Dick Cheney was a frightened man. Deeply shaken when the twin towers fell. His fear fed his own harsh proclivities, it clouded his mind, as fear always does, and too easily lured his heart's own longing for the dark side.
Dick Cheney was not alone. Too many Americans shared his mind frame. The only difference was that Cheney was the Vice President of the most powerful nation on earth. He was also the inside man, the man with full access to the CIA, the man who got things done, the fixer, the enforcer. And standing in his way was a nation that prided itself on being a nation of laws, laws that required that we "keep the gloves on" at all times, because that's who we think we are. For Dick, however, gloves were always an unwanted impediment to his powerful sense of realpolitik. His fear and 9/11 was the perfect excuse he needed to take them off.
From that, all else followed.
And so, here we are. What was known-but-not-known is now beyond denial, except for those whose jobs and reputations and legacies depend on their continuing The Big Lie. It's a tactic that will work because it always does. Which is why the most discouraging thing about the recently released report on the CIA and Torture is that we can all be sure that nothing will be done. There will be no accountability, no consequences, no perp-walks, no war-crime trials, no Truth and Reconciliation hearings, no nothing. Just a massive report which will be denied by those who administered the program, then put on a shelf. Then . . . nothing.
Except we will once again start piously declaring to ourselves and the world about how America is a nation of laws.The rest of the world will snigger up their sleeves. They know better.
America tortures. America commits war crimes. Just like a lot of other Thug Nations that America publicly decries. But America gets away with its murders because Power and Expediency, not Law, not Justice, is what America is a nation of.
So we regularly go through this sad dance of faux "Accountability," throw a few low-level folks under the bus, declare ourselves My Bad, write, then shelve a big thick report, and then The Great Forgetting will set in . Until next time.
I have no doubt that some very angry jihadists will use this report to engage in some war crimes of their own. Murder always calls out for more murder. And already the foxes are defending their chicken coops while a whole gaggle of politicians are diving under their desks in a fit of forgetting as to what they knew and when they knew it. This will play out in the 24/7 news media, and partisan politicians are already starting to change the narrative: The 9/11 "mood" of the country made us do it. After all, everyone knows that torture works and war crimes are O.K. . . . . if you're angry.
In no time, that narrative will prevail and we'll be back cocooned inside our comforting belief that we are exceptional and so did no wrong because we are, after all, America -- a Nation of Laws.