Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Bush Crusade

GQ released today the cover sheets from a dozen or so of the top secret private intelligence briefings hand delivered by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to President Bush in the early days of the Iraq War. The GQ slide show is here.

It is astonishing to think that those in charge of the war were indulging in these messianic fantasies.

" . . . your right hand will hold me fast, O LORD."

Frank Rich writes in this morning's New York Times that, "Until there is true transparency, revelations of the unresolved eight-year nightmare will keep raining down drip by drip."

Frank Rich, "Obama Can't Turn the Page on Bush," New York Times, 17 May 2009.

Maureen Dowd appears to be convinced, in a change of heart, of the same point, and now urges a full investigation. She has also been won over to the view, in circulation for some time and increasingly well documented, that torture was practiced by agents of the United States not so much to prevent further terrorist attacks as to knowingly force false confessions that would link Iraq to Al Qaeda, and thus justify the Bush war in Iraq. Dowd writes, "I used to agree with President Obama, that it was better to keep moving and focus on our myriad problems than wallow in the darkness of the past. But now I want a full accounting. I want to know every awful act committed in the name of self-defense and patriotism."

Maureen Dowd, "Cheney, Master of Pain," New York Times, 17 May 2009.

President Obama is no doubt in a difficult position -- and in fact in some ways in conflicting positions, needing to earn the trust of the defense and intelligence establishments, and yet to be faithful to the demands of justice and truth. We will never know everything about what happened, or who was responsible, and even as we know more and more we will never be entirely able to agree on the politics and the policies of the Bush administration, nor to purge ourselves of the pain inflicted in our names.

But we should at least be able to learn enough to lessen the chance that this will happen again, and that will take factual investigation and moral reflection, not simply an assertion that it's time to move on, or that uncovering more evidence would damage the propaganda position of the United States.

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