Shame, Shame

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Yesterday I learned that ABC News broke a story about "Principal's Meetings," where interrogation techniques were discussed and approved by "principals" in the administration. From the article:

"Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.

"The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

"The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.

"At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft."

My concern about the content of this story is the identity of these "principals."

Vice President Cheney, Secretary Donald Rumsfield, and Attorney General John Ashcroft came as no surprise to me. These men have specialized is doing evil in the name of righteousness, and my expectations of their moral behavior are already pretty low.

Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Director George Tenet have already proven that they were too weak and incompetent to successfully execute their duties morally and successfully during W's first term. Again, my expectations of their ability to stand up and do the right thing are already low.

But General Powell. Oh, General Powell.

Of all the statesmen that have come and gone in my adult life, you were the one I most admired. While I recognized that you were, by definition, a politician, I also thought that you were a professional warrior and an honorable man. Obviously, I was wrong, for what professional, honorable warrior would sacrifice our country's honor and morality by approving torture to be carried out in our name?

I'm ashamed of you, General Powell. I'm ashamed for you. Even if your opinions were steamrolled by Cheney and Rumsfield, how could you not resign over this issue? Remaining silent was the act of a coward, and you've compromised your legacy. Or do you really believe that water-boarding our enemies is a just and moral act?

Shame. Shame, shame.

6 comments:

Anne C. said...

I'm with you on this one. I don't know how in the hell he rationalized this one. I would have followed that guy through fire at one point.

Steve Buchheit said...

Well, Gen. Powell was traveling a lot. Just because he was a part of this group (which, really, isn't that a Cabinet Meeting?), it doesn't mean he signed off on the protocol.

Janiece Murphy said...

Steve, what you say is true. His level of involvement appears to be ambiguous.

However, I'm still disappointed and ashamed - he was the Secretary of State, and the old "I didn't know" excuse simply does not wash with me.

Michelle K said...

How depressing.

I thought for a long time he really should haver resigned in protest. But then I thought maybe he felt he was the only voice of reason and needed to remain because of that.

But this? This is just... well... really depressing.

Nathan said...

I'm gonna give him a break until I see more details.

1. Maybe he continued to be the voice of reason in the room. For all we know, he was kicking and screaming the whole time.

2. I don't have a problem with the fact that 'details' were discussed. There are any number of examples of unpleasant treatment that don't rise to the level of torture. I can imagine sitting in a room and saying, "yeah, that's ok...that too. Nope, that's over the line."

I may be an idiot, but I just don't want to believe the worst about Powell...I've got too much invested in admiring his integrity.

I also may find out that I'm completely wrong.

Janiece Murphy said...

Nathan, based on the story I referenced, water-boarding was discussed and approved by this group.

That's not okay with me.

The ambiguous part is whether or not General Powell was present for those meetings, and if that decision was given his tacit approval.

Like you, I have some emotional investment in my admiration of the man, and nothing would make me happier than to discover the ABC story was nothing but a huge, stinking pile of poo.

But I'm not optimistic.