Monday, September 13, 2004

Giving Up The Ghost

Memo to Donald Rumsfeld and the CIA: GOOD THING WE'RE DUMB.
Back in the 80's, in Central America, there was a term. This term described people snatched by the government, taken prisoner, and never seen again. No lawyers, no family, no official acknowledgement from the government that they were in custody. They were "the disappeared". This was the tool of brutal dictators with no regard for human rights.
Today, we have a new word. "ghost detainees". We've discussed this here before. It's when someone is snatched by the government, taken prisoner, never seen again, denied access to lawyers and family, and there's no official acknowledgement that they were ever taken. The difference between "the disappeared" and "ghost detainees" is that the latter is apparently the tool of First World republics, not Third World dictatorships.
Actually, now that I think about it, there's a second difference. When people were "disappeared", it was widely considered a deplorable thing to do, and was roundly denounced by all civilized people. Groups like Amnesty International were listened to by the press and public. Whereas the United States can freely admit to having held up to 100 "ghost detainees" in custody, hiding them from the Red Cross, and the media and public are still fucking around with swift boats and poring over PDF'ed memos with a fine-toothed comb.
The United States has admitted to war crimes and human rights violations numbering in the triple digits, and everyone who should be giving a fuck is farting around trying to determine which models of IBM typewriter could make superscripts. The CIA is mimicking the worst aspects of the fucking KGB! There was a time when this would have been considered, oh, I don't know, IMPORTANT when it was revealed to the public. But not now, apparently.
I mean, I distinctly remember a month or two ago, commenting on how obscene and ridiculous it was when it was ONE ghost detainee, and how I could not believe that people were getting away with it. Little did I know what they were getting away with And continue to get away with. This came out, by the way, as part of the Abu Ghraib investigation. You remember that, right? That thing that was just "a few bad apples" and some "fraternity pranks" according to the right-wing echobox, that in fact was the whole fucking barrel, the guys who loaded the barrel, the quys who built the barrel, the guys who ordered the barrel to be built... and that's just what the military said after investigating ITSELF.
Luckily for us, the Rumsfeld Doctrine is pioneering new ground in moral relativism. According to the Rumsfield Doctrine, as long as something anywhere is even slightly worse, there's no need to get too worked up about a few electrocuted genitals, disappeared brown people, or murders.
"Has it been harmful to our country? Yes. Is it something that has to be corrected? Yes,'' he said. ''Does it rank up there with chopping off someone's head off on television? It doesn't. It doesn't." Rumsfield, explaining his Doctrine to the docile sheep of the United States press corps, who dutifully reported the statements verbatim to a nation full of sessile fucksponges who soaked it up and felt better about themselves because they didn't cut anyone's head off on live television today.
Set aside the polls for a second. Forget Vietnam. Forget lying about Vietnam, even. There are real, actual reasons to hate the fuckers that are running things, and real, actual reasons to at the very least be deeply disappointed in the people running against them who are also saying nothing. We have disappeared 100 people, and not only is there no uproar, no apology, or even more than a half-hearted COVERUP, it's not even a fucking campaign issue.
I swear, I'm starting to think we DESERVE four more years of this. Well, not me. And obviously not most of the readers of this space. But the country in general. Maybe, with another term in office, people can stop following POLITICS long enough to notice what the actual GOVERNMENT is up to. Discard their blind party loyalties and the yammering of right-center versus far-right for long enough to notice what we are becoming. The only thing that keeps me from adopting this worldview wholeheartedly is the sinking suspicion that it would not work, and after four extra years of war crimes and bullshit and a ruling class with complete contempt for 95% of the population they're allegedly accountable to, we'd still be on our asses, the polls would still be 50/50, and three quarters of us would still be sitting November out. Because we're deeply, deeply, DEEPLY fucking dumb.