Monday, June 1, 2009

What Kind of Country

Glenn Greenwald, a knight in shining armor as far I'm concerned, asks a simple question:

What kind of a country passes a law that has no purpose other than to empower its leader to suppress evidence of the torture it inflicted on people?

What, you're not familiar with the Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act of 2009, sponsored by those erstwhile patriots Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham? Neither was I until this morning.

Read Glennzila's post, then read the whole bill. I've written before about the effects of bureaucratic language meant to obscure and sanitize reality; this is yet another example. Though, to be fair, the bill does state what it's after in plain language: it allows the Pentagon to suppress and keep hidden any "photograph that was taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009 relating to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained after September 11, 2001, by the Armed Forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States."  But this blatant violation of specific court orders and the First Amendment, of pretty much any principle of open government, is all for "Protection," you see.

At the risk of becoming a bore, I suggest we turn to Montaigne again:

Lying is an accursed vice. It is only our words which bind us together and make us human. If we realized the horror and gravity of lying, we would see that it more worthy of the stake than other crimes...Once let the tongue acquire the habit of lying and it is astonishing how impossible it is to make it give it up.
-from his essay "On Liars"

As the great I.F. Stone liked to say, all governments lie. But once the government starts to lie about damn near everything, it becomes very difficult to break the habit. And it doesn't matter which party is in power. We've acquired the habit of lying and believing lies, and I don't think we'll stop anytime soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment