Monday, July 25, 2005

The Bush Legacy: Death, Lies, and Shredder Tape

Quote of the day, from John Simpson of the BBC:

The Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq's next-door neighbour, has benefited in every way from President George W Bush's decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein. It is probably the best thing that has happened to Iran since the Islamic Revolution there in 1979.

Co-quote of the day (hey, it's my blog, I can make up words if I want to), from Eric Alterman of

Let’s tally it all up: Creating a murderous civil war, badly weakening our military, creating anti-American hatred all over the world, vastly increasing the terrorist threat, getting thousands of Americans killed and tens of thousands wounded, killing tens of thousand of Iraqis, torturing hundreds, perhaps thousands more, letting our true enemies retreat and regroup, and wasting hundreds of billions of dollars,—to say nothing of deliberately outing CIA agents for political payback and firing everyone who tried to tell the truth and starving homeland security—all for a war in which we were never threatened. Seriously, if I were Bin Laden, I’d just retire. Everything’s going swimmingly...

Meanwhile, across the pond, British government officials are "desperately sorry" and "profoundly regret" the killing of an innocent (the number of bullets drilled into the poor man's head has gone from 5 to 8, though this entirely meets with the approval of John "Five in the Noggin" Gibson of FOX):

So for the moment, all's well. Just catch the four bombers. Five in the noggin is fine. Don't complain that sounds barbaric. We're fighting barbaric.

Gibson also crows, "I love the way they popped the pictures of those four bombers so quick." What he forgot to ask himself is how the bobbies went and shot the wrong man after those wonderful pictures had been produced. But Gibson is another instance of the mindless, clueless sideline cheerleaders to whom such questions are meaningless in the face of good, solid, efficient killing.

Actually, the entire episode is something that has been well studied and publicized—most recently, and notably, in Malcolm Gladwell's justifiably bestselling book blink. Get the book and read his Chapter 6 ("Seven Seconds in the Bronx"), which discusses another incident of police shooting madly at something dark-skinned, scary-looking, and, it turned out, innocent.

What Gladwell adds to this discussion is insight and research findings on the phenomenon, along with some frightening evidence on its ubiquity in our culture. Gladwell concludes with a hopeful point about the potential for stopping this pestilence of mindlessness amid the people that carry the guns for our governments. His message boils down to if you're going to give people guns to do their jobs with, you'd better damn well train them how to use them—and how not to:

To a novice, that incident would have gone by in a blur. but it wasn't a blur at all. Every moment—every blink—is composed of a series of discrete moving parts, and every one of those parts offers an opportunity for intervention, for reform, and for correction. (p. 241).

And speaking of intervention, reform, and correction, we have Karl. And Karl, it seems, has company. Apparently, it is now a matter of record that the Bushies—specifically AG Gonzales—had advance knowledge of the DOJ's intent to investigate the blowing of Valerie Plame's cover; and that they shared this knowledge in conversations aboard Air Force One among their most interested parties. Frank Rich does a better job than I can in sorting out the actual and probable details, in all their sordid surreality.

There was plenty of time, it appears, to "prepare a face to meet the faces you will meet," as T.S. Eliot would say; plenty of time to prepare statements and stories; and to shred documents that the DOJ had already made clear it wanted to see.
What is becoming clearer and clearer still—as if any further evidence is required—is the bedrock case for impeachment, which I still think should be our national priority here. Get them out of office, out of the White House, first, and then let indictments ring.

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