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Re: SC86

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February 25, 2009 10:12PM
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/02/24-2

The Oscar for Denial
And the winner is – The American People

................Now the United States faces a new moral crisis, the subversion of our own legal and moral values by high officials of our own government. We are, in this moment. as awash in complicity and willful denial as the principled middle-class denizens of the Third Reich. We are the Good Germans of the new millennium in Bush America because we knew about the illegal kidnappings and tortures, the self-serving legalisms that subverted the Geneva accords and papered over Constitutional lapses, the lies that led us into conquest and occupation. Starting well before the invasion of Iraq - which millions around the globe protested in unprecedented numbers before it occurred - we knew the "weapons of mass destruction" and Saddam's connections to al-Qaeda were bullshit excuses. But many millions of us tried to pretend that we really weren't sure.

In his Sunday column entitled: "What We Don't Know Will Hurt Us," Frank Rich remarked upon this "American reluctance to absorb, let alone prepare for, bad news. We are plugged into more information sources than anyone could have imagined even 15 years ago... Yet we are constantly shocked, shocked by the foreseeable." Or as Bob Dylan put it, in the context of race relations a generation ago, "How many times must a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn't see?"

We know, deep inside us we know, as the Germans who kept their heads down and tried to lead ‘normal' lives as genocide exploded all around them, in their name, by their own government, knew, that our government has committed terrible atrocities at home and abroad. If we do nothing to bring these crimes to light and their perpetrators to justice, then we are as guilty and worthy of moral condemnation as the war generation of silent Germans whom Ron Rosenbaum rightly abhors.

For Bernard Schlink, this knowledge, that his parents' generation denied, "makes me aware how thin the ice is on which we live." Schlink believed that German culture and institutions like courts, universities, churches, unions and political parties "all seemed so solid." And yet it all broke down, "relatively easily." In America too. Somehow we allowed our government to invade a country that had committed no aggression toward the United States. We allowed our government to declare an emergency in order to violate human rights of many thousands of individuals, to commit torture, to incarcerate people for years without trial or hearings of any kind. And today we continue the violence in Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan. We continue to jail and abuse individuals without charges. And we all know it's wrong. And it's time to deal with it before our "land of the free" is irreparably compromised.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy has laid out The Case for a Truth Commission (Time, Feb 20). As Leahy says: "For much of this decade, we have read about and witnessed such abuses as the scandal at Abu Ghraib, the disclosure of torture memos and the revelations about the warrantless surveillance of Americans. We need to get to the bottom of what happened--and why--to make sure it never happens again... to find the truth....

"But to repair the damage of the past eight years and restore America's reputation and standing in the world, we should not simply turn the page without being able first to read it.... We need to get to the bottom of what went wrong after a dangerous and disastrous diversion from American law and values. The American people have a right to know what their government has done in their names."

It's not just our right. It's a fundamental need. German society is still - and may always be - in recovery, not just from the atrocities committed in its name, by its leaders, but from the silent acquiescence of the millions who lacked the will to speak up against what they knew was wrong. To sweep the crimes and excesses of the Bush-Cheney years under the rug would destroy the American soul. The world needs the American sense of justice now more than ever. But we forfeit our moral authority if we do not take responsibility for the crimes of the Bush-Cheney years. Karl Rove continues to flaunt congressional subpoenas to testify. He figures he can stonewall indefinitely, that there will be no day of reckoning for lawless U.S. officials. We must do everything in our power to prove him wrong.
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