Monday, April 27, 2009

Trickle-Down Hypocrisy

After the story broke surrounding the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, former President Bush gave an interview to Al Arabiya television. Here is a portion:

Considering our recent discussion surrounding issues of torture and detainee abuse, it certainly puts into context just how deceptive and untruthful the previous administration was. Even after this story broke in 2004 there were people writing about just how absurd it was for the Bush Administration to claim that these were just a "few bad apples". Now you have a situation where, like Bush, you have those who feigned outrage over this "isolated incident" in 2004, lining up to defend these tactics today.

Take Charles Krauthammer on May 14, 2004:

This panic is everywhere and now includes many who have been longtime supporters of the war. The panic is unseemly. The pictures are shocking and the practices appalling. But how do the actions of a few depraved soldiers among 135,000 negate the moral purpose of the entire enterprise — which has not only liberated 25 million people from 25 years of genocidal dictatorship but has included a nationwide reconstruction punctuated by hundreds, thousands, of individual acts of beneficence and kindness by American soldiers?

Krauthammer called these acts "appalling" in 2004 so naturally he would be outraged to see that this was not an isolated incident, but the actual policy of the United States right? From an April 17, 2009 FoxNews Transcript:

BAIER: Charles, let's start with these documents, their release. What does it mean?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think it does harm the United States. It gives away a lot of our techniques. And I disagree. I don't see it as a dark chapter in our history at all.

You look at some of these techniques — holding the head, a face slap, or deprivation of sleep. If that is torture, the word has no meaning.

I would concede that one technique, simulated drowning, you could call torture, even though the memos imply that legally it didn't meet that definition. I'm agnostic on the legalism.

BAIER: You're talking about waterboarding?

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes. But let's concede that it's a form of torture. I think it's perfectly reasonable to use it in two cases, that the ticking time bomb, if an innocent is at risk and you've got a terrorist that has information that would save that innocent and isn't speaking. That's an open and shut easy case.

A second case is a high-level Al Qaeda operative, a terrorist, who knows names and places and numbers and plans and safe houses and all that, and by using techniques to get information, you're saving lives.

If I have to weigh on the one hand the numberless and nameless lives saved in America by the use of these techniques, and we had a CIA director who told us that these techniques on these high-level terrorists was extremely effective in giving us information.

If you have to weigh on one hand that the numberless and nameless lives saved, against the 30 seconds or so of terror in the eyes of a terrorist who is suffering this technique, I think the moral choice is easy.

It's not a dark chapter in our history. It is a successful one. We have not had a second attack, and largely because of this.

Here you have a clear case of trickle-down hypocrisy. President Bush and his Administration authorized these techniques, feigned outrage, and isolated blame when exposed 5 years ago. Today, these same players defend these policies all while some members of the media (like Krauthammer) eat it up and spit it back out. "Appalling" in 2004 when the President and his Administration says it is and "necessary" in 2009 because the President's Administration says it was.

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