Bad apples and core values

Steve Soto at The Left Coaster:

Pentagon Report On Guantanamo Destroys The “Few Bad Apples” Defense

A just-released Pentagon report […] shows that the tactics used at Abu Ghraib weren’t isolated to that facility, but in fact were field-tested months earlier at Guantanamo with Rumsfeld’s and Alberto Gonzales’s support. So we have confirmation that the tactics that Major General Geoffrey Miller instituted against Iraqi civilians at Abu Ghraib were in fact first put into use months before as standard Bush Administration operating procedure.

We knew that, but thanks, Rummy and friends, for finally putting out the truth on the matter .. a little late, and of course “announced” as quietly as possible.

But Steve concludes:

Look, it is one thing in the aftermath of 9/11 to use such tactics against Taliban and suspected Al Qaeda operatives as an outgrowth of the Afghanistan war and our anti-terror efforts. It is another thing altogether to think that those same tactics are morally and legally transferable for use against Iraqi civilians during an occupation.

I could not disagree more.

History has shown again and again that, once that line has been crossed, using whatever the justification du jour is, the perpetrators themselves have lost their humanity and will use the same despicable behavior again, and again, at will. There is absolutely no rationale for dehumanizing and then torturing, enslaving, executing another human being. It is wrong when Al Queda does it, wrong when the US Army does it, it’s wrong when Nazis do it; wrong when Saddam does it; it’s wrong when the “criminal justice system” does it.

There is no way that the US government can speak with any kind of moral clarity, about any of the myriad unspeakably horrible “crimes against humanity” across the planet, when our hands are so dirty. The words become worse than hollow, they are dripping with mockery, perversion and tyranny. There is no way any of its declarations about same, however legitimate, will be effective or heeded, until Gitmo and Abu Graib are piles of dust.

When can we just say, “such behavior is unacceptable — period,” and by modeling a society where all are treated fairly and equally, where both domestic and foreign policy are founded on compassion instead of greed, demostrate to the world what justice and democracy really look like. It would be the best development campaign for “spreading freedom” ever devised.