We all know Bush wants to be seen as a hero. He wans history to look back at his actions as president in a post 9/11 world and speak well of him. To say that he made the right choices, did the right things, and acted in the best interests of the American people.
He hopes that we will ignore the fact that while he said 9/11 changed everything (and it did, in some respects) that in reality it changed nothing–at least as far as the average American was concerned. Sure, there was pain and outrage. Deservedly so. We were attacked, and we lost loved ones, family members, friends. We also lost what little sense of innocence that we had after Pearl Harbor and Vietnam.
But what did Bush tell us to do, after the attacks? He told us that we had to keep living our lives in the way we had, otherwise the terrorists would win. He told us to keep shopping. Keep spending. Go to work. Go to school. Keep doing the things we had been. Act as if nothing had happened. Oh, and buy some duct tape.
I know we cannot wallow in our fear or pain. I know that it was healthy advice to go about or daily business. I think, however, that it was wrong of our President–the man the nation looked to in those troubled times–to tell us to go about our business in the same way we had. This immediately turned and event that could have brought us together as a nation, united us in a way that we haven’t been united since the 60’s. Instead, it ensured that we would continue to live our shallow selfish lives, the only difference being that now we lived in fear. Fear of another terrorist attack. Fear of our neighbor who might be a sympathizer, fear of the man behind the counter at the corner store whose skin color was different than our own, and looked a little too much like one of those men on the planes that crashed into the Towers.
This fear led us to give up our power as citizens. It encouraged and convinced us that our leaders not only knew what was right, but that they woud do the right thing to keep us safe. What was that right thing? Well, as it turns out, it was do whatever is necessary. Go to war. Racial profile. Detain people (American and non American citizens) as enemy combantants and keep them off of U.S. soil so that the Constitution did not apply to them. Keep their names secret and allow them no contact with the outside world. Abuse them, torture them, keep them in dark little holes and throw shit, literally feces, at them. All in the name of information gathering so that the government could keep the citizenry safe. And we were so afraid that we stood by and let it happen. After all, we weren’t getting attacked anymore, so those techniques and tactics had to be working, right?
Now, the AP has come across documents detailing the detainment of two US citizens and one US resident that were held in a Navy Facility called The Brig. The Brig is located in Charleston S.C. That means that it is on American soil. These men were either citizens of America, or residing here legally, and still they were arrested, held without charge, and tortured. For them, the Constitution had been suspended. These documents, which consist of email and reports from the officers overseeing these men, also make clear that the officers were to give the same treatment to these men as the prisoners in Guantanamo had received. These orders came from the higher echelons of military and governmental command (read the Pentagon and the White House), so it is more than likely that Bush knew of the mandate. And still, he allowed it to happen.
So now we know for a fact that Bush, and by extentsion the American people, condoned illegal torture of illegally held men. And, whether Bush likes it or not, that is now part of our legacy. It is one, and I’m sure President Bush feels this way too, that I wish history would forget. But it won’t, and neither should we. We cannot change what happened, and we should not forget it either. If we do, it will become meaningless, and when it becomes meaningless it will just be repeated.
No, we need to remember this so that we can avoid it in the future (if we even have one, because right now things are looking so bleak that it may not matter what history says about Bush or any other President, there may not be enough people who care left to read it). And we need to, as a nation, take a stand against these policies and hold those responsible to account.
Impeachment is the only choice. And if not impeachment, arrest and conviction of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et all after this administration. If Clinton could be impeached for lying about a hummer under oath (perjury is a crime after all) then we should have no problem charging these men and women with high crimes and treason. Not only have they tossed the Constitution aside, they have lied to the American people on a grand scale. Some of these lies resulted in the Iraq war, which is not only costing us billions of dollars a day, but has also cost us over 4,000 American citizens. Countless Iraqi lives have also been lost. These men are liars and murderers who think that they are above the law. It is time that we as AMERICANS not Republicans or Democrats or Independents or non-voters, but as AMERICANS stood up and told our government no more. It is time for this to end.
If we don’t, history will not only judge Bush as one of the worst things to happen to America, it will also judge and condemn us for our passivity in it all. And I for one would not be able to disagree with that assessment.