Thursday, June 21, 2007

The President Preaches On Ethics

New York Times quote of the day: “'Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical,' Mr. Bush said in a brief ceremony in the East Room of the White House." The Prez called the United States “a nation founded on the principle that all human life is sacred.” The logical conclusion is that lives lost in Iraq while the Bush administration is saving humans from being killed by terrorists is either unethical or those lives lost are not human. Yes, I know. Trying to make logical sense from anything the Prez says is absurd. And since the Prez was talking about stem cell research, we know his real meaning is: it’s unethical to destroy an embryo the size of a grain of rice even though it might save lives because that nonsense is a vote-getter. But while we are talking about President George W. Bush and his total ignorance of the meaning of the word ethics, a must-read this week is Seymour Hersh’s article in the June 25 issue of The New Yorker, “The General’s Report”, subheaded “How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties.” It’s not shocking to know that the highest official in all countries, including the United States, have people whacked. As Hersh says, “A recently retired C.I.A. officer, who served more than fifteen years in the clandestine service, told me that the task-force teams” (called JSOCS—Joint Special Operations Command working under SAP—Special Access Programs) “had full authority to whack—to go in and conduct ‘executive action,’ ” the phrase for political assassination. “It was surrealistic what these guys were doing,” the retired operative added. “They were running around the world without clearing their operations with the ambassador or the chief of station.” The shocking and maddening point that Hersh makes is that the highest priority of the Bush administration, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the entire Pentagon, was to sacrifice the lives and careers of lower-echelon people rather than to take responsibility for the torture (and death-by-torture) policy developed by the Bush administration and the Pentagon. Hersh writes: “A recently retired high-level C.I.A. official, who served during this period and was involved in the drafting of findings, described to me the bitter disagreements between the White House and the agency (CIA) over the issue (explicit legal authority). “The problem is what constituted approval,” the retired C.I.A. official said. “My people fought about this all the time. Why should we put our people on the firing line somewhere down the road? If you want me to kill Joe Smith, just tell me to kill Joe Smith. If I was the Vice-President or the President, I’d say, ‘This guy Smith is a bad guy and it’s in the interest of the United States for this guy to be killed.’ They don’t say that. Instead, George”—George Tenet, the director of the C.I.A. until mid-2004—“goes to the White House and is told, ‘You guys are professionals. You know how important it is. We know you’ll get the intelligence.’ George would come back and say to us, ‘Do what you gotta do.’” This morning, George W. Bush said using embryos for stem cell research is unethical. And yet, George W. Bush approved all the torture methods used at Abu Ghraib and in all other prisons around the world where detainees are being held. If there is a difference between Dennis Rader, the Bible-spouting Bind-Torture-Kill serial killer and George W. Bush, I fail to see it.

No comments: