Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Lies, Damn Lies, and Technical Exactitudes

I watched your Rice dancing around with language, before she left for Europe yesterday, in an effort to answer--no, to avoid answering--European questions on two subjects: the existence of secret CIA jails at locations in Europe, and the practice of "rendition"--air freighting detainees to other countries for interrogation. I was not convinced, Bush. And I'm sure that those Europeans--many of whom are skeptical buggers, as I'm sure you know--will be no more convinced than I was.

I mean, she put on her sternest face and came up with tough-sounding words, Bush, but none of them answered the question. Are there secret CIA jails in Europe? Her failure to come up with a simple "no" is a tacit acknowledgement that yes, there are. And given that their presence remains undenied, if they did exist, she suggested, and if interrogations had been taking place there, it would have been for the purpose of protecting European lives from the grievous harm that might otherwise befall them. No specifics, of course. Just dark hints and blanket assertions.

As to rendition (presumably to allow for interrogation techniques that might not be acceptable on home territory), "The United States does not permit, tolerate or condone torture under any circumstances." And "The United States does not transport and has not transported detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation using torture." Ample wiggle room there, I think. Ample grounds for arguing that the truth has been told, without actually having told the truth. And by the way, how do we define torture? By our own standard, which tends to shift according to what your administration deems necessity? Or by the accepted standards of the rest of the civilized world. Hmmm. Perhaps that should read simply, "by the civilized world."

"So, George, did you chop down that apple tree?" "Father, I cannot tell a lie. I did not chop down the vast majority of the apple trees in the orchard. Nor did I chop down a single pear tree, nor a plum tree. George Washington does not make a practice of chopping down apple trees. He does not condone the chopping down of apple trees. And besides, he does not possess an axe of his own with which to chop them down."

Ah, well, Bush. I saw that old warhorse John Murtha interviewed on the television this morning. He said, and I paraphrase this first part: we need some hard, honest appraisal of our situation in Iraq. And added--and here I quote directly--"We're not getting honesy from this White House." My point exactly.

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