It's time to remove him.
by Garrison Keillor
Mar. 01, 2006 | These are troubling times for
all of us who love this country, as surely we all do, even the satirists.
You may poke fun at your mother, but if she is
belittled by others it burns your bacon. A blowhard French journalist
writes a book about America that is full of arrogant
stupidity, and you want to let the air out of him and mail him home flat.
You hear young people talk about America as if
it's all over, and you trust that this is only them talking tough. And
you read the paper and realize the country is
led by a man who isn't paying attention, and you hope that somebody
will poke him. Or put a sign on his desk that
says, "Try Much Harder."
Do we need to impeach him to bring some focus
to this man's life? The man was lost and then he was found and
now he's more lost than ever, plus being blind.
The Feb. 27 issue of the New Yorker carries an
article by Jane Mayer about a loyal conservative Republican and
U.S. Navy lawyer, Albert Mora, and his resistance
to the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. From within the
Pentagon bureaucracy, he did battle against Donald
Rumsfeld and John Yoo at the Justice Department and shadowy
figures taking orders from Dick (Gunner) Cheney,
arguing America had ratified the Geneva Convention that forbids
cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners,
and so it has the force of law. They seemed to be arguing
that the president has the right to order prisoners
to be tortured.
One such prisoner, Mohammed al-Qahtani, was held
naked in isolation under bright lights for months, threatened
by dogs, subjected to unbearable noise volumes,
and otherwise abused, so that he begged to be allowed to kill himself.
When the Senate approved the Torture Convention
in 1994, it defined torture as an act "specifically intended to inflict
severe physical or mental pain or suffering."
Is the law a law or is it a piece of toast?
Wiretap surveillance of Americans without a warrant?
Great. Go for it. How about turning over American ports to a
country more closely tied to 9/11 than Saddam
Hussein was? Fine by me. No problem. And what about the war in Iraq?
Hey, you're doing a heck of a job, Brownie. No
need to tweak a thing. And your blue button-down shirt -- it's you.
But torture is something else. When Americans
start pulling people's fingernails out with pliers and poking lighted cigarettes
into their palms, then we need to come back to
basic values. Most people agree with this, and in a democracy that puts
the torturers in a delicate position. They must make sure to destroy their
e-mails and have subordinates who will take the fall.
Because it is impossible to keep torture secret.
It goes against the American grain and it eats at the conscience of even
the most disciplined, and in the end the truth
will come out. It is coming out now.
According to the leaders of the bipartisan 9/11
Commission, our country is practically as vulnerable today as it was
on 9/10. Our seaports are wide open, our
airspace is not secure except for the nation's capital, and little has
done about securing the nuclear bomb materials
lying around in the world. They give the administration D's and F's
in most categories of defending against terrorist
Our adventure in Iraq, at a cost of trillions,
has brought that country to the verge of civil war while earning us more
enemies than ever before. And tax money earmarked
for security is being dumped into pork barrel projects anywhere
somebody wants their own SWAT team. Detonation
of a nuclear bomb within our borders -- pick any big city -- is a
real possibility, as much so now as five years
ago. Meanwhile, many Democrats have conceded the very subject of
security and positioned themselves as Guardians
of Our Forests and Benefactors of Waifs and Owls, neglecting the
most basic job of government, which is to defend
this country. We might rather be comedians or daddies or tattoo
artists or flamenco dancers, but we must attend
to first things.
The peaceful lagoon that is the White House is
designed for the comfort of a vulnerable man. Perfectly understandable,
but not what is needed now. The U.S. Constitution
provides a simple ultimate way to hold him to account for war crimes
and the failure to attend to the country's defense.
Impeach him and let the Senate hear the evidence.