Another cliche dies
You've heard the old saying "The Pen is mightier than the sword", right? Not anymore:
When President Bush last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief. After approving the bill last Friday, Bush issued a ''signing statement" -- an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law -- declaring that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said.
''The executive branch shall construe [the law] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President . . . as Commander in Chief," Bush wrote, adding that this approach ''will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President . . . of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks."
The sword is officially mightier than the pen now. How else can one actually sign legislation meant to restrain their power while simultaneously declaring they will not obey it?
In case I haven't made it clear enough before, my view on the whole torture thing is built more on a value of honesty than with revulsion to brutality. I personally do not approve of it, & find that any ruling structure that ends up resorting to it deserves to collapse, though that is not what REALLY gets my blood boiling. No, what I hate is how by our conduct we have stretched US exceptionalism -- an idea that already started off with problems -- so far that it amounts to a blank check. We point out the window shouting "look at those SAVAGES! They don't play by rules!", puffing up our egos as some kind of timeless heroic badass -- The Lone Ranger with the weaponry of The Terminator -- who must do atrocious things simply to be able to sleep at night.
That distinction is a lie.
From the beginning of mans time as talking apes there have not been rules to war. The entire point of combat is that it's what happens when the parameters of civil society stop working. Any attempt to say otherwise has amounted to a sideways self-hate, a strategic calculation, or both. It was considered par for the course when villages were ransacked & burnt to the ground, when urban areas were carpetbombed, That was WAR.
But no, we come along and do the exact same things, and add a special twist: "We're not like THOSE people!" We attribute any atrocity done to altrusitic reasons, as if we do the world a favor or something. Personally even if we were doing favors I'd still oppose it, as it's not our job & they don't deserve charity anyway. As if that wasn't enough, we have the unmitigated GALL to be sideways about the whole mess:
"We're sooooo advanced! Now shut up & pass those pliers, this guy still has teeth!"
F**k that. Either we're advanced and we don't do it or there is no great separation. It'd actually be more humane to just come out and admit it. Nothing worse than a liar...