Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Smoking Gun

From the Department of You think being a dictator is easy?: Venezuela, in an effort to keep children from cynicism, defiance and rebellion, has cancelled "The Simpsons" from child viewing TV time. The replacement? Reruns of "Baywatch". Everyone loves a happy ending.

Seven foot, 300 lb. hoopster Shaquille O'Niell on what happened when he dived into the stands after a loose ball: "I tried to miss the kids."

About a week ago, ABC News revealed the existence in 2002-3 of the Principals Committee - chaired by National Security adviser Condi Rice, this group included bigshots Cheney, Ashcroft, Powell, Rumsfeld and Tenet. This group, meeting regularly in the White House Situation Room, had the job of deciding how to treat early prisoners taken on the so-called War on Terror. They took their duties very seriously, directing the CIA on which "advanced interrogation techniques" to use, and in what frequency. The controversial method of turning the conversation known as "waterboarding" was absolutely one of the options, and it was used on at least three individuals. Over a hundred died, though it hasn't been revealed how, or how loudly they passed to the next world. President Bush has confirmed the existence of the committee and its duties. The committee members could not have been more involved if they had been given individual whips and cattle prods.
Do you see what makes this, to use an overused cliche, a "smoking gun"? While declaring to the world with a straight face that "We don't torture" (GWB might have meant that "we" referred only to himself, Laura and the twins), Bush knew of a committee of the highest possible stature working on that very issue, although how to administer rather than prevent it. All he had to do to be in on the meeting was to go down the hall and open the door.
OK, I hear you groaning, but what can we do about that now? Speaker Pelosi says there won't be any impeachment. Withholding government pensions wouldn't even make them give up Cuban cigars. Any future Democratic administration would need witnesses to conduct any prosecution, which would take years anyway. We're stuck, aren't we?
I have a tiny suggestion. One year ago, Mr. Cheney came and spoke at the BYU graduation assembly. He was pretty reserved, not speaking politically, and only for about fifteen minutes. Large changes had to be made to the ceremony itself to accomodate the VEEP, but that wasn't Cheney's fault. He was just the guest. He was also given an honorary degree.
I suggest that BYU, a Christian institution if there ever was one, where loving kindness is a tradition as well established as football teams known for their passing attacks, contact the VP's office directly. They should say "Mr. Cheney, we know you, like all Republicans, believe in personal accountability. Frankly we are concerned about your role as part of the Principals Committee and that group's involvement in prisoner abuse. We know it was a few years ago, so we'll give you a chance to review your records and call us back. But right now, we are thinking of withdrawing the degree. You can keep the actual certificate if you like. We'll just remove the record of it. Oh yeah, we can do that. It's our school. We think one week is enough time, but you can let us know if you need more. If we don't hear from you, then look for a press release that confirms our change of heart. After all, we wouldn't have awarded it in the first place if we had known. I mean, we're strict, but we don't support torture. Geez. That's fair, don't you think? OK, talk to you soon. Bye."
I don't see anything wrong with that approach. It shows our old school has a little backbone, but it's not intended as an insult. They give awards for things done, so why not take them away for the same reason? They threw a guy out of school in the seventies for reporting to the Nixon campaign while working for the Muskie campaign, and no one died over that one. The nation's vice president should be someone a lot more responsible than some schmuck student, right? Anyway, that's my plan. I think I'll write old BYU and tell them about it. Heck, maybe they'll give ME an award.


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