Friday, June 11, 2004

the president is dead

long live the king!

There's a couple of puzzling things about the idea of, according to the above learned folks, asserting the divine right of presidents precisely in order to torture people. For one thing, it's not a great start to a monarchy. Come on George, the accession of a new monarch is supposed to be the occasion to release prisoners, not have them anally raped or attach them to electrodes. Get it right! (rolls eyes)

Also, this doesn't make sense in terms of the raw politics of responsibility avoidance. Back when he was Caudillo of Paraguay, Stroessner used to take a quick break from the cares of office by phoning up his head interrogator and having the man select a political prisoner and go at him with a chainsaw, extremities first, while he listened down the open line. Couldn't get away from his desk, you see.

The US government's early response to the Abu Ghraib revelations was to employ a bad apple strategy - just a few trailer park losers, nothing to do with the chain of command in any way. Further revelations made that untenable. But it wopuld still havge been possible and necessary by conventional political criteria to keep the affair contained at the lowest level possible, and above all well away from the President.

But the Torture Memo specifically nails the President, through an aggressive interprtetation of his constitutional powers, to the whole affair. What kind of political strategy puts Bush, so to speak, down an open line to Abu Ghraib and other outposts of America's gulag for Muslims?

It could be a sign of terminal decadence in the administration. Or it could be a sign that the President and his advisers aren't worried about how either the constitutional issue or the torture issue will go down with the electorate.

Enquiring British minds want to know: could they be right?