Torture Twister: Why Democrats Own Torture, Too


Kristen Breitweiser

Republicans are not stupid, folks. When they intend to stretch the parameters of power, break the law, do bad or even evil things, they are smart enough to take along some hostages.

     And sadly, during the Bush years, those hostages too often included enough Democrats to ensure the Republicans’ speedy, slippery getaway from the crime and any future liability tied to it.

The first time around when it came to bearing responsibility for starting the war in Iraq (a pre-emptive, illegal war that had no justification) Bush Republicans exonerated themselves by saying that Congress voted for the war and, therefore, bore equal responsibility for it.

Everybody’s at fault, therefore nobody’s at fault. Nifty little argument that apparently worked when it came to the war in Iraq.

After all, nobody was truly held accountable for the thousands killed, hundreds of thousands wounded, billions spent, and bad reputation we Americans encumbered ourselves with since the debacle known as Iraq.

Yet, in all fairness, back in 2002-03 too many Democrats were actually stunned, silent, and blindly willing to follow along to get along. Readily painting their hands red with blood and eagerly blindfolding their eyes in the process. And shouldn’t Democrats take a lesson and learn from that? Wise up a bit, if you will. I mean, was their support of the invasion of Iraq due to their own true conviction for pre-emptive war? I doubt it. Or was their vote cast because it was politically expedient? Seems more likely. Or maybe because they were just plain-old scared? For whatever reason, how did all those votes turn out for the Democrats in the end? Not well.

Sadly, too few Democratic (and Republican) Senators and Congressmen took the time to actually read the classified reports discussing the "real" threat posed by WMD. Just like far too many were disinterested in really getting to the bottom of the horrible, swirling rumors of unlawful and inhumane torture of enemy combatants and/or the illegal wiretapping allegedly being carried out within the US. These were all ripe and worthy issues that were screaming for oversight during the Bush years. And yet they were, for the most part, left alone.

Too many Congressmen and Senators–both Democrat and Republican– were negligent in their duties and merely followed the advice of their young staffers, their political strategists, and their party "leadership." They mechanically fell in line. Some blamed being in the helpless minority for their inaction. What could they do? They weren’t in power. Others claimed that to do anything otherwise would be unpatriotic. Leaders they were not.

Now with the advent of the Obama Administration, we find renewed calls for an investigation into the acts of torture that were authorized and committed during the Bush years. Indeed, for a few days it seemed as if the threat of very real accountability–maybe even criminal liability–loomed on the horizon. Not so fast.

Once again we find Republicans with their backs against the wall, parading their poor, pathetic Democrat hostages, anew. All over the news, it’s the same mantra and veiled threat: But the Democrats knew about it, too. The Democrats have blood on their hands, too. If you prosecute us, then you have to prosecute them, too.

And with dutiful tail between the legs, we find Democrats one by one shrinking off into the background. Changing the subject, their story, their role in it, and even their interest in getting to the bottom of it. Shameful, really.

When are the Democrats going to learn? Get a backbone? And stop being held hostage?

Look, a lot of really bad things went down and went wrong during the Bush years. Unbridled, unchecked, and unconstitutional Executive Power is a BAD thing. And admittedly, far too many Democrats (and American citizens, and journalists, too, for that matter) sat idly back either too afraid to speak out or too willing to go along. But when the facts bear out, these Democrats and others will own a vastly smaller amount of responsibility than those who stood behind the creation of it all. Democrats need to remember this in answering the current, clarion call for an investigation into the torture practices and procedures employed by the Bush Administration.


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