Monday, April 12, 2010

Feeling the Chill Yet?

Whereat I turned me round, and saw before me
And underfoot a lake, that from the frost
The semblance had of glass, and not of water.
Each one his countenance held downward bent;
From mouth the cold, from eyes the doleful heart
Among them witness of itself procures.
Then I beheld a thousand faces, made
Purple with cold; whence o'er me comes a shudder,
And evermore will come, at frozen ponds.

-- From Dante's
Inferno, Canto XXXII, describing the Ninth Circle of Hell

Traitors, to their Kindred and to their Country, have a special place in Hell, according to Dante. When I read this post from Andrew Sullivan this morning, detailing a statement made by the Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell which was a first-hand account of what Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush knew regarding Gitmo detainees, I immediately flashed upon Dante had written to describe how cold and desolate things were for the worst sinners. And yet, the inhabitants of the darkest, coldest place in imagination were unrepentant and defended their actions even while encased in ice up to their necks, gnawing the heads of those next to them.

The Chief of Staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, had this to say while under oath:

I discussed the issue of the Guantánamo detainees with Secretary Powell. From these discussions, I learned that it was his view that it was not just Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld, but also President Bush who was involved in all of the Guantánamo decision making. My own view is that it was easy for Vice President Cheney to run circles around President Bush bureaucratically because Cheney had the network within the government to do so. Moreover, by exploiting what Secretary Powell called the President’s “cowboy instincts,” Vice President Cheney could more often than not gain the President’s acquiescence.

And with the refusal to release photos of detainees, and to reserve the power to direct the CIA to assassinate American citizens in the name of national security, the current president is doing his best to avoid responsibility. These horrible incidents in American history need to be brought to light. My hope is that, after Obama is reelected and doesn't have to worry so much about preserving Democratic power in Washington, he'll direct more of this stuff to come out.

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