Bush’s Legacy project just got a little bit more difficult this week with the announcement that the Justice Department will be investigating the use of torture by the CIA during the Bush administration. The investigation will be narrowly focused on those specific acts of torture and abuse that went beyond the legal directives put out by the previous justice department. This will not ever be enough for those calling for a full investigation into Bush’s interrogation program but it still puts enormous pressure on Bush and Cheney to defend their own decisions and policies. Bush and Cheney will have to either go on record denouncing the CIA agents as “a few bad apples” who were acting alone, just like they did with the Abu Greib defendants, or stand up and defend these illegal acts.
We should all remember how outraged the nation and the world became after the disclosure of the pictures from Abu Greib. The administration distanced itself from these heinous acts and prosecuted the perpetrators. It was hard to believe at the time, however, that these soldiers had simply decided one day to become serial detainee abusers. It is much more likely that they conceived of their acts within a culture of disrespect and abuse that came right from the top. Dick Cheney himself said just days after Sept. 11 that we were going to have to operate in the shadows and go to the “dark side”. The soldiers and the CIA interrogators were given the power, the control and the license to do what they wanted to these prisoners. Whether that license was implicit or explicit or whether the administration had control over the process or not does not matter. Bush and Cheney are ultimately responsible and because of these investigations the Bush administration will forever be known as the terror administration.
The only reason the soldiers in Abu Greib were prosecuted was because of the pictures. The acts described in the CIA report were far worse but the internal report that described, in detail, the abuse and recomended further investigations, stayed classified. This allowed Bush and his Justice department to sweep the dirty little secrets under the rug. That dirt got piled up pretty high in the white house and by the time the new occupant moved in, that pile had become big enough to trip over. Unfortunately it has been left up to the Obama administration to clean up Bush’s mess.
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