Despite being a lifelong, pro-welfare state, civil libertarian Democrat who’s never voted for a single Republican–or perhaps because of it–I tend to hold my party to a higher standard. Probably a mistake because it’s been my experience that lapses into ignorance and hypocrisy by Democrats can be far more disillusioning and demoralizing precisely because I’d always thought of it as the party with higher ideals.
But this latest exercise in ignorance and/or hypocrisy is almost beyond belief. I first learned about it listening to my friend Tara McKelvey the author of the important Abu Ghraib expose Monstering on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” Pacifica Radio show on November 26. Ms. Goodman asked Tara what she thought about the Democrats’ pick to give a Democratic Party reply to President Bush’s Saturday radio broadcast on November 24th.
The choice: General Ricardo Sanchez, apparently selected because he now suddenly has discovered there are flaws in the war in Iraq he once presided none too successfully over..
Tara said she felt shock when she heard about it since she’d documented in her book the fact that Gen. Sanchez had formally approved the use of “harsh interrogation methods” at Abu Ghraib, including sleep deprivation, “stress positions”, dogs and Guantanamo-style “Tiger Team” interrogation methods–all of which border, and sometimes cross the border, into flat-out torture. The worst Abu Ghraib abuses (things worse than those he formally approved) occurred when Gen. Sanchez was in charge of intelligence gathering at Abu Ghraib. And yet somehow he never managed to gather the intelligence that those abuses happened while they were going on. He was totally ignorant of them. Or so he says.
Totally ignorant: that’s probably the way to describe the choice of General Sanchez to speak for the Democratic Party in this episode. Or worse: a party that would whore itself out for a uniform to hide behind. If you want someone to make the case against the conduct or continuation of the war, don’t pick as your front man, one of the leading military bunglers who enabled torture. Maybe I missed it, but why wasn’t there more outrage on the anti-war blogs about this? I’m ashamed of the stupidity or the opportunism (or both) of whoever made this execrable unprinicipled decision on behalf of my party.