The senate majority report into CIA activities after the ever changing events of 9/11 is sadly little surprise to anyone who had access to the internet, a newspaper or television. What has been finally myth busted is the idea that America is somehow exceptional. The mythology which guided the founders of this once great nation has fallen down spectacularly. This myth was powerful in the carnage that faced the United States from the impact of Terrorism, However the more they get wrapped into the myth the more the myth became deconstructed in the warped minds of those who were trying to protect their homeland.
The signs had been there, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib were clear signals that the United States no longer necessarily cared about fundamental rights. Of course this had always been the case, from slavery which was finally abolished long after slavery in the United Kingdom, to Japanese internment camps in the Second World War. However both of these issues had been historically addressed, their injustices were recognised and action was taken to try and redress these abuses. From abolishing slavery to the long overdue civil rights act of 1964 which ended segregation, to Reagan signing the civil liberties act which apologised for the internment of Japanese citizens and with the Commission on wartime relocation and internment of Japanese citizens arguing that reparations were appropriate, $20,000 was paid out to each survivor who was still in the United States.
What we have seen since the majority report has come to the fore is the lack of acknowledgement from the executive branch that an America where torture had become routine is not only unexceptional, but in the company of some very nasty states. Indeed while President Obama stopped torture which was justified under Bush, he quickly offered immunity to those who conducted these crimes. The White House which needs to be above reproach and whiter than white, when it comes to these filthy acts has come to well below a subpar performance. It seems the reservations of Mr Obama accepting the Nobel Peace Prize were well founded. The late Christopher Hitchens described it as giving an Oscar in the hope he would one day make a great film, to follow the analogy it seems Mr Obama has been involved in B movies and snuff films rather than great theatre.
Some 54 states co-operated in this industrial scale programme of torture. This ranges from kidnapping citizens, providing prisons and black sites for them to be held in and some have argued that complicity in torture is also on the list. This list of states ranges around the world from Australia to Great Britain, all willing partners in the war on terror. It seems that most nation states in the world accept these practices as the ugly side of keeping safe. This is what I mean by the end of exceptionalism, it wasn’t that America was engaged in acts which many nations do not commit, merely the narrative of this great nation standing as a paragon of virtue above all others was flawed from the start and has come crashing down in spectacular fashion.
The question seems to be what now? The minority senate report denies much of the allegations, the director and deputy director of the CIA claim they helped save lives through torture, while others including torture victims such as John McCain argue torture offers nothing in the way of providing evidence. Obama has already given immunity to those involved in these acts. However one thing is clear, there isn’t much lower America can go. If you’re prepared to go as low as to commit torture, how much lower can one go?
By Sam Mace, Junior Writer at Daily Political View