Thursday December 18, 2014
The police killing unarmed civilians. Horrifying income inequality. Rotting infrastructure and an unsafe "safety net." An inability to respond to climate, public health and environmental threats. A food system that causes disease. An occasionally dysfunctional and even cruel government. A sizable segment of the population excluded from work and subject to near-random incarceration.
Ian Manuel is a black man who has spent most of his life in prison. Yet he still has a most unusual advocate calling for his release: a white woman whom he met when he shot her in the face.
In the summer of 1991, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturned the conviction, for stock manipulation, of a man named John Mulheren.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's sickening report about the torture of terrorism suspects by CIA officers and contractors, with its revelations about "rectal feeding" and prolonged sleep deprivation, should trouble the conscience of every American.
The burdens of being an Informed Citizen are many. This weekend, you'll probably be going out to some holiday party or dinner where your friends will expect you to have an opinion about the monster spending bill that's been staggering through Congress.
Consider this an opinion primer.
There has been much gnashing of teeth over the Senate Intelligence Committee's report documenting use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," widely labeled as torture, that were approved in the George W. Bush presidency and then outlawed by successor Barack Obama in 2009.
The "debate" over torture is almost as grotesque as torture itself. There can be no legitimate debate about the intentional infliction of pain upon captive and defenseless human beings. The torturers and their enablers may deny it, but they know -- and knew from the beginning -- that what they did was obscenely wrong.
Can we now say with confidence that our government will not use torture again and that Americans in the future will rise up to prevent it from doing so? In light of the reaction to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report, I fear that we can't.
We've never seen anything like it. Reporters almost ran out of adjectives for the kinds of torture carried out by the CIA, as described in the Senate Intelligence Committee report released this week. Their actions were called disgusting, degrading, despicable, sick, satanic, hedonistic, horrific, evil, sadistic and sadomasochist -- all of which applied. And that was just for starters.
The medical community has been no match for the National Rifle Association for decades. By the time Congress leaves town for the holidays, we'll know if senators have shown an ounce of courage or if the NRA has bagged one more trophy. Either way, we won't get the high-stakes discussion we need about guns.