Friday, October 05, 2007

Styles of Stealing: Bush and Maliki

The news today is about contrasts in corruption. In Baghdad, they do it the old-fashioned way, with Prime Minister Maliki’s friends and family taking $18 billion and then muscling or murdering those who try to expose them.

In Washington, the Bush Administration has been taking away our national morality to the point that headlines are all about crimes of character. Torturing and lying about torture is only the latest in a long list leading conservatives such as Andrew Sullivan to call his President a “war criminal” and David Brooks to accuse him of destroying the “social cohesion” that true conservatism values.

Testifying before a House panel yesterday, a former Iraqi investigator described scenes right out of our Roaring Twenties.

"They are so corrupt that they will attack their accusers and their families with guns and meat hooks, as well as countercharges of corruption," Judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi testified. He recounted how one of his staff was gunned down with his seven-month-pregnant wife, his security chief's father found dead on a meat hook and another investigator’s father riddled with holes from a power drill.

Bush and Cheney have been more subtle. Senate Committees are still trying to get hold of documents that apparently condone torture while the White House was, and still is, insisting that it doesn’t.

Democrats on Capitol Hill were demanding classified memos, disclosed by the New York Times, giving the C.I.A. approval in 2005 for “harsh interrogation techniques.”

Sen. Pat Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the 2005 opinions had “reinstated a secret regime by, in essence, reinterpreting the law in secret” and his panel had been asking for those opinions on interrogation for two years without success.

Chris Matthews summed it all up succinctly yesterday: "They've finally been caught in their criminality.” But the MSNBC anchor, who will co-host a Republican candidates debate next week, may be too optimistic. Unlike the new Baghdad government, Bush and Cheney have an almost seven-year backlog of illegality waiting to be uncovered.

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