President Bush issued a press release this past week about our economy. In addition to talking about the great shape the economy is in, he took a jab at critics of his heavy-handed interrogation strategy.
His message? If you want to be safe, trust us. This is basically the message that Bush and the Republicans have used to justify the entire war effort. Trust us and don’t ask any questions.
The President justifies torture by saying that the American people want “actionable intelligence.” While this may be true, there is no sign that his program has produced any.
Bush also states that “this government does not torture people.” His statement is at odds with recent evidence showing that the Bush administration authorized the CIA to use torture techniques. The folks at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay also might disagree.
Third, he says that we have highly trained professionals who know what they are doing and will work to protect you. This is a another common strategy of Republicans: disclaiming responsibility and placing it with “professionals” who know what they are doing.
Again, the message is trust us, we know what we’re doing.
So how to respond?
We should keep hammering at a single question, what are the objectives of …? Insert any Republican program here.
Why? Because we need to hold the administration accountable. And the only way to hold them accountable is to get them to state what their goals are and how they will measure success. Again and again this administration has been let off the hook because they refuse to give any measurable objectives.
For example, Republicans have claimed that the Iraq War is making us safer. The question then (as Senator John Warner so adeptly asked) is, are we really safer?Similarly, are we really gaining any “actionable intelligence” that is worth undermining our moral standing in the world for?
We should be asking questions like:
- Why do we need torture techniques?
- Where is the proof that these are successful?
- Isn’t this hurting our case for international credibility? How can we push for American democracy when we are torturing prisoners? We should lead by example.
The current administration has gone too long and spent too much money without having to show any results. If the government were a business, we’d be demanding a measurable return on investment. It’s time to end the blank checks and push for justice for all.