Here's where the Republican Party has brought the United States: We are being lectured on the immorality of torture by Uganda. And rightfully so. The nation that was once the most brutal torture capital in the world has changed - and sadly, so have we.
I'm pleased that three GOP Senators and an ex-Secretary of State appear to have had enough - although that one's still in play. After all, how do you "negotiate" the allowable limits of torture in a civilized society? The very idea disgraces us. And McCain caved on the torture issue when he had a real card to play -- in the 2004 election. But let's hope they come through this time, for their country's sake.
Here's what our leaders are telling us: We're afraid. We know we're not very good at national security. We've read the reports that say our airports, power plants, and ports are no safer than they were on 9/11. We don't know how to win wars and protect our homeland the American way, so we need to cheat. We need to jettison the values that make us Americans.
We can't protect America and preserve the values that make it America. That's what the Republicans are saying.
Their consigliere is Alan Dershowitz. A year ago, his briefs for torture were the extremist sentiments of a fringe thinker. Now his point of view, which is that the rules for torture should be codified into statutes, is about to become American law.
That's how radical this government is, and how quickly it moves to undercut core American beliefs.
Americans used to say they were willing to fight and die for their liberties. Not these guys. They were too cowardly to go fight in a war they supported. Now they're too frightened even to cower in their 'secure undisclosed locations,' if they're required to meet the rules of a civilized society. And their cowardice echoed by today's conservative keyboard warriors and television Rambos.
That's the "coward" part. Here's the "stupid" part: Military officers and intelligence officials oppose the hideous Bush bill because they know it will endanger Americans, not protect them. Our military leaders - the ones insulted and belitted by the arrogant amateur Rumsfeld - know that our fighting men and women are far more likely to be tortured horribly if this bill goes through.
(Yes, they've been tortured before, but the generals know full well how much worse it can get.)
Like our military leaders, the intelligence experts hate this bill because they know more than the amateurs do. They know that torture gives you lousy intelligence, and that bad intelligence slows you down by sending you down the wrong roads when you're trying to find the bad guys.
The cowardice is also very personal for Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. They're no doubt afraid that, unless this bill is passed, they may someday stand trial for the atrocities they've committed - some of which may not yet have come to light.
Lastly, here's where "stupid" and "coward" come together: An America that's disrespected in the world community won't get cooperation from allies and neutral countries. That cooperation is needed if we're going to root out the terrorists and destroy them.
The crowd that's in power now talks about our values, but they can't wait to dump them. They talk about being better than the terrorists, then can't wait to act just like them. They're a stain on our national honor.
It's no coincidence that the guys with the guts to fight the conservatives' wars think torture is a bad idea, while chickenhawks like Bush, Cheney, and Frist think waterboarding is the best thing to come out of Argentina since the tango.
Cowards, go home. Let the experts do their jobs. If you do, then maybe someday soon Americans will again be able to speak to the world with the moral authority of Ugandans.
A Night Light