Hey, America. Do you have a minute to talk? About us? It’s kind of important.
See, I was at this lecture the other night. And, well, some professors said some pretty harsh things about you. It was in the Connelly Cinema on the sixth. It was pretty full, so I don’t blame you if you couldn’t find a seat.
Professors Gabriel Rockhill and Julie Klein were presenting on your use of torture and illegal rendition. I’d heard the rumors before, but I wanted to believe you were different than that. Professor Rockhill told me that even the Clinton administration used illegal rendition in order to detain terrorism suspects. Aren’t you supposed to have a respect for the rule of law?
I want to believe that you are just trying to protect yourself. Al Gore, whom I love dearly, even supported rendition. According to Richard Clarke’s book “Against All Enemies,” Gore said, “The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.”
But the thing is, you don’t even do rendition well. You detained a German national named Khaled el-Masri in 2003 and flew him to secret prisons all over the world. And his only crime was having a name similar to a real terrorist – Khaled al-Masri. But you had a “hunch” that you had to go with. Do you really expect me to buy that? I know you too well, America, and I won’t let myself think you are stupid.
And don’t even get me started on this whole issue of torture. George W. Bush might say you don’t torture, but that’s a lie, and you know it. CIA Director Michael Hayden admitted that three detainees had been subjected to waterboarding in the recent past. And that testimony completely contradicted the stance of the entire government for the past few years.
Add that to the whole Abu Ghraib scandal and I find it hard to believe that this outbreak of torture is just the result of a few “bad apples.” You’re pressing people too hard for information they don’t know, and that pressure comes out in the form of military police and interrogators doing anything they can to get information. Even as a means of utility, torture doesn’t produce good intelligence, and most intelligence agents say that psychological influence works better. Who do you think you are, America? Jack Bauer?
Hearing these terrible things got me thinking. What other things had you done that I didn’t know about? It turns out that you’re behind almost every two-bit murderous dictator in the last 50 years!
In 1973 you decided that you didn’t like Chile’s experiment in socialism, so you implemented Project FUBELT. With the CIA, you overthrew Allende and supported the junta of Augusto Pinochet. His government was guilty of over 3,000 murders and disappearances, as well as 35,000 separate cases of torture.
You supported the recently deceased Suharto in his dictatorial rule over Indonesia, from 1967 until 1998. His crimes are even worse than Pinochet’s. He led an anti-communist purge in the early 1960s that killed between 500,000 and one million people. In 1975 he invaded East Timor, killing 100,000 Timorese, mostly civilians. Some historians call the atrocities of that invasion a genocide.
And what do you have to say for yourself? You supported dictators because we needed to beat communism. You torture terrorists who hate us so you can stop terrorists who hate us from attacking us. And you have the audacity to call yourself the greatest country in the world.
But that’s what makes me so angry. I know you’re better than this. You don’t – no, you can’t want to be guilty of all these things. We have a lot of work to do, you and I, to make this better. Because you see, America, you’re my country, and I love you. And I love you even with all your faults because I know that if we work hard enough, you can get better.
So I’m to stand with you and try to fix things. Canada was really trying to get me to dump you in 2004, but I stuck around. You know I’m a sucker for you. Happy Valentine’s Day, honey.
Tom Nardi is a senior political science major from Philadelphia, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]