Wednesday, May 30, 2007

tone deaf or pitch perfect?

I have written in the past with some degree of shock and amazement about the words chosen by the Bush Administration when it sets out to pitch its so-called security initiatives to a post 9/11 America. There was The New Way Forward, which reminded me of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, and, most notably, the constant references to “homeland” and “homeland security,” words that (as I’ve said before) “instantly reminded me of apartheid South African Pass Laws and Bantustans, and Nazi Germany’s Heimatland.”

So, should I be any more surprised to now discover that the Bush Bunch has once again reached into the Nazi phrasebook?

. . . the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn’t-somehow-torture - “enhanced interrogation techniques” - is a term originally coined by the Nazis.

I know I shouldn’t be. Sadly, I am more shocked by the choice of words than I am by the choice of techniques.

The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.

Nor am I the least bit surprised that for all the security programs pimped and all the money spent, the reality proves the promotion singularly meretricious:

A group of experts advising the intelligence agencies on interrogation techniques are arguing that “the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable.”

The psychologists and other specialists, commissioned by the Intelligence Science Board, make the case that more than five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has yet to create an elite corps of interrogators trained to glean secrets from terrorism suspects.

Still, with the billions the administration has spent on high-tech wizardry and “total information awareness,” you would think there is some propaganda equivalent of “spell check” available to White House pitchmen to help flag unfortunate references to previous totalitarian regimes. Or, maybe, this track record of frightening phraseology is proof they indeed have just such a tool.

(Oh, and, speaking of tools, I know some of you are waiting for my response to Terry’s response to my response to Terry’s response. . . soon, very soon. Somebody opened up a big can of worms, and I’m searching for just the right hook.)

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