May 26, 2004

'He has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.'

Should-have-been-president Al Gore gave quite a speech in New York today. It's a lengthy indictment of Dubya's policies at home and abroad, centering on Iraq and the torture at the Abu Ghraib prison. You should read the whole thing, but here's the conclusion:

In December of 2000, even though I strongly disagreed with the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to order a halt to the counting of legally cast ballots, I saw it as my duty to reaffirm my own strong belief that we are a nation of laws and not only accept the decision, but do what I could to prevent efforts to delegitimize George Bush as he took the oath of office as president.

I did not at that moment imagine that Bush would, in the presidency that ensued, demonstrate utter contempt for the rule of law and work at every turn to frustrate accountability...

So today, I want to speak on behalf of those Americans who feel that President Bush has betrayed our nation's trust, those who are horrified at what has been done in our name, and all those who want the rest of the world to know that we Americans see the abuses that occurred in the prisons of Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and secret locations as yet undisclosed as completely out of keeping with the character and basic nature of the American people and at odds with the principles on which America stands.

I believe we have a duty to hold President Bush accountable - and I believe we will. As Lincoln said at our time of greatest trial, "We - even we here - hold the power, and bear the responsibility."

We just wish that Gore had been able to call the 'abuses' at Abu Ghraib what they are: Torture.


Eating crow: As a couple of comments point out, Gore did indeed use the word 'torture.' Frequently. For some reason, though, we didn't remember reading it. And when we scanned the page for 'torture,' nothing came up. Or so we thought.

We plead diminished capacity, your honor.

Posted by Magpie at May 26, 2004 08:50 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |

Actually Mr. Gore did call the actions at Abu Ghraib torture in his speech, and more than once. I read it, and thought it was one of the greatest speeches I have ever read.

Posted by: Frank at May 27, 2004 01:49 AM

FWIW, Gore used the word "torture" 12 times in his speech, and indeed stressed its use over other words. I would have liked to hear how he actually speaks the second graf below.

What a great speech. It's too bad, though, that the situation had to get this bad before he spoke such emotion. How much worse will things get (hoping it doesn't, of course) and how much more emotion will we start hearing from our leaders? A lot more is needed, I believe, before voters and people in general start listening. Let's hope the cycle is finally turning toward doing what's necessary, what's fair, and what's right.

some excerpts...

How did we get from September 12th , 2001, when a leading French newspaper ran a giant headline with the words "We Are All Americans Now" and when we had the good will and empathy of all the world -- to the horror that we all felt in witnessing the pictures of torture in Abu Ghraib.

[. . .]

Private Lynndie England did not make the decision that the United States would not observe the Geneva Convention. Specialist Charles Graner was not the one who approved a policy of establishing an American Gulag of dark rooms with naked prisoners to be "stressed" and even -- we must use the word -- tortured -- to force them to say things that legal procedures might not induce them to say.

[. . .]

The president exploited and fanned those fears, but some otherwise sensible and levelheaded Americans fed them as well. I remember reading genteel-sounding essays asking publicly whether or not the prohibitions against torture were any longer relevant or desirable. The same grotesque misunderstanding of what is really involved was responsible for the tone in the memo from the president's legal advisor, Alberto Gonzalez, who wrote on January 25, 2002, that 9/11 "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."

We have seen the pictures. We have learned the news. We cannot unlearn it; it is part of us. The important question now is, what will we do now about torture. Stop it? Yes, of course.

[. . .]

Posted by: Ron at May 27, 2004 06:13 AM

Yes, a good speech. However, I don't believe he could have made such a speech had he been in, or running for, office. And I seriously doubt that he would have made such a speech had it been a Democrat in office committing crimes and blunders of such a magnitude.

These may seem petty points, but I don't think they are. I think that the American political system is to blame for the present problem, and that, unfortunately, people like Gore want to keep it that way.

Posted by: MFB at May 27, 2004 08:48 AM