• author
    • Kelvin Wade

    • December 10, 2014 in Columnists

    When do the rules apply to everyone?

    There’s a similarity between protests over Ferguson, the non-indictment of police in the chokehold killing of Eric Garner and the Senate’s release of their report of the CIA’s torture program. These are cases of injustice that government is sweeping under the rug.

    The problem with Ferguson is that with the grand jury information released to the public, legal experts could see there being reason to bring the case to trial. In the Garner case, a man was choked on camera and that still wasn’t enough to even bring a case to trial and let the evidence be tested before a jury.

    When you look at the Senate report on torture, it shows that the CIA lied about the number of prisoners they held and that they held 26 prisoners illegally. It says the CIA lied to Congress and the White House. The CIA deprived detainees of sleep for almost a week, often keeping them in stress positions. They slapped them and slammed them against walls, threatened them with dogs, waterboarded them and kept some in tiny boxes. They subjected some detainees to rectal feeding. They inserted pureed hummus, pasta and raisins into their rectums. Interrogators threatened detainees with rape and death. One died while chained naked to the floor. And the kicker is no “ticking time bomb” information was ever gained from them. Often detainees invented bogus information to stop the torture.

    The summary indicates that a quarter of the world’s countries helped in this effort. That would explain why one doesn’t see a lot of countries demonizing the U.S. on torture. Their hands are dirty. And since the names of these nations were redacted, again there’s no accountability.

    Keep in mind that the public is only seeing a 524-page summary of a still classified 6.000+ page report.

    Disgraced former Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA defended the program and denied it was torture. Cheney reiterates that the program was “approved,” which to me is an admission of guilt. Perhaps Mr. Cheney should be waterboarded, kept awake for days on end and rectally fed and see if he still doesn’t consider it torture.

    But the connection to the police officers skating on charges is that the same thing is happening with this report. Senate Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said, “Releasing this report is an important step to restoring our values and showing the world that we are a just society.” Okay. But it shouldn’t end there.

    What’s a report without accountability? President Obama has repeated the tired line again and again that torture is inconsistent with our values. That’s true. But more importantly, it’s inconsistent with our laws. And when laws are broken, there should be investigations and if warranted, arrests and prosecutions.

    I’d love to be able to rob a bank, get away with hundreds of thousands of dollars and have the government simply investigate my crime, issue a report on how I did it but let me keep the money and enjoy myself.

    Protestors marching about police injustices see a system where prosecutors, who regularly work with police departments, are reluctant to bring charges against people they work with and depend on. It’s a stacked deck. And in the federal government there’s a reluctance for new administrations to prosecute the preceding administration. It would be nearly impossible to keep partisanship out of it, with the fear that every new administration would investigate the last. But that’s why we need an impartial arbiter to oversee police misconduct cases and cases of government criminality.

    Another similar problem with the police protests and the CIA’s torture program is the victims involved. It’s hard getting the public to sympathize with Ferguson’s Michael Brown, who many see as a thug who got what he deserved after robbing a convenience store and bullying the clerk. And I have to admit that the thought of waterboarding the mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, doesn’t cause me sleepless nights.

    But that misses the entire point. The point in these cases is the behavior of government, not who the victim is. That’s why lady justice wears the blindfold. This is about possible crimes of the state. Do police have the right to be judge, jury and executioner? Should police be held accountable for their actions? Should the CIA officials and those that authorized their behavior be held accountable for breaking the law?

    It’s no surprise people are protesting. We’re tired of this shit. When do the laws apply to everyone? Where’s the accountability? We can see the injustice on video and still nothing is done. We can read this report, but what is the point if no one is held responsible for this horror show? There’s no reason for police not to choke the next guy on the street. There’s nothing that’s going to slow a future administration from torturing, because in the end, you get a finger wagging report and nothing else! That’s not justice. That’s why people are in the streets, fed up. They’re sick of one standard for minorities, another for the poor, a different one for the wealthy and yet another one for the well-connected and government. It makes me want to holler. It makes me want to pull my hair out. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t. I can’t even…I can’t even breathe! I can’t BREATHE!!!

      • Madgew

      • December 10, 2014 at 8:12 am
      • Reply

      What happened to consequences? This is what we teach our children everyday???? My kids and grandkids no this for goodness sakes. We need to extend this logic to everyone. Great writing Kelvin. Lessons learned with consequences.- old school it appears now with almost everyone.

      • Madgew

      • December 10, 2014 at 8:15 am
      • Reply

      Know this, damn spell check. I live my life by consequences. Why is the government, police and corporations exempt. I am so disappointed with all of it.

    • Great column. We are all responsible for holding our government accountable. We do not like what is happening in our streets, but we do understand why people are fed up.

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