Massie thinks out loud about torture:
I tend to take the view that a panicked reaction in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 is one thing (and in fact entirely reasonable) but actions taken months and years after it quite another and it is distressing how many people and pundits on the American right fail to understand that Guantanamo is, for many people, a more grievous stain than anything else done in the Bush years. Iraq* can be considered - if you will - a blunder; Guantanamo (and Bagram) cannot.
Bestowing the label of "panicked reaction" on Iraq is a benefit of the doubt that the Bush administration doesn't deserve. As we well know, Iraq was done with clear eyes and full (black) hearts. Same with Gitmo, the calculation is also obvious, though I might never understand how the Bush people ever figured they would not be widely regarded across the globe as war criminals. When you depart that far from the accepted norm—and from civilized Western law—you invite attention. And it's not as though every day in this country was going to be 9-12. The Bush administration adopted policy in a manner that leads one to conclude they felt the country would rally around their cause indefinitely, never mind that every regime, dictatorship and fascist state that the Bush torture tactics are compared with never rested on the need to be reaffirmed into power. Unlike with the Nazis or Russians, the American people have the ability to overthrow the executive branch every four years. It's a bit easier to rationalize war crimes, I suppose, when you assume you'll be in power for life. That the Bush administration ignored this detail is jaw-dropping. It's almost as though neoconservatism came to believe that its own exceptionalism—and that of America (fuck yeah!)—would both absolve and uniquely empower a president and vice president to commit evil and somehow bend it toward good.