Given the extensive coverage of the candidates’ wives appearing on The View, it seems any candidate’s spouse must assure the media that he/she is sufficiently proud of America so as not to disturb the equanimity of those who don’t seem bothered by what’s happened to their country. But if you’re one of those who actually read the news or watched Congressional hearings this week, you’d be anything but proud of what’s being reported.

This week we received further confirmation from the astonishing McClatchy series on Afghanistan detentions that US forces almost indiscriminately rounded up and detained hundreds of people, many of them completely innocent. Many were picked up by mistake, turned over based on misinformation, vendettas or bounties, but authorities had no credible process for screening those they detained. Prisoners were then systematically abused; they were routinely beaten and humiitated by US soldiers and some tortured by US interrogators.

McClatchy also confirmed that the most senior attorneys in the White House, the OVP, DoJ and DoD secretly planned and orchestrated this unlawful detention and interrogation system. They knew the system was outside accepted legal boundaries, that it violated the Geneva Conventions and US laws prohibiting torture. They hid the most abused detainees from the Red Cross, according to Senate discovered documents. Knowing they were authorizing crimes, the cabal conspired to create an extralegal cover, approved by the President, to shield themselves and those who carried out the abuses from criminal liability. Attorneys who protested were transferred. None of these people has been held accountable.

We know that the system created new enemies inside the prisons, and when the horrors inevitably leaked out, they became the basis for recruiting even more enemies across the Muslim world. But none of those responsible for thus endangering American troops and US security has been held accountable.

Major General Taguba, whom the Pentagon directed to conduct an investigation of the abuses at Abu Ghraib, concluded there was no doubt the Bush Administration had sanctioned and committed war crimes. His conclusions were echoed by Colonel Wilkerson, whom Secretary of State Powell directed to investigate how the Abu Ghraib abuses came about. Wilkerson told the House Judiciary Committee that harsh treatment of detainees had caused at least 25 homicides. [More here (h/t MarieRoget).] In short, two respected military officers ordered to investigate what happened found that senior Administration officials knowingly created a torture regime.

No senior military or civilian official has ever been held accountable for this shameful chapter of American history. Administration officials continue to lie about it to this day. The President and his senior advisers still deny any responsibility, while the President cowardly blames the lowest ranking troops — a "few bad apples."

We know the President and his chief lawyers sanctioned warrantless surveillance practices that were not merely unconstitutional; they were felonies. No one has ever been held accountable. Yet today, the House is expected to vote to give immunity to telecoms who cooperated in these crimes and give the President of the United States, the man primarily responsible for all that has happened, and whom Americans strongly disapprove in record numbers, essentially everything he asked for to spy on Americans without any meaningful oversight.

And so far, we’ve had a dismaying silence from the two men running for President. Where is their leadership? Why should we support them?

Instead of showing endless reruns about which wife is prouder of America, why can’t the media ask our Presidential candidates — and themselves — whether they’re proud of these revelations. Are they proud of the torture and abuses carried out in America’s name? Are they proud of how little Congress did to rein in these actions after they became known? Would they sanction the same criminal behavior if they were President? What should the nation do to hold accountable those who authorized these crimes? How will they make amends and restore America’s honor and shattered reputation?

At a time when many Americans are not feeling particularly proud of their government’s behavior, the media would do well to stop their mindless and insulting preoccupation with spousal pride. You’re embarrassing us; you’re hurting the country.

You’d think the media could respect the fact that many of us are in mourning too; we weep for what our nation has lost lost and may never get back.

Bush pic by comandante aji under a Creative Commons license



John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley