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“No, Please, Tell Us That We Did Not Do That!”–Sheldon Whitehouse

Speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave an impassioned speech on the issue of setting up a commission to investigate Bush Administration crimes. I strongly encourage everyone to watch the video, which can be seen here on his website. A transcript also was posted by Glenn Greenwald here.

There is real passion and anger in Whitehouse’s voice and in his demeanor as he gives this speech. Here he is at the height of passion:

We also have to brace ourselves for the realistic possibility that as some of this conduct is exposed, we and the world will find it shameful, revolting. We may have to face the prospect of looking with horror at our own country’s deeds. We are optimists, we Americans; we are proud of our country. Contrition comes hard to us.

But the path back from the dark side may lead us down some unfamiliar valleys of remorse and repugnance before we can return to the light. We may have to face our fellow Americans saying to us, "No, please, tell us that we did not do that, tell us that Americans did not do that" – and we will have to explain, somehow. This is no small thing, and not easy; this will not be comfortable or proud; but somehow it must be done.

When I first saw this speech, it occurred to me that Whitehouse seemed to be operating from a fresh anger. There is now a bit of evidence to back up that feeling. In addition to serving on the Judiciary Committee, and thus having no considerable influence on Chairman Leahy’s planned hearing on structuring a commission, Whitehouse also serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. In an AP article about the investigation into the CIA’s destruction of videotapes of interrogations, we have this:

The Intelligence Committee is already investigating the CIA’s destruction in 2007 of videotapes of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah in 2007 to encompass the origins and effectiveness of the so-called "enhanced interrogation program" authorized by President George W. Bush. Scores of secret documents have already been assembled by the committee.[Emphasis added.]

Has the Intelligence Committee come up with even more damning evidence of torture committed by the United States? Is it so outrageous that it will make us all say, "No, please tell us we did not do this?" Why else would Whitehouse say "This is no small thing, and not easy; this will not be comfortable or proud; but somehow it must be done"?

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Jim White

Jim White

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