Eerie similarity between Mark McGwire at the baseball hearing–“I’m not here to discuss the past”–and Porter Goss before Senate Armed Services on whether interrogation techniques used since 2001 have complied with US anti-torture laws–“I am not able to tell you that”.
Eerier still, to broaden the focus, is the refusal of American media (and bloggers too) to notice the similarities between what’s been happening since the runup to the war in the US, UK and Australia. When we’re isolated inside our American bubble, our problem seems as if it’s only our problem. But, while “extraordinary rendition” worms its ugly way into the national consciousness here, Britain has simultaneously been having a wrenching debate on the government’s proposed non-judicial orders for persons “under suspicion”, including house arrest and electronic tagging. The debate, especially as it moved between the House of Commons and the House of Lords (recently reformed by Tony Blair to make it less hereditary and more nearly–attention, Pres. Bush–democratic) put the focus sharply on the conflict between the government’s desire for security and the (unwritten) British constitution’s insistence on protection of individual liberty. Almost makes you wish our discussion of rendition were so focused on the basic principles at issue. Almost makes you wonder why a written Constituion suddenly doesn’t seem as robust as an unwritten one.
The other similarity rarely commented on here is the fact that three separate (and supposedly first-rate) intelligence agencies made exactly the same schoolboy errors (thin sourcing, neglecting to include caveats, stuff like that) in the pre-war intel on Saddam’s WMD. And all three countries had wannabe whistleblowers (Greg Thielmann here, Dr. David Jones in the UK, Andrew Wilkie in Oz) saying, in effect, “this intel stinks”. Which would suggest that David Kay was being disingenuous in his testimony to Congress last year: “we” were not “all wrong”.