Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ready, Fire, Aim

It is my habit to withhold outrage until I confirm the accuracy of subjects about which I might become outraged, and right here is a perfect example of why I do that. I admire Glenn Greenwald enormously, and if you don’t have his column on your daily reading list, shame on you, but he has been known to fire before aiming.

The short story is that he wrote a column filled with his elegant and lethal outrage over the White House appointing a psychologist to serve on a board serving the emotional needs of military families. This psychologist had been instrumental in the torture of “detainees” at Guantanamo and still has his license to practice only because the statute of limitations had run out before he was brought up on charges in the state where he is licensed. Like Glenn, I was appalled when I read of his appointment, but decided to wait for further developments.

It turns out, as Greenwald’s original column accurately says, that the news of his appointment to the White House board was from a letter distributed by Dr. James himself. I can’t say I blame Glenn for assuming that the letter was accurate, because who would send out what amounts to a press release about something that was untrue?

Well, it turns out Dr. James would. The White House responded to Greenwald’s request for information, and their email named a couple of associations that were involved in the meeting and then said, “We understand that Dr. James is involved with these groups and may have been indirectly invited to attend this meeting.” The message went on to say that he was not specifically on the guest list, and finished, “Dr. James has not been appointed to serve in any capacity with the White House."

Greenwald may miss his intended target, but he hits an even better one. His post serves to remind us of what Guantanamo was all about, and why we should be outraged that it has not been closed. Obama’s plan to move it to Illinois was never sufficient, because the problem was never about an island in the Caribbean. The problem is the whole concept of indefinite imprisonment without trial, of trial by a “justice” system which is designed to convict and of the corruption and subversion of values that made this nation strong for more than two centuries.

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