There it is this morning -- the most representative snapshot yet of what the Bush administration has wrought: three adjacent stories of horror and despair cascading down the Washington Post's front page.
Before proceeding, it is first worth noting that the journalistic tension at the Post now seems to have reached the farcical level of the Wall Street Journal's: its reporters report -- see above; "stories of horror" -- then its elite editorial corps settles back and repackages the horrible contemporaneities into the blandly tolerable.
And this morning we have step one of the two-pronged process: three headlines, reading top to bottom, "CIA's 'Ghost Prisoners' Fade into Obscurity," "U.S. to Order Diplomats to Iraq," and "Not 'Worth Another Soldier's Life.'"
If you ever wanted a handy spot-check of the status quo's central front, there you have it: Those who are there want the hell out; those who aren't there want to stay the hell out; and some of those who lived on the edges have simply vanished, Pinochet-style.
As for the latter, since a bit more than a year ago, when our memo-comforted commander in chief nevertheless declared an end to his archipelago of secret prisons (I still can't believe any American would have to write such a line) and he transferred some of the torture victims (there's goes that incredulity again) to Guantanamo Bay, there "has been no official accounting of what happened to about 30 other 'ghost prisoners' who spent extended time in the custody of the CIA." Some, the story reports, "have disappeared without a trace."
That's one way to beat habeas. It's ruthlessly efficient; still, I hope the international courts will demur and obtain the necessary writs when ordering war-crimes trials of America's finest. And I believe they know precisely where to find at least one of them.
The second story almost provides comic relief, however. It seems the State Department has figured a way around all its unanswered "Help Wanted in Iraq" ads. "On Monday, 200 to 300 [Foreign Service officers] will be notified of their selection as 'prime candidates' for 50 open positions." Very open -- despite the potential for world adventure, however short-lived that adventure may be. In fact, I'm so career and financially challenged I'm thinking of applying myself, thereby sparing one of these poor drafted bastards. Dear Condi: Please forward app.
One imagines, this very morning, 2000 to 3000 frenzied and terrified fingers clutching Foreign Service desks in, oh, say, Europe and sunny Southeast Asia. Budding democratic wonderlands are a thrilling professional challenge, no doubt, but some are less attractive than others, and yet others, it seems, are worthy of mandatory professional fulfillment. The State Department has kindly announced that "those who receive the selection letters will have 10 days to file a written notice of objection," and one further imagines a departmental expectation of roughly 200 to 300 of said objections -- and don't you know the vast majority will be pure poetry.
But switching from those who mouth dedication to those proving it, we have the improperly placed third story: "Not 'Worth Another Soldier's Life.'"
Forget the triumphalist drivel of right-wing radio and soothing testimony of the general staff. Baghdad, according to those who know best, is a living hell -- a wretchedly barren, bombed-out snake pit of ethnic and sectarian anguish that translates "stay the course" into the hopelessly endless.
More than a year ago, when "soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, arrived in southwestern Baghdad," they possessed a good deal of that spirited patriotic hope. Now, after meeting reality, they are "deeply discouraged, by both the unabated hatred between rival sectarian fighters and the questionable will of the Iraqi government to work toward peaceful solutions."
So discouraged, in fact, the battalion sergeant observed: "I don't think this place is worth another soldier's life."
That place was, of course, never worth the first soldier's life. Nor the first dollar of the trillion and counting wasted. Nor America's world standing. Nor the secret prisons, nor the Gestapo tactics, nor the fraudulent menaces to democracy at home, nor any of the other countless official debaucheries.
Yet such is the loathsome folly the Bush administration has wrought; a folly that now blankets the front pages. Notwithstanding, there the administration sits -- securely in charge, despised and besieged by the world but virtually unopposed within the confines of the District of Columbia.
to support p m carpenter's commentary -- and thank you!