From the Associated Press:
A hotly disputed Senate torture report concludes that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods provided no key evidence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to congressional aides and outside experts familiar with the investigation.
The "hot dispute," needless to say, comes from U.S. war criminals, whose testimonials are as honorable and valid as any Nuremberg suspect's.
That this nation's in pain is no secret. On the face of things, a sclerotic economy, high and chronically long unemployment, and an utterly dysfunctional capital city explain much of the hurt. But if a collective psyche there be, in Jungian terms, then I can't help but believe the ineradicable stain of the Bush administration's torture program simmers like a poison in the national mind--eating away at us, notwithstanding our past, pragmatic endorsements of whatever it takes to get the bad guys.
If we as Americans ever did possess a genuine "exceptionalism," then unquestionably one its key elements was our refusal of officially sanctioned barbarity in war. That's not to say America's fighting men and intelligence services never committed barbarous acts before the malignantly adventitious rise of Bush-Cheney; warfare is synonymous with blind and ignorant cruelty, and the "secret" histories of America's wars are no different. But never in this republic's history was torture officially blessed, for want of a better--or more accurate--term.
Historians, poets, novelists and filmmakers have for some time been on a quest to discover the precise and defining event in which America lost its "innocence," which, I think we'd all agree, pretty much everyone agrees we have indeed lost. From the Civil War's self-annihilation to the Spanish-American War's brutal imperial launch and even to Robert Redford's exploration of our 1950s' Quiz Show corruption, many a chronological candidate has been advanced. Maybe much of our innocence simply drained away over the centuries, making pinpointing the loss impossible.
Still, if I had to identify any one, exact moment when the United States joined the global community's unexceptional banalities of evil, that moment would be when Bush-Cheney hatched the torture of war prisoners and detainees as official U.S. policy.
Given the broad absence of public disapprobation of Bush-Cheney's doings, that was a plunge into history's inferno that we'll never entirely live down.