Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Loose Lips Sink Ruling Parties

On Nov. 2, the Washington Post broke the news that the CIA is detaining and interrogating suspected terrorists in a network of covert "black prisons" located in former Soviet bloc nations. Reporter Dana Priest based the story on information provided by anonymous government officials who are concerned about the program's ethical and pragmatic problems. Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert are outraged, of course--but not at the fact that the prisons exist. No, what concerns them is the fact that word got out, and today they called for a joint investigation into the matter because "if accurate, such an egregious disclosure could have long-term and far-reaching damaging and dangerous consequences" (I know it looks like there's a typo in that quote, but that's exactly how it appeared in the Post article).

Now how could secret detention centers in backwater countries possibly hurt the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism, especially if, as our president declared recently, "we do not torture?" It may very well be that the interrogation methods employed at these black prisons are perfectly in keeping with the Geneva Conventions, but secrecy has a nasty way of sparking speculation. That they're located in unidentified foreign nations and neither the CIA nor the White House will confirm or deny their existence only fans the flames of suspicion further. Recent history has shown that what's really hurting America's fight against terrorists are our ill-considered interrogation techniques (cf. Gitmo and Abu Ghraib) and the need for secrecy that goes along with them. And the government still has yet to reveal to the American people any actionable evidence that might help justify the existence of these shadowy facilities.

It seems as though each passing week unearths a fresh lie or secret whose fallout further erodes the GOP's onetime near-complete dominance of American politics. If this keeps up, I don't see how they'll survive 2006, let alone 2008. Thomas Jefferson once said that our nation needs a revolution every twenty years or so, but it looks like the changeover might come a few years early for the current regime. To whoever eventually replaces our still-formidable Republican majoritarians, I offer the following advice: keep only those secrets which are absolutely essential. Because in government, lying is like crack--you can't do it just once, and if you get hooked, you're as good as ousted; it's just a matter of time.