Saturday, November 05, 2005

Our East European Gulag

Rosa Brooks, writing in today's Los Angeles Times, recounts the news from a Washington Post story published earlier this week about the CIA's use of secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and questions whether America's values, which served the nation well during the Cold War, have survived the "war on terror." She writes,

During the Cold War, we thought we knew what distinguished us from our Soviet bloc enemies. We did not have a gulag; we did not imprison and torture our enemies. But the war on terror has distorted our national values. We have used some of the same tactics we once decried. The Soviet Union's legacy of terror lives on, its tactics embraced by some of our leaders. Vice President Dick Cheney continues to insist that the McCain amendment, which prohibits U.S. personnel from cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners, should not be applicable to the CIA.

We Americans have always had an inflated view of our nation's moral righteousness, but rarely has the gap been so dramatic between who we believe ourselves to be and who our actions show us to be in reality.