Sunday, December 04, 2005

Unbalanced and Check-free

I was afraid of this.

A couple of weeks ago, I rendered an opinion about Condolezza Rice and lauded her for her then recent efforts in the Middle East in negotiating a deal to open the Gaza strip to free passage -- to and from -- for Palestinians there. As I said then,
Nonetheless, after initially thinking Rice was just another Bush hack, which she certainly was as the NSA, her removal from the turmoil in Washington appears to have suited her well and she actually seems to be getting some positive results, however minor they may be. And that is certainly a refreshing change from what we have been seeing with the rest of this administration.
But it did come with a caveat:
I am just hoping Rice has found her niche and will continue what I see as the only positive job performance coming out of the White House. I may be confessing some naivete here. She hardly deserves much trust yet, but there are some hopeful signs. I just hope she doesn't make me regret this opinion.
Oh, Condi. You have.

With the EU pressuring the United States about the purported secret CIA prisons extant in eastern European countries and demanding an investigation, Rice adopted a diplomatic air and pledged to "respond to an EU inquiry into the issue." It was further reported that she had told German secretary, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, that the United States would "cooperate" with the investigation. I wondered then what might be meant by cooperation because the story was laced with veiled denials that anything untoward was going on and that the US was pursuing the war on terror in a "law-abiding way." But most everyone is a little fuzzy on just what the White House means by "law-abiding" these days and this hardly sounded like much of an assurance.

Well, the other day we learned just what Condi meant by "cooperation":
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to give allies in Europe a response next week to their pressure over Washington's treatment of terrorism suspects: back off.
Rice comes by this position by asserting that the EU should "trust that America does not allow rights abuses." Just how or why US allies should do this is not made clear. In fact, after Rice refused to assure Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern that Ireland had not been an extraordinary rendition transfer point, it remains very unclear how anyone should trust anything about this claim. Let's not even get into Abu Graib.

Remarkably, Rice further insisted that European allies try to win over public opinion in their respective countries to deflect criticism of the US. As usual, it's all about perception for Bush administration: don't change how you behave, only work on changing how people think you behave. Apparently, Rice also expects these hapless Europeans to further convince their citizens that the US does not "break international law," even though the invasion of Iraq was a clear violation of international law, a judgement that was rendered by, not only Kofi Anan, but PNAC war architect Richard Perle. So, good luck with that task, euro-tools.

But let's go back to the previous claim that Rice would have European diplomats insist to their citizenry, "trust that America does not allow rights abuses." This is going to be an especially difficult task given that is has just been revealed by WaPo that the CIA kidnapped and mistakenly imprisoned a German citizen for five months. But then again, this kind of thing can depend on what the meaning of "abuse" is.

Needless to say, I'm rather disappointed in Rice, not because she is towing the White House/Cheney line of insisting on the right to abuse while claiming the US doesn't do it, but because I had thought she might offer some tempering influence to Cheney's insanity. But it is clear that she is not the one who will do that. At this point, I doubt there is any such person in the executive. Any reasonable voices have long since been purged.

Rarely has a week gone by lately that some new travesty has not be offered up for the world, demonstrating what lawless, craven maniacs now occupy the seat of government. And now I wonder what in the hell has happened to this country's vaunted system of checks and balances. It is nowhere to be seen.


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