Tonight on the drive home, between CDs, I caught the tail end of an Al Kresta segment. He was making the case that because other nations dismembered or decapitated or poured acid into the open wounds of their enemies that the Senate report on CIA torture is not the damning thing that it is, that America is not as bad as the bad guys.
I flipped around the dial, where I heard arguments that it all, the cruelty and evil, the hanging from the wrists, the cold dark and nakedness, the anal abuse, the horror, was justified because it produced evidence that averted a terrorist attack. Or that it was all understandable, all this getting carried away, because dammit, it was in the wake of 9/11, the most traumatic thing that had happened to civilian America since what? The War of 1812? Or that hey, it was such a long time ago. Don’t we as a nation (‘United We Stand’) need to just let it go, forget it ever happened?
After all, we all meant well and we were scared.
The release of this document has meant a return to the spectacle of otherwise intelligent men in suits calmly defending the indefensible. Catholics for whom America is the true god explain again for us how the atrocities revealed therein somehow do not constitute torture.
Prominent among these is General Michael Hayden, director of the National Security Agency (NSA) from 1999 to 2005, and then head of the CIA until he retired in 2009. General Hayden has publicly defended torture in the past and he is once again making the rounds as an apologist for cruelty in the name of nationalism.
General Hayden is also a Catholic. One would think that a Church which is very publicly considering which sinners to allow to receive communion would have no difficulty stating that someone who has overseen the torture of prisoners and who defends this publicly would be ineligible to receive the Eucharist.
But far from it. General Hayden in 2012 was awarded an honorary doctorate by the self-proclaimed ‘passionately Catholic’ Franciscan University of Steubenville.
And he delivered the commencement address.
I tried to raise a ruckus about this when it occurred but was met by widespread indifference. This is the piece I wrote when I realize that there was little outrage over Hayden’s honors:
But now, two and a half years later, with General Hayden again in the news and the depressing debate about torture reignited, there is a petition circulating for the University to rescind his honorary doctorate.
And you can sign it here: