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Let's Start by Drawing a Line in the Sand

09.30.2005 12:24 | DISPATCHES

According to the always enlightening Wayne Madsen, CIA Director Porter Goss's successor as House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chairman, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, has coughed up a choice piece of information.

Some HPSCI members also belong to special House caucuses that are established by lobbyists for foreign nations and, according to Hoekstra, are now providing information to the CIA. In other words, they're laundering lobbying into intelligence.

Cleverness aside, the administration has leaned so hard on the end justifying the means that, like an addiction, it's biting back at them. Defense Department official Larry Franklin, former General Services Administration's Chief of Staff David Hossein, and, of course, Tom DeLay, are either under investigation or have been indicted.

Machiavelli-think has become such an integral part of realpolitik in America that a policy maker is not considered a man until he indulges in it. Meanwhile, to much of the public, CIA "renditioning" of suspected terrorists is just another TV show: Police States Who Torture and the Super-Power That Enables Them.

The trouble is, the generalized Geneva Conventions aside, there's no meter that tells a policy maker how far he can go in practice before the validity of the end is swamped by the illegitimacy of the means. Some think tank or graduate school program needs to draw up an explicit set of hypothetical situations and gradate the legitimacy of various responses.

Failing that, is there an individual more intrepid than the rest of us willing to take on a project like this? Another Rafael Lempkin, for example? As Samantha Powers documented in A Problem from Hell, Lempkin formulated the term genocide and spent years working to make it illegal under international law.

Of course, there's no guarantee any state would adhere to it. Still, drawing a line in the sand is always a good place to start.


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