Friday, February 23, 2007

By the Company We Keep

All of us are known by the company we keep. Our mothers teach us that when we're kids and then spend close to two decades trying to keep us out of the wrong company.

Nations, too, are known by the company they keep. Other nations in the world watch and form their own judgments of states based in part on their allegiences. That's a troubling aspect of George W. Bush's Global War Without End on Terrorism. We've signed on and, since then, we've remained utterly mute to our prime ally's excesses, its outrages and its crimes. It's no excuse that there are plenty of excesses, outrages and crimes on the other side. We hold ourselves to a higher standard but we're quite willing to look the other way when our key ally sullies those standards.

A trial begins later this month in a Miami courtroom. On trial is Jose Padilla arrested at Chicago's O'Hare airport in May, 2002, branded an "enemy combattant" and hauled off to endure four years of torture so vile that one of his guards now calls him "a piece of furniture."

The US government has predicatably objected strenuously to any evidence being presented of Padilla's torture but the judge has stood up to them and will allow it in. Naomi Klein writes about the upcoming trial in The Nation:

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