Friday, August 07, 2009

Cover Ups Are Long American Tradition

Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX) leads the charge in keeping photographs of detainee abuse secret. There is precedent for covering up America's horrific actions in time of war. It happened after the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese chronicled the devastation in black & white. When the U.S. occupation began, an American team shot film in Technicolor. HuffPo reported:

The public did not see any of the newsreel footage for 25 years, and the U.S. military film remained hidden for nearly four decades.

The negative of the finished Japanese film, nearly 15,000 feet of footage on 19 reels, was sent off to the U.S. in early May 1946. The Japanese were also ordered to include in this shipment all photographs and related material. The footage would be labeled SECRET and not emerge from the shadows for more than 20 years.

Still, the question of precisely why the footage remained secret for so long lingered. Here (the Pentagon's Daniel) McGovern added his considerable voice. "The main reason it was classified was because of the horror, the devastation," he said. "The medical effects were pretty gory. The attitude was: do not show any medical effects. Don't make people sick."

President Obama and Representative Conaway, don't make people sick with America's disturbing acts of war. Don't soil our beautiful minds. Will we be ready between 2034 and 2049 for visual documentation of the horror, gore and medical effects perpetrated on detainees? Will we retch when we find women and children drawn into America's abusive clutches?

Bury it, so the fictions can be maintained. How long before any person in custody is subject to rough interrogation methods? How long before citizens are held without habeas corpus? Think I'm a bit over the top? The Bush administration frequently referred to "tactical" nuclear weapon use. Rough methods could become a similar tactic.

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