Monday, January 21, 2008

The Vice President Will Be With You Shortly. Please Ignore The Screams. It's, Uh, Workmen

You know, we've sort have had this feeling these last seven years and one day (but who's counting?) that things have been kind of trending down in this country. Nothing big really, just a lot of little things. Endless war, government incompetence and corruption, checks and balances ignored or abandoned, corporate greed becoming unfettered by regulation, destruction of the environment, economy in free fall, Packers lose at Lambeau. Stuff like that. A lot of niggling little incidents that in and of themselves we're told are minor, but combined they lead one to the conclusion that perhaps the promise of America isn't as bright and true as the founding fathers intended.

Now all doubt has been removed. In one terrible blow all that America promises and fails to deliver, all the squandered potential, all the delicate dreams laid waste by Empire America, Inc. have been brought forth and dropped at our feet. No longer can we delude ourselves. No longer can we live the facade, the Potemkin Village of democracy. There stands before us now the sum total of all our failures and in the brilliant light of truth she fixes us with her steely gaze, points her finger and says, "J'accuse!"

Well, in Quebec anyway.

Maxime Bernier, the Canadian foreign minister has apologized for including the US on a list of states where prisoners are at risk of torture. "You were really supposed to go on the list of counties that are emotionally distant and make prisoners feel they're putting all the work into the relationship and getting nothing in return," he said. "It was just an editing error."

"We find it to be offensive for us to be on the same list with countries like Iran and China. Quite frankly it's absurd," said the US ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins. "We're way better at torture than they are. Did you see what we did to Padilla? Messed that homey up, yo."

In a statement on Saturday, Mr Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the list and promised it would be changed to reflect the Canadian government's official position. When asked what the Canadian position was with regards to how America treated prisoners, Mr. Bernier replied, "Don't ask, don't tell."

The manual lists US interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation, Bush state of the union speeches and the blindfolding of prisoners under its definition of torture. "We're not saying that Americans are torturing the prisoners when they do those things, Bernier explained. "We're sure that in America torture is carried out under the strictest of guidelines and the health of the prisoner is always the torturer's first consideration."

The document was mistakenly provided to the human rights group, Amnesty International, as part of a court case it is bringing against the Canadian government over the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan. "Mistaken is right," Bernier said. "The last thing we need is for the Americans to know what we really think of them." At that point an aide entered and informed the foreign minister that he had a call from Dick Cheney's office.

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