Posted by: shannynmoore | May 19, 2009

We Can’t Handle The Lie!

I sat in the sun and ate fresh halibut with a friend of mine last night.

He’s German. He told me about watching the horrifying filmstrips and movies about the Holocaust in school as a child. Decades later, Germany is committed to acknowledging the crimes of the past, and determined not to repeat them. He said he was sickened…ashamed by the actions of men, but strengthened by the fact that the Nuremberg Trials held accountable, and eventually executed the war criminals. Because of this ultimate public accountability, Germany was separated from the Nazis who had ruled them.

War crimes. If a picture tells a thousand words, the pictures now being held back by Obama, scream volumes. Their testimony demands the light of day much like the men in our containment. The argument of “inflaming the terrorists” is out of touch at best. They already know. To deny justice while exporting “democracy” has fueled the flames of hatred and painted our hypocrisy like graffiti across the Constitution. The opposite of truth is cover-up.

We must face ourselves with proof. This is not Tupperware in the back of the fridge you throw out without looking inside…this is who we are.

A military friend of mine disagreed with me. He pressed me, “What do you want?”

“The truth,” I said.

My friend asked, “What would you do with the truth?” As he spoke, Jack Nicholson snarled in my head, “You can’t handle the truth!”

I answered, “I can’t handle the lie.”

“What if you could waterboard out the cure for AIDS? What if you could waterboard out the solution to your precious Arctic Ice dilemma?”

I thought about it for a second, it almost seemed like a trade worth making, almost reasonable…and I realized how this happened. The shiny, baited hook of fear caught in the throat of so many Americans begging for safety at any price-the same Americans who now defend torture. It’s too late to spit the hook.

“No. It’s a crime.” I said.

The Nuremberg trials proved not only the guilt of those tried; they cemented the civility and rule of law of the international community. Robert Jackson did not allow us to be defined by the evil nature of our enemies; thereby bringing forward “The Greatest Generation.”

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East prosecuted Japanese war criminals. The Class A war crime was described as “A Crime against Peace.” According to Japanese records, 5,700 Japanese individuals were indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Of this number, 984 were condemned to death.

In both Tribunals, those convicted were hung; stripped of the military custom of firing squad. In their final walk to the gallows they knew they’d been graced with justice; something they had denied millions.

Under our flag Americans have died to protect our ideals. Our flag was ripped apart during the Civil War; the mending made us stronger. What our flag symbolizes, is best said by Bruce Springsteen, “You know that flag flyin’ over the courthouse; Means certain things are set in stone. Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t.” The Bush administration did the unthinkable; they took our flag in vain. The traded it for torture, war, and lies.

So, now to answer the question of “What would you do with the truth?”

We must acknowledge the Rule of Law over partisan hackery. Put down the Kool-Aid, regardless of whether it’s Red or Blue. That this matter has become political is astounding to me. Those on the left that are willing to move along, or are trading the economy for justice, or fear those on the right calling war crimes trials “witch hunts”, are enabling partisanship where none should exist. There is a simple solution; present evidence and try the perpetrators. “Just following orders” was no defense in Nuremberg or Tokyo. “Just following orders” and waterboarding a man 183 times in a month is certainly indefensible today. Everyone involved from those that executed the enhanced interrogation orders, to Bush lawyers David Addington, John Yoo, and Jay Bybee, must be held accountable.

If found guilty, let them be sentenced.. On that day, the “R” or the “D” after someone’s name won’t matter; the “CWC”, convicted war criminal, will.

Then, like Germany and Japan, we will rebuild our identity beyond the crimes of regime holders.

For a solemn day, we drape our national monuments in black.

We wear black on our sleeves.

We resolve we will not let it happen again.

We show the world we have truly changed.



  1. You are exactly right. I’m glad to know there are some Alaskans who aren’t eagerly awaiting The Rapture. May your tribe increase.

  2. I read this on the Huffington post first, and the thing that disturbs me is that the last line, in my opinion the most powerful of the bunch were deleted. I’m shocked at the editing, and oh, so very proud to stand in your shadow, Shannyn. We need more like you standing up for what’s right!

  3. Very well said Shannyn…very well said.

  4. I agree with every word of your eloquent and powerful post. Truth is the great healer, even if for a day we must lower our flags to acknowledge our lapse of honor.

  5. “I thought about it for a second, it almost seemed like a trade worth making, almost reasonable…and I realized how this happened. The shiny, baited hook of fear caught in the throat of so many Americans begging for safety at any price-the same Americans who now defend torture.” Best metaphor I’ve read in a long time.

  6. Shannyn,

    Your post is one of the more eloquent I have seen on the subject.

    Thank you.

  7. Fear does not have to lead to cowardice. But, for so many it does, and the US government was pushing that fear as hard as it could.

  8. This absolutely has to be done.

    However, I do not think the U. S. can do it for ourselves. Aside from corruption on many levels, no matter the outcome, there will be charges of not going far enough or going too far.

    If this is going to happen, it needs to be done at The Hague and handled by an international tribunal. And I sincerely doubt Cheney or Bush are going to board a plane to the Netherlands willingly.

  9. The war was over during the Nuremberg Trials. I support Obama’s decision to refrain from inflaming anti American sentiment in the middle east while our troops are still there. I would like to say the appropriate time to prosecute would be after the war, but war has been raging throughout the middle east since the beginning of the written word. Do we really think we’re ever going to bring our troops home?

  10. You have a very measured and intelligent response but I am afraid you may not have all the information. Let me preface by saying that the Germany of today is NOT the same country that committed the atrocities. However, that being said, please look into “Operation Paperclip” or “Paperklip”. It will chill your bones. After the war, the U.S. took its first pick of Nazi officers to come WORK in the United States. Then they sent the *rest of them* to the Nuremburg trials.

    Some Nazis have been in the CIA for years and years and never had to stand trial.

    There are some interesting interviews with CIA men of the early 50’s, complaining that they had to work with Nazi’s. Look into it.

  11. Thanks Shannon. This is a great editorial. Powerful. And thanks for quoting a wonderful line by B. Springsteen.

  12. Great Post.

    The only reason to hold back these disgusting photos would be to enter them as evidence in a necessary war crimes trial.

  13. Well said – we need more folks saying it. And we need folks in Washington DC to hear it – unfortunately, I’m not optimistic.

    In 60 years we’ve gone from the greatest generation to the most afraid. When I was a kid about 8-10 years old (in the early 70s) we would get on our bikes (in the mountains at the edge of Denver) and ride for miles and miles – climb rocks & mountains – be gone all day, have adventures and excitement. We’d come home exhausted yet confident, then go do it again the next day.

    Now, my son is that age, and I’m barely comfortable letting him go out of sight of the house. I know that it’s stifling and bad for his independence, imagination and sense of self. I know that the risk is small – but how can I let my kid be the one that appears on the nightly news as the next victim?

    We’ve become a culture of fear and the Republican Party (at least the Rove branch) has recognized that and has exploited it to the point that we actually have to talk about “if” we should investigate torture! That’s the real obscenity. It used to be that we could hold our heads up and say that we’re the “good guys” – we’re not perfect but we’re trying …

    Now, not so much.

  14. What an excellent article!

  15. Shannyn, I’ve been trying to deal with this same subject but now that I’ve read your take, if I had a hat I would take it off and make a bow. Thank you for getting at this from an angle I would never have come up with.

    I think what bothers me the most is that if we do not investigate, prosecute and sanction those who, IN OUR NAME, tortured others… we basically give a carte blanche to anyone in the future who is willing to separate themselves from their consciences or their morals … and do it all over again.

    I am not willing for such atrocities to continue in my name. Period. Without accountability for this darkest period in our history, we are silently assenting to have it happen again, with the same impunity.

    No, I say no, a million times, NO.

  16. Shannyn, I think that this is one of the best pieces you have written. This a subject surrounded with much controversy, pro and con..

    When I joined the Army in 1963 I swore an oath to “defend the Constitution from within and without”. I was never asked to rescind or take back my oath.

    I have had numerous discussion with my sister-in-law whose husband (my brother) was also in the Army. She thinks that the war crimes will never come to trial or even serious investigation. I feel that IT MUST. There is the question of torture, illegal or at least despised since the Spanish inquisition. The was of aggression US IRAQ. To me these are the two most important at this time.

    I was proud to swear the oath in 1963, I do not think I could do so at this time as the Bush admin was not, and now the Obama admin. does not seem to be following the rule of law. I feel that we have lost our moral compass and if a course correction is not made soon, we will never get back on course.

    I do not want to continue to be ashamed of what my country is doing (in my name).

  17. Amazing Shannyn. Eloquent, and thoughtful.

    I believe that our country is clamoring for a War Crimes trial. I believe that right thinking people can “take the truth about what was done in our name by rogue Administrative officials”.

    I recognize that my country, that I love, has tortured people and I am ashamed that it happened. We are better than that.

    If we do not take the appropriate steps and clean up our own filth, the World Court will do it for us. For our own pride, we should take the appropriate steps and bring those individuals who broken our treaties to a World Court at the Hague.

    We have violated the Geneva Convention and the International War Crimes Statues. If we are as morally straight as we proclaim, we must do the right thing.

    I believe that if we drag this out and let these individuals get away with war crimes, we lose all credibility and our moral and ethical standings in the eyes of the world.

    Thank you for your honesty and your eloquence. I also believe that this topic should be No. 1 on all the blogs, not just the lefties. The more it is discussed openly, the more difficult it will be for the current Administration to kick the can down the road.

    I want Cheney tried before he escapes his fate by dying.

  18. copied and made into placemats for discussion and thought at a patriots’ Memorial Day Sunday Lunch on Belvedere Island in S.F Bay, May 24, 2009. You Miss Shannyn are making waves of clarity. Thanx

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