When we think about culpability for the events of Jan 6, who to blame, and how to move forward, there are parallels to be found in the torture era in the "war on terror." And there are so many mistakes from that era that we might usefully consider today.
Obviously there are significant differences in substance, and I am not seeking to draw some specific parallel between the actors themselves, only how we approach accountability at the top and at the bottom.
During the United States' torture era, for lack of a better phrase, we had, as here, elite and highly trained lawyers, public figures, and government officials condoning, legally justifying, and calling for--in that case ordering--certain actions.
The Office of Legal Counsel within the Justice Department issued memoranda, seeking to justify the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," in an effort to legally sanction the mistreatment of detainees and provide legal cover for those carrying it out.
The truth is that despite these elite lawyers' willingness to turn the law into a pretzel to justify this mistreatment, it was unlawful. It was torture. And it was a war crime.
Those actors on the front lines, government officials or soldiers in the CIA or military, who stayed within the lines of what OLC condoned were never held accountable for these war crimes. Nor were those elite lawyers who justified their actions.
Only a few of the soldiers who listened to the public figures' dehumanization of the other and carried it out to such an extreme level that even the OLC memos' justification of torture could not cover them were ever charged and held accountable.
And the torture debate itself became a partisan divide in this country. Calls for accountability met with calls to "turn the page." Bipartisan attempts at understanding what happened turned into nasty partisan fights.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued a report on the CIA's torture program and Republicans on the committee issued their own dissenting view.
The elite lawyers in OLC and the public officials who justified and called for torture went back to their lives. They are judges, tenured professors, respected elder statesmen.
If we want to move on from this moment and say "never again, never again will we permit armed insurrection to threaten the very tenets of our democratic process," then what is the right way to do so?
Is it merely enough to hold accountable those who -- believing the lies their senators and congressmen and President told them, that the election had been stolen -- violently stormed the Capitol in response?
Or is there a deeper rot that we need to confront? Mustn't we not stop and say no, we will not let truth become a partisan issue? That we will not allow the peaceful transition of power to become a matter of political debate?
The only way to do this that I can see is to hold people accountable for the lies they have told to their own people. There is no closing our eyes and moving on -- as we did as a nation after the torture era.
The result of that era is that there is no common belief about what happened or about the acceptability of using torture as a tactic again. This alone is unacceptable.
And we cannot let it become a norm that one political party may simply refuse to accept the legitimate results of an election that it lost, or that some politicians will use lies about the results of an election to spin up support or violence against their political opponents.
To be clear, there is a bottom-up aspect to this whole event as well. The Trumps and Hawleys and Cruzs in power were not alone in seeking to capitalize on lies about the stolen election. So too were those extremists fomenting hate for years online from their basements.
These extremists seeking to foment violence by capitalizing on the normalization of lies by politicians and public figures have an analog to the torture era too -- the sadists who took advantage of the country's wars and prejudices to commit atrocities at home and abroad.

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More from @becingber

11 Jan
Such an amazing list of all-stars here.
Ashley Deeks as Deputy Legal Advisor to the NSC is a truly perfect call. Ashley is a rare find — expertise plus grit, integrity, and moral courage. Such a fantastic pick.
I was going to say getting Ashley on the team was such a coup for the White House, but ... I feel like that expression has been tainted for a while.
Read 4 tweets
10 Jan
GOP officials warning that impeachment would be divisive really mean that it would divide *their party.* Because it in fact represents a significant opportunity for unity, for those who have the courage to reach across the aisle and speak the truth, together.
If public officials cannot tell their constituents the truth about what happened and what Trump has done, let’s be honest about what that means about what they are willing to rely upon to keep their power.
They either continue to have to court votes through reliance on lies about the most basic tenets of our democracy, or they start now to work to change how their party courts power.
Read 4 tweets
9 Jan
Wondering anew about the specific concerns that prompted all living former Secretaries of Defense to publish this piece, firmly stating the election was over, the time for lawfully contesting it done, and warning against military interference to undermine the results.
I have been thinking about this piece since it was published on Jan 3, wondering what prompted all living former Secdefs suddenly to make a public statement reminding DOD leadership of their duty to facilitate the peaceful transition of power.
I have gone back to read it several times, seeking clues. It is written to DOD leadership, which is concerning specifically because at least two of these leaders would have much much better information than the rest of us re: whether to be concerned.
Read 5 tweets
11 Nov 20
I agree with essentially everything in this @benjaminwittes piece.

A coup would be hard at this point to pull off for AB&C reasons. Still horrifying that they’re trying and scarier still that WX and Y are enabling him. And can I 100% guarantee we’ll never see Z? I cannot!
Sharing reports of people who are not enabling Trump — some of whom are critical hurdles to his attempt to stay in power — here:

First, the PA Senate Majority Leader @JakeCorman has this pinned tweet:
Read 24 tweets

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