By Matthew Rothschild on November 10, 2010

If you’ve been a cynic all along, you win again.

I’m referring to the decision this week by the Justice Department not to go after a senior official of the CIA who ordered the destruction of dozens of videotapes of the torture of terrorism suspects.

Remember, this wasn’t a low-level operative of the CIA going off on some rogue mission.

This was the guy who, at the time, was head of the agency’s clandestine service. His name is Jose Rodriguez, and he ordered his staff to destroy the visual evidence, which included a taping of a detainee being waterboarded.

Rodriguez’s lawyer calls him “a hero and a patriot.” I call him a criminal and a creep.

And the Justice Department a bunch of cowards. Attorney General Eric Holder should be ashamed of himself.

At his confirmation hearings, he told Senator Patrick Leahy:

"If you look at the history of the use of that technique used by the Khmer Rouge, used in the inquisition, used by the Japanese and prosecuted by us as war crimes, we prosecuted our own soldiers in Vietnam, I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, waterboarding is torture.” He added: “No one is above the law," said Holder.

But that was then.

Leon Panetta, another “good Democrat,” who is the director of the CIA, should also be ashamed of himself. He says he’s “pleased with the decision.”

But how can you be pleased with the decision if you believe that we live in a democracy where the rule of law is applied equally?

Obviously, we don’t live in such a democracy.

You can torture someone and you can willfully destroy evidence, and you can get away with it, so long as you’re in the Executive Branch.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story " Rand Paul’s Lack of Class."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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