Holding “history’s actors” to account (one day)

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Ever ask yourself: how does this administration think it can get away with so obviously authorizing the abuse of war on terror detainees and then denying responsibility? Well, complete disregard for the press and distraction seem to work fairly well. Recall what reporter Ron Suskin was told back in 2002 by a White House aid:

We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

Thing is, if we study close enough, and keep a good paper trail, some of “history’s actors” just might end up in jail. In that spirit, I direct you to Emily Bazelon, Phillip Carter, and Dahlia Lithwick’s “Interactive Primer on American Interrogation,” a compendium of documents that charts the evolution of detainee abuse. When the system finally crashes, following this trail back to its origins just might lead us back to some of the morals and values that we left behind when we began the war on terror.


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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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