Boys Crying Wolf

by digby

As little children we were all told a lovely little parable about boys and wolves to illustrate the problem of losing your credibility. (Apparently Barbara Bush was too busy golfing to share that one with her oldest son.) Once you are a proven liar, you often find that people don't believe you even when you tell the truth.

Similarly, when a government has made a fetish out of torture, which everyone knows is unreliable and forces false confessions, people tend to be just a tad skeptical when the government releases transcripts of a terrorist mastermind's confessed plots replete with lurid details about beheadings and plans to assassinate the pope. (It's especially difficult to swallow when they release the information in the middle of an exploding white house scandal, when they've had custody of this person for years.)

It may all be true. But because this government has insisted that "sending a message" of toughness will make suicide bombers turn tail and give up --- and seems to truly believe that a false confession is a good as a real one, we have no way of knowing. This guy is by all accounts a very bad man, I don't doubt it. But the details of his confessions are meaningless because of this administration's short sighted and immoral policies.

Imagine how powerful these confessions could have been in a legitimate war crimes trial if the Bush administration had followed civilized practices and maintained a shred of moral authority and credibility. Too bad we'll never know.