Monday, April 20, 2009

A few thoughts on torture

It's been a busy few days on the torture front (see Daphne Eviatar for some great coverage).

The best way I can see all the news is that Obama did leave the door open to some kind of accountability or truth mechanism (but not prosecution) for those who did the torturing themselves and, more importantly, the architects of the torture policy. It's not much, but it's something.

Sometimes I can't imagine that, deep down, he doesn't "get it" on this issue, especially with his law background. Yet he hasn't given us any hints for a long time that he does. And the best we can hope for at this point -- that he'll do something on this once he's achieved some of his other goals -- is made more difficult by many of his own words, words that he doesn't need to say. For example:
"But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America's ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future."

That's just saying rather stupid stuff that he could have left out while making the same policy choices he did. It's bonus right-wing rhetoric, especially that last sentence.

One way I'd like to see this whole issue framed in the coming days and months is one of politicization of the Obama Justice Department.

The question to be asked of Obama and Holder is, "under this precedent -- of not investigating/prosecuting crimes -- what other felony-level crimes does this administration believe should not be prosecuted?"


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