Look Back in Anguish
Let’s start out by granting that
Nicolas Cage Barack Obama gave a commanding speech at the National Archives yesterday, expressing in welcome detail the national-security challenges he faces and the means he intends to address them.
And then let’s dwell on what he didn’t say.
Briefly: Barry, unlike Harry Reid, is not frightened by Carmina Burana. Rather than succumbing to fear-mongering on Guantanamo, he disposes of those political tactics decisively.
Which makes it even more disappointing that he implicitly endorses another nefarious Republican line: couching his disagreement with the Bush torture regime as a policy difference.
The Full Turley, as we’ve come to call it, is the position that the torture regime was a willful violation of international treaties and United States law. And not just any law — one that carries the death penalty in
enhanced extreme cases. This is literally a grave matter.
But watch how Barry sidesteps the subject, while professing to address it squarely:
- “our government made a series of hasty decisions”
- “those who argued for these tactics were on the wrong side of the debate, and the wrong side of history”
- “the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism”
- “brutal interrogation techniques”
- “I have no interest in spending our time re-litigating the policies of the last eight years.”
Decisions. Debate. Ad Hoc. Techniques. Policies. It’s as if Barry buys wholesale the bad-faith talking point about “criminalization of policy differences.” As opposed to what really happened: the deliberate criminalization of policy itself.
We’ll allow that he uses the word “torture” four times in some six thousand words. But not once does “illegal” appear.
And that’s what makes Barack Obama accessory to a crime: By refusing to pursue the crafting of torture doctrine as a prosecutable offense, or even merely saying torture is not only wrong but illegal, he’s legitimizing torture as a “policy” in the first place, albeit one he disagrees with. Torture’s not a card he chooses to play, but it remains a valid option.
Oh, but aren’t torture techniques a thing of the past? After all, says Barry, “I ended them once and for all.”
Well, no. You issued an executive order. Your successor can rescind that order. For that matter, so can you. As your flack said Thursday, “The only durable and lasting way to overturn policy is to do it by law.”
Oops, our bad. Robert Gibbs was responding to Ana Marie Cox about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. That’s different.
Not only that, the same man who decries being labeled as a Bushie for continuing some of the worst actions of his predecessor also deploys the Bad Apple canard:
“I recently opposed the release of certain photographs that were taken of detainees by U.S. personnel between 2002 and 2004. Individuals who violated standards of behavior in these photos have been investigated and held accountable.”
You mean Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Bybee, Yoo, Haynes, and their criminal conspirators have been brought to justice? Silly us. You mean that while the folks following orders will be prosecuted, the folks giving those orders will be held harmless.
Just like your predecessor.
Obama Delivers Address on National Security, Torture, and Gitmo (video) [MSNBC/TPM]
Obama’s Speech (text) [Political Wire]