Archive for the 'torture' Category

Obama Invokes State Secrets Privilege to Cover Up Torture

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

This is horribly, horribly depressing.

If you asked me to pick three people whose views on the issue of torture and the rule of law I’ve come to respect, they would probably be Kevin Drum, Hilzoy, and yes, despite his habit of going all prosecutorial and one-sided on us, Glenn Greenwald. And if you told me that all three of them were appalled, on the same day, at the same action by the new Obama administration with regard to a matter of torture and the rule of law, I’d have to say that was pretty much game over for me in terms of my willingness to defend the Obama administration.

So: Elapsed time until losing my support: 2 weeks, 6 days.

Sigh. The torture presidency continues, apparently. Or, to extend him a whopping benefit of the doubt that I’m no longer at all sure he deserves, Obama has decided that he will stop torturing (which is a good thing). But he will also use the most questionable sorts of expansive imperial presidency power as pioneered by Bush to protect the perpetrators of torture from facing justice. No doubt Obama has determined that he would suffer politically from the perception that he was going after the torturers who preceded him in office. It would be a losing proposition for him, politically. He would be portrayed as weak on terror, a turncoat willing to burn his own people and prevent them from fighting the bad guys. So he takes the coward’s way out, presumably arguing to himself that he thereby preserves his ability to do good with his political capital, but at the same time allowing himself to become complicit with the worst sort of inhumanity.

Until now I was proud of Obama. Proud of what he had achieved, of what he stood for.

Now I’m ashamed.

What’s Been Going on at Guantanamo

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I really can’t feel anything but a sick sense of shame at what Bush and Cheney (and Rumsfeld and Gonzalez and Addington and Yoo, among other enablers) did at places like Guantanamo and Bagram. As more details come out I expect that feeling to strengthen. The latest update from hilzoy (There are no files, part 2) was the latest thing to bring that home to me.

Hilzoy on Obama’s Affirmative Obligation re: Torture

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

What Hilzoy said: Some facts for Obama to consider.

Torture Commission?

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

From Michael Isikoff, writing in Newsweek: Obama to take on torture?

Despite the hopes of many human-rights advocates, the new Obama Justice Department is not likely to launch major new criminal probes of harsh interrogations and other alleged abuses by the Bush administration. But one idea that has currency among some top Obama advisers is setting up a 9/11-style commission that would investigate counterterrorism policies and make public as many details as possible. “At a minimum, the American people have to be able to see and judge what happened,” said one senior adviser, who asked not to be identified talking about policy matters. The commission would be empowered to order the U.S. intelligence agencies to open their files for review and question senior officials who approved “waterboarding” and other controversial practices.

I don’t have any illusions that a commission is a guarantee that the truth will come out. But depending on who is on it, it might achieve something in that area. And in terms of issues that transcend the current “can’t we all just get along?” spirit, this one pretty much tops my list.

So yeah, bring on the torture commission.

“The president has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants.”

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

That quote from Cheney staff director David Addington, as reported in a new book detailing administration terrorism policies. The WaPo also says:

The classified CIA report described by Mayer was prepared in the summer of 2002 by a senior CIA analyst who was invited to the prison camp in Cuba to help Defense Department officials grapple with a major problem: They were gleaning very little useful information from the roughly 600 detainees in custody at the time. After a study involving dozens of detainees, the analyst came up with an answer: A large fraction of them “had no connection with terrorism whatsoever,” Mayer writes, citing officials familiar with the report. Many were essentially bystanders who had been swept up in dragnets or turned over to the U.S. military by bounty hunters.

And that’s one of the conservative estimates.

Guantanamo is a carefully crafted loophole in the constitutional limits on presidential power, and a carefully crafted exercise in managing public perception. It is a national dungeon, where the President’s determination of guilt is the only rule. The law upholds it because it must, the congress accepts it because it’s too politically easy to ignore it, and the public accepts it because it seems just far enough away to be less important than the numbers on the gas station marquee.

Greenwald on Mayer on Torture

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

So, is Glenn Greenwald a shrill, Leftist hysteric?