Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Third Time Disappointed

Today Obama released the torture memos. In announcing their release, President Obama stated, in part

My judgment on the content of these memos is a matter of record. In one of my very first acts as President, I prohibited the use of these interrogation techniques by the United States because they undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer. Enlisting our values in the protection of our people makes us stronger and more secure. A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals, and that is why these methods of interrogation are already a thing of the past.

But that is not what compelled the release of these legal documents today. While I believe strongly in transparency and accountability, I also believe that in a dangerous world, the United States must sometimes carry out intelligence operations and protect information that is classified for purposes of national security. I have already fought for that principle in court and will do so again in the future. However, after consulting with the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, and others, I believe that exceptional circumstances surround these memos and require their release....

This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views and emotions that these issues evoke. We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. 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.

Torture will never be a "thing of our past" until there are consequences. He says our 'national greatness is embedded the America's ability to right its course . . . ' but the precedence is there. Torture can be used.

The memos make me physically sick. The intent issue is especially specious. Why else would someone want to engage in these activities besides to inflict pain so that the person will be motivated to talk? The lawyers seem to say since the end game or OBJECT is not to inflict pain but instead to gain intelligence, then you're covered and it's not torture since you have to have intent to inflict pain.

To follow that logic -- I want to be rich. That's my intent. So it's not bank robbery if I get the money from the bank -- I don't intend to rob them. I just want to be rich.

It is also offensive to have lawyers making determinations as to the level of sever pain or suffering. It is disgusting!

I am extremely disappointed in Obama for not holding these disgusting individuals accountable for this offense to all citizens. They tortured in our name and I am ashamed.

UPDATED 4-17-09

As usual Andrew Sullivan is eloquent on this topic. I especially like his hopeful conclusion:
Mukasey and Hayden complain that the president has tied the hands of future presidents in this. Yes, he has. What Obama understands is that what is truly vital is that this dark and shameful period not become a workable precedent. It must be repudiated at the very heart of the American political system, and removed like the cancer it is.

I hope Andrew is right and Obama is able to allow us to repudiate it even if it's without anyone being hels responsible or consequences. I fear that you need the enforcement or another president in the future will allow this to occur again.



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