Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The torture regime endures

If Jeb Bush's flirtation with torture upsets you, blame Barack Obama. The Prez is a very careful guy; he picks his fights. Sometimes that serves him and the rest of us well: Obamacare and the Iran nuke development moratorium are big wins.

But very obviously, from his first days in office, Obama discovered that restoring the rule of law in relation to a national security agenda would cost him big time. If the CIA's backing, filling, stalling and obstructing of Congressional oversight means anything, it means that the agency knew full well that John Yoo's phony-baloney torture memos wouldn't protect its agents. Torture is a crime under both U.S. and international law. So they've fought disclosure every step of the way. So have all the other spook agencies, even larger institutions than the CIA, operating out of the War (Defense) Department and other secret hideaways.

These agencies not only want to conceal what they did (do? -- how can we know if they are allowed to hide behind "security"?). They want to keep us focused on whether torture "worked." That's a non-question. Torture is a crime and crimes should be prosecuted. Period.

But Obama ducked that fight. He needed the spooks to try to prevent a terror attack that could undermine his tenure. So he caved. If Jeb were elected President, all he'd have to do is give a nod to the spooks -- Barack Obama's administration has made the laws in this area meaningless.

And having ducked the fight, Guantanamo remains still open. Obama's Justice Department recently has gone to court to prevent compassionate release of an inmate on hunger strike who is down to 75 pounds and has been cleared for over half a decade. The National Religious Coalition against Torture has a letter writing campaign. If we don't like being a torture state, we have to keep protesting these things.

Yes, Erudite Partner has just written a book about these issues. She expects a spring release.


Rain Trueax said...

It won't change under Hillary either. So would it under Sanders? They say he cannot win, and there are many liberals who are coming down on him for not supporting this or that important issue in their minds. If he doesn't win though, who would change any of this?

Books will record the atrocity of our times for the future but not sure there's much hope they will do anything for it in our times not with the ease of manipulating mass minds and taking out of contention the only ones who might change it? It's enough to make a person wonder who profits from the torture regime because almost always somebody does or think they will and it's why something so pointless otherwise happens :(

janinsanfran said...

Hi Rain: New York Times reporter James Risen's book Pay Any Price makes the argument that the whole "war on terror" has been a boondoogle for a series of profiteers inside and outside government. I tend to believe him because I actually believe that if we faced a more real threat, we could achieve competence as a society to deal with it. But since the threat is mostly over-hyped nonsense, there's vast room for corruption and skimming.

Rain Trueax said...

Yes, and I blame American arrogance (exceptionalism nonsense is part of why that happens) and purposeful ignorance. It's a depressing time and reading comments in various newspaper sites makes it even more so. I keep hoping for a new zeitgeist and maybe we will yet see it for a ton of reasons why we have to hope so. In the meantime, tell your partner good luck with the new book. You never know when something might strike the right chord and turn this all around. Yeah, an eternal optimist ;)

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