Saturday, April 18, 2009

Obama Looks Forward, Sees More Torture

The Obama mantra on crimes of the Bush administration since before he was elected has always been, “We're looking forwards, not backwards.” This is why people think Obama is arrogant, because he must think we are all idiots. Pointing out the logical absurdity of this statement is not enough when the intent is clear: Obama is arguing for immunity for his own continuation of the crimes he is trying to cover up.

In Obama's recent statement regarding Bush Administration torture memos, he said, “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.” After a few paragraphs waxing about how none of this matters anymore, as in, “I fixed it, you can all feel better and go back to sleep now,” he concludes by saying that, “The United States is a nation of laws. My Administration will always act in accordance with those laws, and with an unshakeable commitment to our ideals. ... That is why we have taken steps to ensure that the actions described within them never take place again.” So the Bush Administration does something that is not moral and makes us less safe, and we're supposed to believe that by releasing a few memos and waving the magic Obama wand, everything is just going to be ok? Not only is Obama derelict in his duties to support and defend the Constitution, he is criminally obstructing justice.

Of course there is something much more insidious here. Yes, we should be outraged that Obama is letting Bush and his cronies off. We should be outraged that there will be no justice for the innocent detainees at Guantanamo. We should be outraged, that on behalf of those doing the torturing, Obama has intervened with the defense that was rejected at Nuremberg so long ago, “We were just following orders.” But there is something far worse to be outraged about.

Please consider for just one second why Obama would not seek accountability and establish precedent that torture will not be tolerated. It is because he plans to continue the same basic policies! Obama is working to deny detainees at Bagram their right to habeas corpus. Obama is keeping open secretive prisons within the US called Communcation Management Units in Indiana and Illinois which inmates refer to as “little Guantanamos.” Obama has declared his intent to continue the practice of rendition of victims to other countries to be tortured. His largely symbolic closing of the facility at Guantanamo will do nothing to change our image around the world when our travesty of a justice system continues to produce torture victims. Perhaps Bush did not know better, but as a scholar of Constitutional Law, Obama must know that he is crossing numerous lines. Even the most deeply “immoral” and “dangerous” policies created by the Bush Administration have not changed with the election of a President at least as immoral and dangerous.