who thought that Barack Obama, having said boo about the Bush Torture
Regime while campaigning for president in 2008, would denounce this
darkest day in modern American history after taking office was engaging
in fuzzy-wuzzy liberal thinking. For one thing, the new president
understood that denouncing, let alone going after the
Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld triumvirate for their crimes would scuttle any
chance he had of forging a bipartisan consensus for his ambitious
first-term agenda. But even this Obama supporter is deeply
disappointed at how unwilling the president has been to lay bare the
regime's excesses even if stopping short of even suggesting its
architects should be prosecuted.
and a half years after Obama promised a new beginning and banned torture in one of his first acts, any expectation that he would at least advocate a thorough
examination of the torture regime's worst excesses has been dashed.
Obama's endorsement, by his silence, of the CIA's continued obstruction
of the Senate Intelligence Committee's release of its
damning report on torture without redactions that would render it
meaningless, is nothing less than a legitimization of that agency's vile
practices. His defense of CIA Director John Brennan, who has led the
campaign to stymie release of the report while tacitly
approving the rogue agency's own spying on the Senate committee, makes
farcical the president's statements that he believes that the U.S. should hew
to international law, including the Geneva Conventions.
The latest roadblock to the never-ending series of obstructionist tactics slowing the report's release is a debate within the administration
about whether that presidential decree banning torture should extend to
so-called black sites outside the U.S. These were the gulags run by the CIA where
torture was practiced with the acquiescence of host governments like Poland,
one of too many countries that participated in a CIA extraordinary rendition program in which
terrorism suspects were interrogated at secret facilities beyond the
reach of American constitutional protections.
debate is taking on additional importance because the European Court of
Human Rights has ruled that Poland violated the rights of two terrorism
suspects by transferring them to a CIA-run black site in northeast
Poland, while the U.S. itself is to give testimony next month to the
United Nations Committee Against Torture regarding whether its
policies have been in violation of a UN treaty banning torture.
There is little question that the president sides with the black hats in
the debate. Bernadette Meehan, a National Security Council
spokeswoman, has said Obama's opposition to torture at home and overseas is clear but separate
from the legal
question of whether the UN treaty applies to American
behavior overseas. Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff Denis
McDonough and not the national security advisers one would think would
be most qualified, is said to be personally negotiating
how much of the Senate report will be redacted
As tests of president mettle go, this is a biggie.
a time when 12 fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates are urging Obama to
make "full disclosure to the American people of the extent and use of
torture" by the U.S., a time when he and other world leaders express
outrage at ISIS beheadings and other jihadist excesses (which apparently include . . . yes, waterboarding), nothing less
than a blanket declaration that the U.S. will not condone torture
anytime or anywhere, as well as release of the Senate report without
fatal redactions, leaves the most unpleasant impression that the CIA not
only will get its way, but Obama is endorsing by default a loophole in
the U.S. interpretation of international law that will justify it torturing
Photograph from asiantribune.com
I basically agree, but I have a niggling carp: To test a piece of metal for its strength, durability, etc., a metallurgical engineer needs a piece of metal. Similarly, I think, a "test of presidential mettle" presupposes some semblance of presidential mettle -- something that Obama has not yet demonstrated.
I would respectfully semi disagree. Going after Osama bin Laden, whereas Dubya bailed on the effort, showed mettle. Hanging tough with the Affordable Care Act showed mettle, as did speaking out against the federal ban on same-sex marriage.
Showing mettle consistently, however, has been something he indeed has not demonstrated.
Not blink. Just close his eyes and squeeze them shut. And put his hands over his ears. Hear no evil, see no evil.
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