Saturday, April 18, 2009

Torture, prosecution, lethargy, and the American public

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Obama's statements about torture:
Bearing in mind yesterday's revelations, this really sticks out for me:

Mr. Obama condemned what he called a "dark and painful chapter in our history" and said that the interrogation techniques would never be used again. But he also repeated his opposition to a lengthy inquiry into the program, saying that "nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."
I think this is wrong. More than that I think it's dismissive, silly and bordering on insult to any literate human being. In point of fact "spending our time and energy laying blame for the past" is exactly what the justice system does. By Obama's logic murderers would go free in the streets. The real question is not whether you're going to lay blame for the past, but who your going to lay it on, and for which past. What Obama is really saying in this statement is he won't hold this particular group accountable, for this particular past.
And he also says:
All of that said, what really disturbs me about all of this, is that most Americans still don't think torture is a big deal. I think in the case of Bush, particularly after 2004, we--the American people--got the government we deserved. I think Bush said a lot about who we were post-9/11. I'd like to see some exploration into how to make this torture argument directly to the people. Maybe we can't. Maybe people really don't care that much. But if we're wondering why Obama isn't willing to press forward, I think it's fair to also wonder why the people aren't pressing him to press forward.
This American does care. I think Obama's rhetoric about moving forward and not dwelling on the past is bad. I want those who dragged this country's moral soul through the gutter to be investigated, and if evidence warrants, prosecuted. The same goes for those who enabled and covered up for those who set this policy. And that includes the Obama administration if they aid and abet the abhorrent practices recently revealed and confirmed.

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