Thursday, April 9, 2009
In several posts I've made my views known about torture; how it's damaged our country, and how it's been shown to have produced no useful information (there are many more posts than those links). As more information comes out -- most specifically, the report of the International Committee of the Red Cross is now available in full -- my opinion has only solidified.
So I share concerns of many liberals regarding the reluctance of the Obama administration to release the relevant documents, nor to consider prosecution of those who dreamed it all up. This article is a good summary. It includes this paragraph:
"...Sen. Dick Durbin was forced to tearfully apologize on the Senate floor for accurately comparing our treatment of detainees at Guantanamo to the techniques used in Soviet gulags and by Gestapo interrogation squads, but those who perpetrated these war crimes have apologized for nothing, remain welcome in decent company, and are still shielded by our Government from all accountability."
It's ironic, isn't it, that as our politicians have become so polarized, they are, in effect, protecting themselves. Basting in hyper-partisanship and hyperbole, our elected officials are actually playing softball with themselves. Ever since the impeachment of Bill Clinton over oral sex, any action taken by Congress actually to investigate serious and damaging crimes by our government becomes nearly impossible, because it will be seen as payback. So we can become international war criminals, and no one has the guts to act. (Speaking of guts, there's now some attention being paid to my fellow physicians, those who aided and abetted the torture.)
I wish I knew the reasons behind Obama's reluctance. My guess it has to do with the urgency of those things on the front burner: he doesn't want to risk cooperation from the rare Republican when he might need it. Likewise, as he's trying to rebuild connections with our allies, and to make a new path toward our enemies, it might be that he considers this the wrong time to open the sores. And yet, in the long run, I'd say that fully debriding the wound is the only way to convince the world how seriously we take it. Assuming we do.
How strange that -- Obama aside -- practically the only politicians and citizens calling for airing this out are Democrats. Why should it be such a partisan matter? By all definitions and by conclusion of the international body specifically and legally designated to identify and investigate torture, the US has committed war crimes. Isn't there a single Republican leader who finds that problematic? And, were it a Democratic administration that had done it, would they still be silent? For a microsecond? In fact, there are some who see the Republicans as so frightened over the release of the torture memos and related material that they are threatening the President over it. One can only wonder what they're so worried about.