The debates about torture continue to rumble on in the US media. Fox News Sunday had the likes of Bill Kristol on the case yesterday with rather familiar and wearisome arguments about how releasing the torture memos plays into the hands of the US' enemies. No Bill, torturing people plays into the hands of your enemies. Investigating what happened, who sanctioned it, what purpose it served, and prosecuting those guilty of breaking the law will mark a break with the past and would constitute a definitive statement that the US will not torture. That will improve your national security.
As Alberto Mora, a former Navy general counsel, has said, Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo constitute, “the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq.” Unfortunately, President Obama may half agree with Bill Kristol. Arguments about only looking forward not back are not convincing. The US can not look forward until it decisively breaks with the past. Discontinuing 'enhanced interrogation techniques' and publishing the memos is simply a halfway house.
But it's only the liberal base that agrees with that proposition right? Well, no actually. A poll was published by Gallup over the weekend which showed that 64 per cent of Americans either want an independent or criminal investigation. It would seem that ordinary Americans do not want to let this go and nor should their president. This issue is far from over.
My guess is that when photos of abuses in Afghanistan and Iraq are released on May 28th in response to a freedom of information request from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) new momentum will swing behind the case for an independent investigation- as a minimum. The photos will show that the practice of torture was far more widespread than previously thought. It could only be so with political sanction and toleration. It is not the Lynndie Englands that are the primary concern. It is the Dick Cheneys and Donald Rumsfelds and the former is still out and about causing as much damage to the Obama administration as humanly possible. It is like someone burgling your house and mocking you every time you step out of the door for your lax security. It has to stop. See Elizabeth Cheney defend her father on torture below:
Moving on to torture of a more metaphorical kind, see if you can get all the way through this atrocious interview with President Ahmadinejad which aired on ABC yesterday. Talk about defensive, evasive, and utterly cowardly: