Thursday, April 30, 2009

Do the Clothes Have an Emperor?

Perhaps (please let it be so) the President is being very circumspect lest he prejudice any possible torture prosecutions by preconvicting in the court of public opinion, but he sure does sound like a gutless weenie when he addresses the issue. He might be better advised to do something...Presidential, like, "Because some are calling for prosecutions and I don't wish to prejudice such proceedings, I feel I must limit what I say on these matters...." But no, instead he bloviates about it with such things as:

What I've said -- and I will repeat -- is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture. I don't think that's just my opinion; that's the opinion of many who've examined the topic. And that's why I put an end to these practices.

I agree, water boarding is torture and "waterboarding violates our ideals and our values." But that second locution makes it sound like a matter of bad form (as does the term "short cut" which Obama twice used for it), like wearing a miniskirt to church, or improving he lie of your tee shot, or saying "Bullshit," on network TV. Of course it doesn't just violate our ideals and values; it violates our laws. Even Ron Reagan's crooked-ass "Justice" Department prosecuted waterboarding as a violent crime. Is Holder not up to the standards of Ed Meese?

And then of course there's this, from the Barack Obombast:

I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do, not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.

First of, this seems to concede (albeit in a tellingly roundabout, convoluted manner) that some valuable information was gained throught torture -- which notion I doubt absolutely, and which notion has been directly contradicted by many people in position to know. Second, it wallows into sentimental bullshit, which misses the moral point in a way that seems part of Obama's own Exceptionalism. He seems to think, with Bush, that Americans are just good. "We don't torture." No matter about the pictures, and the blood and the deaths and the reams of testimony and the appalling paper trail. Torture just isn't "consistent with who we are." Well, sorry Mr. President, but a hell of a lot of us are just fine with torture, because they think it works, or because they're bigots and don't care if it works -- they just like the idea of getting medieval on someone. But more importantly, if we don't prosecute those who did it, then we do do it. Then we are precisely the people who do it.


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