President Obama this past week admitted that a Senate subcommittee’s report was coming out and he announced it by saying, “we tortured some folks”… and then continued on that we “shouldn’t get too sanctimonious” because “they were tough times and people thought we were going to be attacked again”.
Really?! Are you kidding me???!!! I like the President’s manner, but “torture” is not something you can say with a folksy charm. It’s not like “we took some folks fishing”. This is torture we’re talking about! This is the worst of humanity and we were culpable for it. This is what the Nurenberg trials were held for. This is why we have the Geneva Conventions. This is a big deal!
In that whole “winning hearts and minds” thing, this will have serious and severe consequences as the antithesis of that. This is the kind of thing we need to understand — when the next bunch of terrorists comes about, it will be because people have seen pictures of, or heard stories of, Americans torturing their people. It will be because the child of someone we tortured is reasonably angry about what happened to their parent. If we had pictures of Americans being tortured, wouldn’t we be on the first plane over there (where ever “there” was) with bombs and guns and tanks? So now when they come here looking to do the same, we can’t be surprised. It’s not because they’re monsters. It’s because we were, in response to some of them.
I’m not saying I don’t understand the impulse when an attack has happened or we’re afraid another one might. I do. But that’s why we have rules. As difficult as it is, we always have choices. We need to figure out why this happened. We need to apologize to those we tortured, and we need to do something different next time.
And we’re not going to do anything about it? Really??? I get that it’s politically a bad idea for one President and party to blame previous leaders, especially when trying to take the high road against partisanship. When will it end? I get that. I really do.
Here’s my problem, though: When pictures of torture from Abu Ghraib happened, there were court martials. Soldiers, who supposedly “went rogue” were punished, and there was talk back then that there were people higher up the chain of command who either gave orders or suggestions and then looked the other way. I supposed that they were soldiers trying to please their bosses. They were proving that they were doing their job. I could be wrong about that. What I’m not wrong about, though, is that these soldiers were punished while other people (CIA? NSA? We still don’t know) weren’t. It’s another example of the law applying to the people doing the work, while leaders who order it done have no consequences. The rich and/or powerful are different. Why?
Last I looked, the law was the law was the law. Justice was for all. Is that not true? Why not?
This is the most basic of all moral questions for a people. Mr. Obama, regardless of what else he does in office, has lost any ability to say he’s a moral leader at this point.