Saturday, 24 January 2009

Turning the Page on Torture

By virtue of one of Obama's first executive orders, America has turned the page on torture, and restored much of the moral authority her previous leader had so recklessly discarded. Obama aptly harkened back to the wisdom of our Founding Fathers noting that they insisted we should "observe core standards of conduct not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard"

Not surprisingly, this order and the one closing the detention center at Guantanamo within a year are being hailed internationally and by human rights organizations here in the United States. As someone who worked vociferously to block the nomination of Alberto Gonzales four years ago, based on his authorship of rules loosening our compliance with the Geneva conventions when interrogating suspects, I am delighted and relieved that our new President wasted no time in righting these wrongs. I am especially happy with the unequivocal language of the order, and its application across all branches of government and the military.

It will be interesting to watch reaction in the coming days and weeks from those in the CIA and the military who are or were most impacted by such policies. The outgoing CIA chief, Michael Hayden, defends the now banned procedures, and the outgoing Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Michael McConnell, has repeatedly claimed that enhanced interrogation was critical in obtaining needed intelligence over the past six years. These men, however were Bush appointees. The story changes it seems when talking to career CIA agents who are more closely involved with interrogation.

Dan Froomkin in his most recentWashington Post column quotes an experienced interrogator of terrorists
"'It [Obama's order] is a significant step toward saving American lives,' said Air Force Reserve Maj. Matthew Alexander - the lead interrogator of terrorists who betrayed Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before his 2006 killing.

"'When I was in Iraq, the No. 1 reason foreign fighters said they were coming into the country to fight was Abu Ghraib,' said Alexander, author of 'How To Break A Terrorist.'"

Retired CIA officer, John Kiriakou, has an even more sweeping positive reaction to Obama's executive order:
Kiriakou said that the reaction to Obama’s harmonization of interrogations policy would get “a very positive reaction” inside the CIA. “There are people at CIA who engaged in what were certified as enhanced [interrogation] techniques, but were never supportive of it,” he said. “This should make people very happy. No one wants to be in harm’s way [legally]. Despite what the Bush White House and Bush Justice Department said was legal, I think people at the CIA understood that this was not legal and [the techniques] were torture.”

Tyler Drumheller, a former chief of CIA operations in Europe during the Bush administration’s first term, agreed. “These people aren’t monsters,” Drumheller said. “They were doing what they were told, and what was the policy of the [Bush] administration.”

Though apologists for the "enhanced interrogation techniques" championed by the Bush Administration will fret aboutimagined lost intelligence resulting from limiting interrogation to humane techniques, they do not do justice to the success of many perfectly legal interrogations, or wish to acknowledge the real harm done to our national interest, our international reputation, or the interrogators themselves when limits are not uniformly enforced and understood. They scoff at a desire to "curry world favor", as if we are not harmed by failing to so, but instead are greatly helped when we lead by example, and generate global good will rather than hatred and animosity.

Human Rights First offers this contrast of reality vs. portrayal of interrogation on TV. Watchblog's own Stephen Daugherty competently debunked the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques in a December article.

The task force that Obama created did leave the door open for future creation of a separate set of guidelines for CIA interrogation of high risk detainees, so that high level terrorist operatives cannot use the Army Field Manual as a blueprint for preparing themselves for resisting interrogation. Obama did not equivocate, however, in asserting that no US operative, employee, or agent would engage in torture, humiliation, or degradation in their treatment of our prisoners.

With the stroke of a pen, the most grievous policy of our recent past has been reversed, and we have returned to the principles on which we were founded.


flounder said...

The effects of this decision are yet to be determined. We know that the (so called) torture yielded information that prevented another terrorist attack and I'm sure that Obama realizes the huge gamble that he's taking. We right wingers are fighting the decision because we don't want innocent Americans to be killed because of this political posturing. I am very patient, I'm also optimistic, I think that my brothers and sisters who protect this nation are up to the challenge of winning with their hands tied behind their backs.
I only wish that the upcoming terrorist attempt would only affect those who supported the guy that opened the door for those who will hurt us.

For more right wing perspective go to FREEDOMFRONT.BLOGSPOT.COM

Anonymous said...

seeing is believing...

adisjoi said...

Sad to see you go. Anyway. Torture has gone on since the beginning of time. We can't stop using it because they enemy will think we are weak.
Two Voices | Two Guys

Steven said...

I am tired of all the Obama bashing being generated from the right wing of this country. We are at the point where even the Burak Obama supporters are questioning his competence and the direction in which he is driving America. Why is our president more popular in Europe and Asia than he is in the U.S.? Because the GOP media and politicians, who act like spoiled brats, kick and scream louder than majority. They have no platform other than to disagree with Obama, to avoid being marginalized. These blowhards including Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin know that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, even though so much of what they holler about has no merit.
My question is…Where are all the people that were apart of the greatest political and social victory in the history of our country? One year ago African Americans were basically vindicated and released from 300 years of oppression and segregation by the conservative shackles put upon them. This was not only a victory for them but for all Americans of color or those with a social conscious. Our American brothers and sisters that were all for change, that come from India, Africa, China, Japan, South America, Central America and on and on, this was a victory and redemption for all of you. This was the moment in time when all of these citizens were given the opportunity to be a legitimate piece of the American fabric, to take what has always been rightfully yours, and take action to help advance our country back into the global leader that we had once been. Not from a military standpoint but from a social, economic and humanitarian standpoint.
When I look at what is going on through the media, in communities, social networking, to see what is going on with the Change that we all wanted, supported and won, I see much more effort and discussion spent on figuring out why Oprah is canceling her show or if Lebron is going to NY or Miami.
I realize times are tough and so many of us are worried about jobs, medical insurance and losing our homes, but what is happening is that the imperial warlords that want their bombs and power back are taking advantage of the diversion to our problems, to kick our guy out of office.
Remember what got us here. Stop eating that bag of Cheetos in front of the TV, and make something happen. “Ask not what our county can do for you…”. YOUR country is working for you, now help our president achieve the things we all gathered around and supported, and let’s build this country into what we always dreamed it could be, the reason we all came here or live here in the first place.
If you don’t, you will have wasted a monumental opportunity that will probably not come back to you in your lifetime.

Steve Smith

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オテモヤン said...


scott huminski said...

Obama's Sotomayor - Supremely Ignorant and a Supreme Criminal

Online book details the ignorance and outright criminal behavior of Barak Obama's First appointment to the Supreme Court. An appointee that will impact Americans for decades.

Details at:

Especially chapters 9, 11 and 12 although the entire book details evidence presented to Sotomayor of massive corruption and crime in Howard Dean's Vermont that she chose to endorse. Her behavior is criminal and violates the ethical rules governing the conduct of both judges and attorneys.

Sotomayor should be impeached.

house painter phoenix said...

Still hoping for peace and for the war to end.

scott huminski said...

Американский рок-музыкант Облицовочные тюрьме по политическим исторических песен и музыкальных клипов.

Скотт X и Конституцию Commandos сталкиваются тюрьмы и возможные покушения на свою оппозицию американскогополицейского государства.

Свобода музыкальных клипов наступление на правительство США, по крайней,

Правительство Соединенных Штатов стала неистовой Споследней записи рок-группы, или бой на пребываниебесплатно

Конституция команды запросить поддержку от международных организаций в их борьбе против американской террористической государственной полиции. ПравительствоСоединенных Штатов находит политической речью в музыке, как наступление, как террор и взрывы самодельных взрывных устройств. Речь критикует правительство в настоящее время является преступлением в Соединенных Штатах.

الموسيقار الاميركي روك مواجهة السجن لأغاني تاريخية وسياسية وأشرطة الفيديو والموسيقى.

سكوت X والمغاوير الدستور يواجهون السجن والاغتيال المحتملة لمعارضتهم للدولة على السياسة الاميركية.

وأشرطة الفيديو والموسيقى حرية هجومية لحكومة الولايات المتحدة وصلت،

أصبحت حكومة الولايات المتحدة غاضبة من أحدث ما تم تسجيله من لموسيقى الروك، أو القتالفي البقاء الحرة

الأوامر دستور طلب الدعم من المنظمات الدولية في نضالهم ضد الدولة البوليسية الإرهابيةالأمريكية. حكومة الولايات المتحدة ترى أن الخطاب السياسي في الموسيقى كما خليع التفجيرات الإرهابية والعبوات الناسفة. خطاب حاسم من الحكومة الآن جريمة في الولايات المتحدة.

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