Obama on Torture: “Change” Lite

Obama the lawyer would do well to recall his own words: “Nobody is above the law.”

Those skeptical of Barack Obama from the start now have cause to consider their skepticism vindicated. Oh, sure, the president made a big show of denouncing the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation methods as soon as he took office and he even went so far as to forbid them and order the Guantanamo prison camp closed. But the man in the White House is obviously hesitant to do a complete about face on his predecessor’s practices. He won’t consider bringing legal charges against the CIA torturers who committed the acts. On the contrary, he promised them government protection even before the whole chapter has been thoroughly investigated.

“It’s time for reflection, not retaliation,” President Obama argued. Wrong argument. This isn’t about revenge, it’s about investigating whether or not already existing laws prohibiting torture were broken, something that would also be an infraction of both national and international human rights. In a “nation of laws,” that should be a given and has nothing at all to do with “wasting our time and energy to prove past guilt.” The lawyer Obama needs to remember his own words and remember them often: “Nobody is above the law.” There are no free passes on this issue.

The four memos made public reveal in horrifying detail those methods used by the Bush administration in their “War on Terror” that ran the gamut from sleep deprivation to water boarding. Much of it was public knowledge, but that only makes it all the more important that the episode be carefully looked into. That’s something a president who talks so much about “moral authority” owes to us and to the victims who were tortured.

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