Saturday, August 9, 2014

I Guess I'm Being Sanctimonious

About a week ago, President Obama made some remarks about the torture program of the US during the previous administration. I've had some days to mull this topic over, then today I read a post, here, by William Rivers Pitt, that absolutely articulated my thoughts so much better than I ever could.

So here's an excerpt.  You should really go and read the whole thing.


"Even before I came into office," said the President on Friday, "I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values."
"I understand why it happened," the President continued. "I think it's important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the twin towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this.".
By citing the fear that came after the attacks of 9/11 - a moment when defending the Constitution and holding to that oath was very, very hard - as a free pass for those who instituted and practiced this program of torture, the president betrayed his oath, just as those who practiced torture betrayed theirs. No one was prosecuted for these crimes, and the "investigations" conducted by this administration into that torture were so piddly and toothless as to be utterly meaningless.
Beyond that oath is the Geneva Convention Against Torture, of which the United States is a signatory, and is therefore bound to its edicts. Article Two, Section One of the Convention reads, "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture." In other words, no excuses, period, end of file. "Afraid" is not an excuse.
The Constitution was violated, the Geneva Convention was violated, and still everyone walked, and on Friday, the president said that was fine, because we were "afraid." The moral failure in this is so vast as to be bottomless...but Mr. Obama wasn't quite finished twisting the knife.
"And, you know," he continued, "it's important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots, but having said all that, we did some things that were wrong." 

There's more; the whole post is worth  reading if you want to be disgusted.  Unless, of course, I'm being sanctimonious.


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