During his first Congressional speech, Obama loudly proclaimed that “the United States does not torture”. A few days later, on March 2, he released several secret memos from the Bush administration that detailed the destruction of about 100 tapes of the interrogation of terrorist suspects, as well as proposed suggestions of new powers of “search and seizure”, as well as wiretapping without a warrant.
Before I begin, I’d like to state that this article isn’t about whether or not the suspects were tortured. I believe they were.
This isn’t about whether or not the CIA destroyed evidence. I believe they did.
This especially isn’t about what actions the interrogators may have done that would constitute as torture. Depending on who you ask, torture can be anything from physical abuse, to sleep deprivation, to being forced to look at pictures of women in bikinis holding college diplomas (and if that doesn’t make an Islamic extremist scream in agony, I don’t know what will.).
This is about figuring out not only the motivation behind Obama’s decision to release these papers to the general public, but why would he also proclaim that the United States does not torture. What was the purpose behind it?
Personally, I’m speculating that he’s doing this not only to score points with the American public in an effort to show off his new, “transparent” government, but also to gain face with the Middle East by portraying Bush as the “bad guy” that he’s replacing as well. I can almost hear him saying, “See how open we are, as opposed to the last administration? We have no secrets here. We’re like an open book, we have nothing to hide. We want to be your friends now”. Too bad his transparency didn’t apply to the pork-laden, 1,588 page “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act”, but that’s another article.
I could also speculate that he may be pulling something akin to the old “wagging the dog” trick as well. What better way to divert attention from your own controversial policies (not to mention the nose-diving stock market), than to drag the villainous Bush back out into the spotlight again? Though Bush is no longer in office, his name still makes for good fodder. Nothing like a little reminder of just how bad we had it before, right?
This was a bad decision. There are some things that are best left to be resolved behind closed doors. Does Obama honestly believe that releasing these memos won’t be used by our enemies as more propaganda for their cause?
On top of that, by Obama proclaiming that the United States will no longer be a nation that tortures, what would current and future terrorist suspects have to fear from us? Couldn’t the administration simply have quietly changed this policy without spilling it out to the world? At the very least, we could have at least let our enemies *think* that we will still torture them. Sometimes the mere threat of it is enough to get a suspect to spill his guts (figuratively, of course). Some people are more afraid of the anticipation of torture than the actual act itself, especially if they don’t know how it will be carried out. We don’t even have that advantage anymore. Now a suspect can simply look at the interrogator, smirk, and say “What are you going to do? Torture me?”
We don’t need a “kindler, gentler” CIA. We need the CIA that everyone, especially our enemies, fears. People were afraid of the CIA, that’s what made them effective. Now they have nothing to fear.
We’ll be seeing fewer prisoners in the future. If you can’t get any information out of them, then there’s really no point in capturing them alive. At least, it’ll be cheaper. No need to feed or shelter a corpse. No need to pay for lawers to fight for their rights. Just a bullet, a shovel, and a plot of dirt.
Obama Releases Bush Anti-Terror Memos: Devlin Barret and Matt Apuzo, Mar 2, 2009
Officials Site Broad Power for President in Memos: Devlin Barret and Matt Apuzo, Mar 3, 2009
National Public Radio: Mar 3, 2009