The Torturous Debate

By Al Giordano

I am a free speech absolutist.

Every government document ought to be available to the public.

Every single one.

That includes the 29 photographs of Bush-era torture that the White House, last month, was going to release but now, this month, says it won’t.

And I don’t buy the President’s stated excuse, that releasing these particular photos would “further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger."

That said, I don’t really care that deeply about it, except as an opportunity to address the many colleagues for whom this seems to be “the most important issue,” and to simultaneously address the related issue over whether those Bush administration officials and soldiers responsible for the acts of torture will or will not be prosecuted.

Truth is, there is as much intellectual dishonesty coming from leading voices that urge the immediate release of those photos as there is in the president’s less than forthright excuse for not releasing them. And among others, for whom emotion trumps strategy, there isn’t dishonesty, per se, but, rather, a rigid and anally retentive view of what “The Law” is (or should be) that clouds their judgment not just on this issue but on a whole string of related matters.

I also feel fairly confident that those photos will see the light of day during Obama’s first term, whether by court order or by whistleblower leak. And I think the President knows that very well, too, and is not bothered by it. For the President, the matter is tactical: whether the photos, once out, are perceived as having been released by his decision, or by somebody else’s hand, and tactically, the latter is so much more desirable in the context of other moves he is making to regain civilian control over an Armed Forces brass with rogue tendencies.

That’s a very different motive than the simpleton accusation that the President seeks to “cover up for Bush crimes.” This is the very same President, after all, that recently released 250,000 classified documents that tell the story behind those photos in far greater detail than 29 images ever could. If that's a "cover up," then give me more, please. So those that accuse that the motive is “cover-up” can bite me. I have zero respect for them and their effort to be make-believe prosecutors in the tradition of Roy Cohn. It’s a childish impulse and I choose, once again, to disassociate myself from anyone that plays that petulant game. If they really believe that Obama wants to protect Bush, they're idiots and I'll leave them at the children's table with cookies and milk.

The President is, as is oft said, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, a military that has gone rogue on many prior presidents and I don’t envy his job of having to get that institution back under civilian control.

The suggestion that the way to make sure torture doesn’t happen in the future is to prosecute it is not reality based. Did the prosecution of so many Nixon era presidential appointees prevent future ones from violating the Constitution? Not at all. Did the 1989 indictment on sixteen felony counts of Colonel Oliver North for crimes in the Iran-Contra drugs-for-arms scandal end the complicity of US agencies and agents in the cocaine trade? Nine years of investigative reporting by this newspaper have demonstrated otherwise.

North was convicted on three of those counts, but all that his prosecution served to accomplish was to make him a martyr-hero of the right. This known narco-trafficker has, ever since he was elevated by the prosecution against him, been pulling down six-figure lecture fees on the university and speaker circuits. The prosecution against him was the best thing to ever happen to his career. I know how that works.

And did you know what lawyers got North’s convictions overturned? They were from the very same American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that today sues to get the 29 torture photos released (a litigation, again, that I support, because it can accomplish getting the photos released by court order, and thus not impede the President's ability to accomplish bigger things).

And if and when the US government does prosecute a Bush-era official for his role in authorizing or executing torture, it will not surprise me at all if the ACLU similarly shifts gears and defends that person in court. Prosecutions intended to please political factions or public opinion almost always involve some shortcuts around the law of the kind that the ACLU is very good at opposing.

“The Law” is an ass. And I say that as one who generally likes how the US court system works, compared to those in other lands, when it works. In at least thirty courtroom appearances of my own – as criminal defendant, as civil defendant and as civil plaintiff – I’ve had great luck with US law, thanks to that document known as the US Constitution and the case law built upon it over more than two centuries. I have more courtroom experience as a pro se lawyer (a layman who represents himself) than tens - maybe hundreds - of thousands of licensed attorneys. It gives me a certain perspective on “The Law,” of what is good about it, but also of its severe limits.

In 2003, at the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, we held a debate and discussion that is relevant to the current debate over torture-related matters titled “What Is Democracy?” Two very articulate advocates offered very different visions. One offered the traditional liberal view: that democracy is something that comes from a document (for example, the Constitution) and is codified by law, and that if society follows those laws, a kind of utopia ensues. Another said we shouldn’t kid ourselves, that democracy is a lot messier than that: that democracy requires a lot of pushing and shoving and what is ethical and right in one circumstance isn’t necessarily so in another. Social movements and governments alike engage in a little duplicity now and then, and it's not always "wrong" in every single case. Sometimes it's wrong not to bend the rules a bit. This is certainly true, she noted, of the great social movements that have improved every democracy that they’ve touched. My students and I were far more persuaded by the latter definition of democracy because we had already been out there accompanying such social movements across the hemisphere and had lived the rough and tumble realities that the speaker described.

Which brings me back to the current gathering of the Poutrage Club over the two related issues: The release of 29 photos and that of whether or not to prosecute those responsible for authorizing or implementing the tortures that shamed the United States.

What I see and hear in the words of those who are upset and calling for such prosecutions are that they are mainly adherents to that first definition of “democracy”: essentially, a Fundamentalist view of “The Law.” And it frightens me, somewhat, to think what society would be like if they ever got their way (which they won’t, because human beings are not automatons, so I’m not really that concerned). There are times when “The Law” is dressed up in liberal language in a way that masquerades the bloodlust behind witch hunts and impulses to scapegoat individuals for crimes or taboos that, in a democracy, we’re all responsible for having enabled.

The same tendencies that have always placed me squarely against McCarthyism and Red Scares put me on the opposite side of some liberal and progressive colleagues today when they demand the prosecution of Bush, or of Cheney, or of some of their underlings. Such blind faith in “The Law” is very much related to how liberal and progressive America simply gave up after the Supreme Court ratified the electoral fraud of 2000 that put those birds in power. Since they can't accept their own complicity-through-inaction in the events that brought Bush and Cheney to power, they lash out today looking for scapegoats to burn at the stake.

I frankly don’t buy the suggestion that prosecuting Bush, Cheney or others over torture or anything else is going to have any impact at all toward preventing similar crimes in the future. Nor do I think that if the President releases, by his own hand, those 29 photos, that the shock of the images will at all deter torture at all in the future. That's like saying that photos of child porn would somehow deter child abuse, when the opposite is often the case. (Again, I repeat, I’ll bet a hundred dollars with any other blogger that wishes to part with his money and wager against my claim that those photos will be coming out during Obama’s first term, but by another hand’s work.)

In the end, this is not a moral debate, but one of strategy and tactics. It comes down to whether one believes, as some clearly do, that releasing photos or prosecuting the former administration over torture, will impede torture and official law breaking in the future - or not. We have very recent examples in US history – Watergate and Iran-Contra – that demonstrate crystal-clearly that “The Law,” by itself, is pretty damn impotent as a deterrent force (an impotence that is on display in courtrooms every day, as millions of citizens break all kinds of laws even as they're aware that others were prosecuted and punished severely for doing the same).

In the end, preventing torture is a political struggle and also a power struggle, so much more than a matter of "The Law." It’s about changing society and its presumptions, and changing institutions, like the military and police agencies, where the culture is so prone to that kind of abuse. (Anybody that thinks a few hundred prisoners at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo were the only people recently tortured by officials in the USA is being willfully ignorant of the daily occurrences in police stations and prisons across the fruited plain, and I thus find their poutrage very selective.)

President Obama has a gargantuan task when it comes to the Armed Forces, and also intelligence agencies like the CIA, and police agencies (Homeland Security, FBI, DEA, IRS, etcetera) that have always, since their inceptions, acted above the law and insubordinately. The placing of a vehemently anti-torture civilian, Leon Panetta, at the helm of the CIA, and the executive orders to ban present and future tortures, are two examples of the very positive ways he is addressing such festering sores after other presidents, including Democrat Bill Clinton, turned a blind eye to them. (Again, anybody that believes that US officials didn't engage in torture prior to George W. Bush's presidency is also woefully ignorant.)

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius calls Obama’s shift on the release of the torture photos a “Sister Souljah moment,” intended to “upset some liberal supporters” and, in doing so, to have “polished his credentials as a centrist.” Some liberals and progressives clearly buy into that spin and feel personally offended at the thought that they could be mere props in the President’s maneuver. But I don’t observe that that’s what has happened at all. People who talk about "Sister Souljah moments" are merely fighting the last Democratic presidency all over again. They're stuck in a previous century.

To deduce why the President shifted in just a few weeks, we have to look at what has changed over the past month since the administration first said it would release the photos.

I can find only one major factor that has changed that has any relation at all to this dust-up, and it was unearthed this week by Michael Crowley at The New Republic, in a scoop titled, Obama Breaks With Gates, Cancels Nuke Program.”

The ban on new nuclear weapons is the most historic act, to date, of the Obama presidency, and the national media, punditry and blogospheres have barely touched it. The US government now, for the first time since the Manhattan Project of the 1940s, has a policy of producing no new nuclear arms. To accomplish that, the President overruled his own Defense Secretary and many of the top military brass. And when you make a move like that, as a civilian head of state, you have to take very deliberate steps to make sure that the rank-and-file military soldiers and the mid-level brass will be inoculated from manipulation toward “going rogue” or, as has happened in too many nations, conjuring a military coup d’etat by assassination or other means.

It hasn’t been by happenstance that the young President has personally gone to Langley to address and praise employees of the CIA, and to the FBI building to do the same there, and, of course, he's gone multiple times to the troops of the Armed Forces, always bearing gifts of better pay and health care and benefits and such. It is what must be done to remain strong enough in position as a real commander in chief to be able to buck the military brass on matters as sweeping and important as ending the production of nuclear weapons by the United States.

The flap over the release of 29 photos of torture has bought the President the cover he needed to issue this historic anti-nuclear order, one that will bolster and give credibility to his nuclear non-proliferation negotiations with other countries of the world.

Those that argue that the President should not have shifted positions on the photos – or that similarly argue that he should unleash prosecutors upon members of the previous administration – are essentially asking him to forfeit his ability to do bigger and more important things: like ending the production of nuclear weapons and stopping actual acts of torture from happening under his watch.

Basically, they’re so whipped up in their anal and fundamentalist view of “The Law,” infused by their own bloodlust for revenge and scapegoating that poses as “justice,” with an added dose of pornographic interest in the snuff photographs, that they are blinded to the bigger chess game going on right now between the White House on one end, and the Pentagon and law enforcement agencies on the other.

Me? I’d trade having no new nuclear weapons for a delay in seeing 29 photos or even for the pleasure of watching Dick Cheney in handcuffs being escorted into court. I don’t really want to look at either spectacle. Either would be torture for me. And, regarding the photos, although I still believe that those who want to see them should be able to see them, I think that most folks are closer to my distaste for it than to the obsessive fascination by the legal fundamentalists and their illusions about what “The Law” can accomplish.

So, yes, the excuse about protecting US troops from harm is an act of political pandering to those very troops and their brass. But I'm not at all ashamed to say that, toward the gargantuan goals of changing the culture of the Armed Forces, I'm not partiuclarly bothered by a little duplicity or a less than honest public excuse for actions that a more accurate public explanation would only serve to undermine.

The real task at hand is to evolve American society – and with it, military and law enforcement culture - to change in ways that “The Law” will never be able to touch. That’s what I observe that the President is, step by step, doing. And the legal fundamentalists who fail to consider that larger context are going to continue to be upset, again and again, until they open their eyes to the bigger chess game going on between the new President and the institutions of defense and law enforcement, the only steps that can ever accomplish a permanent ban on torture and more.

 

Comments

Thanks, Al

The Obama administration made it clear last month that they don't believe they can stop these photos from being released.  To attempt to do so anyway buys them brownie points, and at the end of the day they get released anyway.

It's actually kind of funny how the media and blogosphere are rushing to chase the shiny object the Obama administration threw yesterday.

Another head fake?

Al, to your point that "The real task at hand is to evolve American society – and with it, military and law enforcement culture - to change in ways that 'The Law' will never be able to touch.": Do you get the feeling that Obama is also studiously avoiding direct response to the Dick Cheney & Daughter Torture Justification Media Freakshow, all the better to give them the longest possible rope with which to hang themselves in the court of public opinion?

Bravo!

Reality check, courtesy of Al!  I did not know about the ban on new nukes. Now I do.  

Thanks.

 

 

Thank you, Al

After reading your take I've walked away with a lot more to chew on than I've been getting elsewhere. I have to second Lorie-- I also missed the across-the-board "no new nukes" policy in the "coverage" on the defense budget, which mostly focused on specific special projects taking the ax before morphing into the usual "The right is calling Obama weak- But he INCREASED defense spending" dichotomy.

Torture

Wow.  Best I have read on this issue, anywhere.  Thank you for your well thought out, reasoned, and intelligent post.  It is why I started coming here.. and why I continue to do so.

Living in Obama's head

I do not.  I don't think anyone else, does either.  For Al to state:

I also feel fairly confident that those photos will see the light of day during Obama’s first term, whether by court order or by whistleblower leak. And I think the President knows that very well, too, and is not bothered by it. . . .

as if he does live in that head is, to me, absurd.

After donating to and working for and supporting Obama, the only thing I'm really happy about these days is at least we do not have another Clinton administration.  Though I am far from convinced we don't have an administration of the same type, and the fact Obama was briefly a community organizer will have meant nothing.

I'm with Lorie, Sarah, and I expect many others

Again, Al is a teacher. Thank you.  I too missed the 'no new nukes.'

All the blather online about the other diversions, calls to mind the words I think coined by Calvin Trillin - "Sabbath Gasbags" for the Sunday  am TV talkers.  I hope he comes up with an equally expressive term for the EGO wrapped bloggers, sheep, lemmings, trying to get attention.

Living in My Head

Mary in Seattle - I think it is very reasonable to watch a person's behavior over time and develop a very keen sense of what bothers him or her and what does not. For me to say that "I think the President knows" something that any reasonably intelligent person that understands politics and media also knows, and that I think he "is not bothered by it," is not an act of mind-reading.

Well, it was you in the last thread that asked for my take on the torture photos, and now you have it. As I said in the comments section there, I didn't expect you to be pleased by it. You are perfectly welcome to prefer Glenn Greenwald's take to my own. But I'll let you in on a little secret: It was him I had in mind when describing, above, those that have an anally-retentive, fundamentalist and fairy tale view of "The Law." He understands the law very well. What he fails to accomplish is to place it in the larger context of how human beings and society really are: We are not born to obey laws. Laws are merely a tool we use. Let's never forget which ought to be the boss in that relationship.

Spot on Al

Worth repeating:

"There are times when “The Law” is dressed up in liberal language in a way that masquerades the bloodlust behind witch hunts and impulses to scapegoat individuals for crimes or taboos that, in a democracy, we’re all responsible for having enabled."

Scapegoating is as old as time, as is blaming and shaming those who disagree with "my" opinion (otherwise known as self-righteousness).

President Obama appears to have a higher vision that dips toward the core of what we all have in common: basic needs of security and community. Change takes time. Poutrage is counter productive.

Again, thanks for the breath of sanity.

 

Tactics and strategy

I agree with Lucidamente: this is a losing argument for the Cheneyite dead enders (who now seem to consist only of Cheney and his daughter). There are plenty of people who know what kind of acts those photos contain, and the longer the story runs the worse it gets for the enablers (and the more nuggets of information surface about the mechanisms of how it was allowed to happen and the personnel involved), so why lance the boil by releasing the pictures, especially if that can be used as ammunition against you to try to paint you as "unpatriotic"?

I wonder what those legal fundamentalists would have said during the fight to abolish slavery, or to establish women's suffrage, when laws were broken repeatedly in order to achieve what was right and just.

I hate the argument "because it's against the law"; it's a thought killing argument and one that implies that we live in the best of all possible worlds. The law is a tool that can and should be used in certain circumstances, it is not an ethical benchmark.

 

Art that has to be in a gallery to be art isn't art.

I thought I was the only one who felt this

This post expresses a lot of things I have been thinking and feeling but wasn't sure how to put into words. I wondered if I was the only one who thought this way. Some bloggers seem to be completely obsessed with the torture issue to the exclusion of all else.

The memos that were released before contain information about the legal justifications that were used for torture, and which Obama will need to dismantle. But the photos do not add anything to what we already knew so I can see why they might be treated differently.

A few words from Judge Learned Hand

From "The Spirit of Liberty Speech" (1944):

“What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes.

“Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it…

Very disappointing

"I'm not partiuclarly bothered by a little duplicity or a less than honest public excuse for actions that a more accurate public explanation would only serve to undermine."

Bush's supporters were not particularly bothered by his "little duplicity" in saying "We do not torture" either. The end justifying the means, and all that. They also ascribed to him similarly uncanny powers of "managing the long game", "chess-playing", and what not.

But it's completely different here, isn't it.

Even so, I'll be happy to earn your contempt by my "anal" insistence that the law [please excuse me if I don't ape your sarcastic capitalization] is more important than your Wise Leader and his wonderful secret plans. Though I would be grateful if you could refrain from attributing my conviction to an unconfessed taste for snuff pornography.

photos schmotos

The US tortures because many Americans support it. They are eaten up inside daily by fear and anxiety and inflicting violence on others makes them feel safe even at the cost of their own humanity.

Great insights Al. This is good stuff:

In the end, preventing torture is a political struggle and also a power struggle, so much more than a matter of "The Law." It’s about changing society and its presumptions, and changing institutions, like the military and police agencies, where the culture is so prone to that kind of abuse. (Anybody that thinks a few hundred prisoners at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo were the only people recently tortured by officials in the USA is being willfully ignorant of the daily occurrences in police stations and prisons across the fruited plain, and I thus find their poutrage very selective.)

I was amazed at the tabloid-like fixation of Americans on the photos during the initial Abu Ghraib scandal. "Pornographic interest" may be too mild of a term to describe it.

At the time I read a fair amount of foreign press and some in Europe had as their top story news about prisoners that died under our abuse and neglect (at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere). The nearly exclusive emphasis on the photos was more of an American thing.

It's as if people are conditioned now to get an adrenaline fix. They need a new story every week to get fired up about. Actually picking an issue and organizing to produce change doesn't seem to get much consideration (except for Field Hands of course).

Effective, historic change like the nuclear program development just isn't exciting enough.

I'm starting to wonder

whether it's possible for you to accept someone disagreeing with Obama.  I agree with a lot of what you're saying, Al, and I think so far Obama's doing a good job, and yet it seems that you're writing the same article over and over.  You got angry when someone accused you of taking a "you're either with us or against us" mentality, but you accuse everyone who criticizes him of engaging in "poutrage" and being at "the children's table."  Everyone who offers criticism is accused of simply being too dumb to understand the real game.  I guess what I'm asking is: Is there a situation where someone could offer a liberal criticism of President Obama and you would agree with it, or at least admit the person had a valid point?

Thank you!!

I have been waiting to hear your take on all of this - and I wasn't disappointed!! Thanks for the link to the nukes issue - powerful stuff Obama is taking on.

This morning there was a great diary at dkos that posed another theory about Obama's decision on the photos. Here's a link:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/5/14/731263/-Morning-Feature:-Preside...

The crux of the argument is that Obama is sending these things to the courts to get rulings that will ultimately challenge the unitary executive privileges claimed by the Bush administration. If he merely overturns them with his own executive orders, that continues the privilege and will simply be overturned by future presidents.

Cover for non-proliferation negotiations? Re Iran?

Al, You say the flap over releasing the photos provide cover for non-proliferation negotiations with other countries.

Could this be used as leverage to place a wedge between Iran and Russia/China? i.e., Isolating Russia/China politically from Iran by non-proliferation deals..

One more thing

I also want to add that as a recovering fundamentalist christian...I SOOOOO get what you're saying about the role of law in a democracy. And I've been a bit dumbfounded at how many of my progressive friends are clinging to this type of fundamentalism.

Sigh...

A couple of responses

Joe Beese - It is completely different. Who exercises power does matter. And George W. Bush is a perfect example of how it doesn't matter what "The Law" says, in many, many cases of policy, as much as the one interpreting it. There is nothing more banal than saying "because person A tells a fib and person B told a big fat whopper of a lie that therefore Mr. B is the same as Mr. A."

My suggestion of "a little duplicity" refers to the statement by the President that he's doing for the safety of the troops - a premise that I stated I don't buy - instead of telling the whole truth (which would be something like "Hey, American people, I'm trying to rein in your rogue military and intelligence apparatus. Part of how I do that is remain so popular with the rank-and-file soldiers and mid-level brass that the calcified bureaucracy above them will never be able to plot a coup or do to me what they did to JFK." In that case, total honesty would be irresponsible and counterproductive. But that's the reality he's dealing with.

Now, onto another commenter...

Jurgan - You wonder "whether it's possible for (me) to accept someone disagreeing with Obama."

Yet if you look at the pages of this newspaper, one that I direct, you'll see story after story by great reporters like Bill Conroy, Kristin Bricker, and others that harshly disagree with Obama on Plan Mexico, on the drug war, and on other matters of our beat. I use much of the donations people make to support us to pay journalists to criticize Obama policies. And we've done far more of real investigative criticism (as opposed to just shouting epithets David Sirota style) - 255 original reports in the first quarter of this year! - than the people I smack with well-earned descriptions of "Poutrage Club" and "Children's Table." Those terms stick and get repeated by many others because of their accuracy. If the shoe fits...

You can take issue with my disagreement, but it's really lame to say "Al criticizes some of the ways that others have criticized the new administration, therefore Al 'can't accept someone disagreeing with Obama.'" Well, the evidence is all over these pages that such a claim is bull crap: we just happen to support our criticisms, when we make them, with well-founded and cited facts.

The issue for me isn't between pro or con "criticism." It's between "smart" and "dumb" criticism.

Will he, won't he

Hasn't this protracted will he, won't he just publicized the existence of 29 damning photos to all of the interest groups? (ACLU, international courts, public opinion, etc)

Doesn't this make action even more likely? Or was it inevitable anyway?

"instead of telling the

"instead of tellin g the whole truth (which would be something like "Hey, American people, I'm trying to rein in your rogue military and intelligence apparatus. Part of how I do that is remain so popular with the rank-and-file soldiers and mid-level brass that the calcified bureaucracy above them will never be able to plot a coup or do to me what they did to JFK."

If that's true then you're burying the lead (if I have my journalistic jargon correct).  The lead is not that some people like Glenn Greenwald misunderstand Obama's true intentions--the lead is that the vast majority of Americans are unaware that we live in something pretty close to a military dictatorship, one where rogue elements in the security apparatus have to be appeased or we face a military takeover.   You're saying that the Constitution doesn't work and civilians don't have authority over the military, not just in the sense that any bureaucracy can sabotage the plans of the people on top, but in the sense that if Obama was totally honest, he might be overthrown or killed and the veil would be ripped away and we'd be in a military dictatorship without any little illusions about it.

Now supposing all that were true, then it's a hell of a lot more important to convince people of that than it is to get into a tizzy over the poutrage club, as you call them.    Of course people don't agree with you about Obama--most of them have no idea that (if you're right) Obama is walking on eggshells trying to prevent the overthrow of the republic.

If you detect a note of disbelief in what I'm saying, you're right, but I don't doubt that there are people in the government who'd do anything they could to sabotage real reform.  But it also seems possible that Obama isn't really as much on your side as you think.  He could favor some good ideas and still be essentially another Bill Clinton. Eliminating nukes--sure, why not?  Smart people who are part of the power elite might understand that having thousands of nuclear weapons lying around pose a long term danger to everyone, not just the peons who get killed in conventional wars.   And no little country has any sort of deterrent against American bullying without nukes, so a really smart and utterly amoral person in the US government might well favor a world where they were eliminated.

As for releasing documents, Obama can play both sides of the fence--he can further discredit his political foes in the Republican Party while trying to prevent trials, which if they go through might set a bad precedent for anyone in the Oval Office.  

Frankly, I have no idea what Obama is up to.   If he's the saintly Machiavelli you imagine him to be, he should have taken the reactions of people like Glenn Greenwald into account.  He might even welcome them.  

"You can take issue with my

"You can take issue with my disagreement, but it's really lame to say "Al criticizes some of the ways that others have criticized the new administration, therefore Al 'can't accept someone disagreeing with Obama.'" Well, the evidence is all over these pages that such a claim is bull crap: we just happen to support our criticisms, when we make them, with well-founded and cited facts."

I didn't say that- I asked, and it wasn't rhetorical.  I wasn't trying to call you out or anything- I was honestly asking the question.  I guess the answer to my question is that I should read the rest of Narco News and not just The Field (I do sometimes read other articles on the site, but not often).  And, now that you mention it, I do remember some of your criticisms, like regarding Obama's non-responses to the questionnaire on drug policy.  All right, thanks for the quick reply.

@ Don Johnson

Don Johnson - Your rephrasing of my statement doesn't reflect what I said, but, rather, the spin you put on it. Regardless, I find the whole debate that some corners of the left like to engage in over whether Obama is "good" or "bad" to be a meaningless sideshow, and that's not the debate I've entered here.

And yes, anybody would have known in advance what other poker players at the table would have done in response to the announcement about the photos: that Greenwald and other usual suspects would condemn it (and that I would not agree with them). It ain't rocket science to know people's tendencies on this stuff after four months of watching reactions to the moves being made by the new administration.

Even through your sarcasm, you seem to agree that there are certain structural and institutional resistances to change on many fronts, and that it's not so easy as a President simply ordering it and, poof!, it gets done! (Nor would anyone with democratic instincts want it to be that way.) But I'm not one to take the bait and "lead" with conspiracy theories, even when actual conspiracies do exist. That would also be counterproductive, which was my point in my first reply.

Al, the 2nd Circuit Court ruled

 

Al your insights and knowledge rightfully challenge the conventional concensus. Thank You for that. It helps keep me open-minded in how I see things.

 

 

However, there are a couple of issues that perhaps you can address.

 

The 2nd Circuit Court ruled in December 2008 those photos had to be released. The DoJ decided based onthat ruling it was hopeless to appeal. So on 23 April the administration, the pentagon and the court entered into an agreement to release those photos.



In April, a pentagon spokesman commented while we are 'still concerned releasing photos would make the military mission more difficult, that consideration was less pressing than 2 or 3 years ago given that Iraq is more stable today.'

 

Therefore, how do we reconcile the fact Obama is ignoring the court's ruling and the agreement between his administration, the pentagon and the court to release the photos?

 

 

The harm the Bush/Cheney policies is immeasurable. Iam not naieve enough to believe the US  never committed war crimes nor used torture (i.e. My Lai), but it was never sanctioned before.

 

Iam one who believes, as a matter of law, we are bound by federal, state, international laws and treaties: 113C of the US Criminal Code, the War Crimes Act, the Geneva Conventions, UN Convention Against Torture, Article VI of US Constitution, UCMJ to investigate and prosecute. To do nothing would do more harm with serious repercussions.

 

Although I do agree Obama should stay clear of getting entangled in any way with investigations and, if merited, prosecutions thereof, likewise he should not obstruct them either.

 

 

I agree with Obama's First Premise and there is more

  • Obama is going to Egypt next month and Russia in the summer. If these pictures are released, they will only serve to further inflame militants against any gesture that the United States makes. These pictures would be used as propaganda by people who could really care less about Iraqis except as a rallying point and recruitment tool. That's the last thing he needs to deal with-the potential overthrow or mass demonstrations against more moderate states, or in the case of Russia, inflamed Chechens.
  • There may be matters of personal privacy and personal litigation involved. We do not know if the families of the tortured or deceased all know about these things. It would be better if they don't know to be informed by official channels.
  • It might be better if Obama distances himself from all this and let normal legal processes take place. If there are convictions and even incarceration involved, it's only going to happen in an environment where it is clear that there is no underlying political motives involved. If I were Obama, I would let international courts take the lead on all of this-preferable the ICC or some other neutral body who isn't involved in US politics.

Very Interesting Take on the Situation...

I honestly have to digest this post more to fully put this piece into the puzzle of everything that's been going on.  But I will say that this is a very interesting take on the situation.

I agree that the pictures WILL come out, and that Pres. Obama KNOWS they will come out.  He's proven himself by far too intelligent to not realize this fact.  You're logic throughout seems rather sound - albiet I will say that this theory is a bit of a stretch, on the surface.  Again...I'm gonna let it absorb.  There's a LOT of background noise about this issue, and I want new information to fully form in my head before I make a judgement.

I'm curious: if this move was about assuring the military and intelligence community...how pissed off is Pres. Obama right now at Republicans, Nancy Pelosi, and Bob Graham!  After a very public reversal on a powerful netroots issue (that I'm sure he knew he'd take heat for), the day after we get Nancy Pelosi and Graham calling the CIA a bunch of liars, and Republicans going full bore into that mess (after acting like the torture debate was radioactive for so long).

Whether the CIA lied or not...Commander-in-Chief Obama has got to be pretty annoyed at the timing.

Oh, did I mention...

that there's a "Make a Donation" button in the upper right of this page?  No?  Okay then, there's a fund drive happening right now and there's a "Make a Donation" button in the upper right of this page.

The best commentary and reporting anywhere is right here.  Hope that's clear.

"'m trying to rein in your

"'m trying to rein in your rogue military and intelligence apparatus. Part of how I do that is remain so popular with the rank-and-file soldiers and mid-level brass that the calcified bureaucracy above them will never be able to plot a coup or do to me what they did to JFK."

 

That sounds conspiratorial to me.   Anyway, if you only meant that people in the military and the CIA will do their best to undermine Obama in the usual nasty bureaucratic ways if he gets too far out in front on human rights issues, then yes, I agree that is likely to be their response.    They'll put out stories to the press (perhaps anonymously or maybe through retired people) that say that Obama's policies are going to lead to another 9/11 or have led to a total collapse in morale, and if there are Democrats who can be embarrassed by ties to torture, past or present (as there almost certainly are), then they can be threatened in a not-so-subtle way, as seems to be happening to Pelosi.  (I haven't been following the Pelosi story closely, but that's my impression.)

 

What Obama is thinking, I repeat, I have no idea.  But if he has good intentions and is fighting off the bureaucratic enemies (as is possible), I still think there's a legitimate role for people like Greenwald to complain about it.   

dealing with the military

I can find only one major factor that has changed that has any relation at all to this dust-up, and it was unearthed this week by Michael Crowley at The New Republic, in a scoop titled, “Obama Breaks With Gates, Cancels Nuke Program.” The ban on new nuclear weapons is the most historic act, to date, of the Obama presidency, and the national media, punditry and blogospheres have barely touched it. The US government now, for the first time since the Manhattan Project of the 1940s, has a policy of producing no new nuclear arms. To accomplish that, the President overruled his own Defense Secretary and many of the top military brass. And when you make a move like that, as a civilian head of state, you have to take very deliberate steps to make sure that the rank-and-file military soldiers and the mid-level brass will be inoculated from manipulation toward “going rogue” or, as has happened in too many nations, conjuring a military coup d’etat by assassination or other means.

I wonder if the sacking of Afghanistan commander General McKiernan is also a factor - it could be a warning to other generals that they need to get with the program.

Narco Newspaper

Nine years of investigative reporting by this newspaper...

I love your contribution to a new paradigm by co-opting the term newspaper.

10 Years After

There are hundreds of issues that are just as pressing as the torture photos and memos, many more so, in this nation right now.

You aren’t going to get them on torture memos and photos. It just ain’t going to happen – the national security canard assures that, which they played masterfully, and continue to do so.

So I think we waste our time, for the most part, getting caught in that trap. The time to have done something about it was when everyone – and ask yourself, where were folks like Greenwald in 2001 and 2002? — was content to fight the terrorists at any cost, or to build their personal careers.

Greenwald didn’t start his blog, Unclaimed Territory, until October 2005 — which he later abandoned for his mainstreamish Salon gig. Narco News has been slogging it out in this trench for the past nine or so years, right through the height of the Bush Administration’s power when the danger was palatable and largely unchecked, when all this crap started floating up in the toilet, and when, for the most part, even in the blogosphere, with few exceptions [the Daily Kos in 2002], there was no resistance. That came later, after the damage was done and it became clear backyards were being threatened.

So I think someone needs to start using that history as a yardstick against excess polemics and ego-driven chest pounding. Many of these folks are still getting blisters from their new cleats, and whining to excess about the discomfort and missing the whole point of the longest yard.

Like I said, we have hundreds of issues that need pressing far more than pressing for empty justice against truly despicable characters, and their devious acts, after the milk has already been spilled. Bush, Cheney, et. al. not only have some 25 to 30 percent of the population behind them come hell or high water – like it or not – but the money and access to some of the best attorneys in the country and arguably at least half of the Supreme Court in their pocket.

So if you want a list of those hundreds of issues, I’ll start with job security, health care and education. With those three, we will assure that someone among us, more than a few at any rate, will be enlightened enough, made of the right stuff, and have the immediate courage, to attack the clear and present dangers. The Johnnie-come-latelies to this struggle need to show some respect, and quit whining about what they failed to do themselves when it mattered.

 

 

Like a previous commenter I'm

going to take a bit of time and absorb all this, Al, but I do have a question.  All the fuss is really about 29 pictures?!  Why did I think it was hudreds?  29?  Really?!  Just knowing that puts things in a whole different light.

Twenty nine is what we've heard

But rarely are there so few extant in situations like this. Twenty nine does not mean there aren't more in private collections, or in contractor files, or still on hard disks somewhere. Not to mention the videos that may be floating out there. So far, whatever security or secrets laws there are have kept these from the eye of the general public. If Obama okays these without a judicial ruling, it could be seen as a green light to release the rest, and they will be released by the holders in order to profit-I think they are that evil-from the furor. And in the furor, they will be released en masse, adding to the outrage.

People also forget about that word "honor". The families and tribes will feel obligated to avenge their sufferers honor, which will kill soldiers who had nothing to do with such atrocities.

Indeed, I suspect a lot of the torturers were contractors="mercenaries" as others would call them. Such people would give the higher ups plausible deniability as they were not American citizens or in the military if they were Americans.  I wouldn't even be surprised if those higher ups allowed a few of them to "disappear" or worse to mollify an inflamed middle east, especially if some of them were likely to testify.

So justice might not be served well if these photos were prematurely released. I say prematurely-Obama isn't saying these photos are 86xed for all time beyond examination by historians and others. He certainly will make them available to prosecutors, plaintiff attorneys and investigators.

Political realities...

Al is absolutely right to identify Obama's relationship with the officer corps of the armed forces as critical here.  No conspiratorial thinking is needed to recognize that every elected democratic leader in history has required the respect and loyalty of the senior combat commanders of his military, especially if there are active military conflicts which he has to manage. Afghanistan may be in peril of slipping back into chaos or control by the Taliban, thanks to Bush's neglect of that conflict and the resources consumed by his war in Iraq.  That could lead to the reconstitution of a terrorist infrastructure in Afghanistan and vastly strengthen the Taliban position in Pakistan, where nuclear weapons are stored.  That would not only defeat Obama in '12, it would return the neo-con gang to power in Washington. (Obama campaigned on the promise of finishing the job in Afghanistan, i.e. stabilizing the country to secure it against repossession of any of its territory by transnational terrorists.  If you like any of Obama's promises, you cannot fault him for wanting to make good on all of them.)  Two senior U.S. commanders responsible for Afghanistan asked Obama not to release photos of U.S. soldiers torturing Afghan prisoners, because they were afraid that'd endanger American soldiers.  Do you seriously think that any president would disregard such a request?   

As Al has argued, Obama knows the torture photos are likely to be released eventually anyway.  Not releasing them now does not give Cheney or any Bush official any measure of protection against whatever sanctions can be taken against them by foreign or U.S. prosecutors, or further exposure of their crimes by congressional investigators.  But by removing himself further from the causal sequence that leads to those hearings and investigations, he denies the news media any ability to claim that he is using his presidency to persecute his predecessor's -- a claim that the media as well as the Republicans would be sure to make.  To have a successful or even historic presidency, he has to use his window of peak political power to begin to solve the central problems felt by the majority who elected him, and that means the economy, health care, and the other long-neglected public needs that jeopardize this country's ability not only to recover from this serious recession but to compete in a world changing faster than Bill Clinton can talk.

The choice that Obama faced was not complex:  Successful political leaders minimize political risks in order to keep dry the powder of their influence over all the other political actors in government who have to be herded toward the changes he wants to make.  They also have to make sure that even non-political actors in the system, such as influential military leaders (or the heads of independent regulatory agencies, or even Supreme Court justices), believe that he respects their professional judgment -- or else they will be trashing his, behind his back.  To release these photos over the objection of military commanders would have made more difficult the president's task of gaining more of their confidence for tougher decisions ahead where he may have to turn down their advice.

 

Al, I wish you could debate Greenwald

I respect his views but disagree on this one, and I would love to see you debate with him.  It would be extremely enlightening and thought-provoking to have two serious people take this on.

I don't know the same things you don't know

The fact is, during the campaign Obama proved that he thinks strategically, focusing on the long haul, and that small, tactical setbacks don't bother him much. Many Democrats had a lot of criticism of what now appears to have been a very smart campaign strategy (though I suppose he could have won by sheer dumb luck -- yeah, right).

The fact is, true progressives have been powerless for so long in this country (and recently have felt like even their oxygen has been choked off). I share their disappointment when the "battle of the day" doesn't go their way. Why just the other day the President referred to those "little" single-payer advocates. He really didn't have to demean us that way.

The fact is, though, Obama's having a hard time even getting moderate things done. There's clearly little political will in Congress to pay for extending health care benefits to those on the margins of our society. As Al notes, the military and intelligence communities are quasi-independent (and now appear to be engaged in a battle royal with the Speaker of the House).

The fact is, we don't know the long-term plan. Obama might be dedicated to preserving the imperial presidency. He might really believe we need to send more taxpayer money to Wall Street. Or, he might believe he has over 7 more years to impose lasting regulations on finance and making strategic changes to the economy. He might internally be dedicated to sending Cheney to The Hague before his Presidency ends.

We just don't know. We have mainly cheap rhetoric and the results of a few tactical battles. Not much concrete data about the long-term strategy. The data we do have suggests that there might be more pleasant surprises ahead, like killing the Reliable Replacement Warhead program. Obama's not perfect -- anybody electable in this country would inevitably disappoint a true leftist at least some of the time -- but he is the most progressive President we've had in a while (out of an admittedly weak field). Perhaps the most progressive we could have at this point.

We do know that most of us have a lousy track record when it comes to figuring out Obama's strategy. Al's track record is much better than most, though. He has taught us to be patient. Worry less about the daily battles, work more to change the future.

He gives good advice.

Agree With Obama

He is battling for the hearts and minds of Muslims, and releasing these photos will do that no good.  I agree with him.

@Al

I know anything with the word "nuclear" is a hot button for you, but wouldn't the Obama/Gates military spending changes also fall into this category of things that would make the Pentagon a bit angsty?  I mean, you do NOT fuck with the military-industrial complex without some serious backlash.  While we see the "procurement reform faces opposition" story every once and a while - I think we can all agree there is an incredibly heated battle going on behind the scenes as we speak.  I would think this, in combination with No New Nukes...and add in the knee-deep shit the CIA seems to be wading into at the moment, and there's a compelling case for your view on this subject.

Also - and this is so simple that I think it doesn't underscore how important it may be - but Pres. Obama intends to give a major speech in Egypt next month.  Releasing these photos right now would severly undercut the message he is trying to send to the Muslim world.  Not to mention the security implications of enflaming the entire extremist wing (and likely those "on the fence") and then showing up in a middle eastern nation.  I'm sure the Secret Service is fine with those pictures not coming out until after this event.

As for the "poutrage" thats currently making it's rounds - I think part of a it (a large part) is what I call "Internet Instant Gradification Syndrome".  IIGS leaves people in a state where things have to be done NOW NOW NOW.  We have to hurry up and get moving towards the goal at all times.  If you're not moving forwards your moving backwards.  Life or death, every day, every second!

While pressure DOES need to continue on the Administration to get to the bottom of this, I don't think everyone appreciates the gravity of this.  We're talking WAR CRIMES here - we're talking Bush and Cheney possibly being sentenced to death if convicted (oh, the Saddam irony).  An ex-US President and Vice President for Christ's sake.  This cannot be taken lightly, or in a rush.

Nor should we loose sight of how deep this rabbit hole goes.  We're talking about using torture to fabricate evidence to go to war...a war in whcih we still have troops in the field.  We're talking about the politization of the Justice Dept. to authorize it, the outing of a CIA agent (Plame) because her Husband was fighting aginst it, Haliburton & KBR making money off it like Nazi bankers (oh, the Bush irony), Blackwater privatizing it, plus many many more dark-hued threads in this absurd 1984-ish story.

I want to see whoever is responsible in court, but I'm also willing to let the new Administration and Justice Department get a handle on just how big a mess the Bush Administration actually made.

@Al (ps)

"I am a free speech absolutist.

Every government document ought to be available to the public.

Every single one."

 

Does that mean it ought to be public, immediately?  Because that's the crux.  We wouldn't want the current positions of every Army unit in Iraq uploaded to the internet, and we wouldn't want the memo that has the nuclear codes available at the public library...right?

And since you, and I agree, believe these photos WILL come out eventually, and probably not in the too distant future even, that this wouldn't fall into the catagory of things to get overly pissed off about.

Geopolitics

Al, terrific post and I concur fully. I would add that when you ask what other things have changed in the last month to allow Obama to delay the photo release, we might look back to Iraq, Pakistan, and Iran. With increased car bombings in Iraq, the powder keg of Pakistan seemingly teetering over an abyss, and Israel sending more than bellicose signals over its willingness to bomb Iran, there are simply bigger issues happening right now than the mere fact of torture photos everyone already knows about. The dustup of their release might not drive thousands of young men in to the hands of Al Queda, but it might weaken the US hand as it works the Pakistani and Iraqi crises and pushes Israel to chill out. I would rather keep to the timetable more or less for withdrawal from Iraq and foster a more stable Pakistan while beginning actual peace talks between Israel and Palestine, Israel and Syria, and US and Iran--simultaneously--than risk the drama of these photos' release. This is prudence not soft-headedness and anyone who makes the claim about there being no difference between Bush and Obama (which some so-called liberals simply love to spout) is being both imprudent (wishing for chaos that hurts the global poor) and soft-headed. 

Thanks for the excellent post, really.

posture

not sure i appreciate the (cough/gag/vomit) triangulation, but according to john cook, who lays out a reasoned rationale at gawker, doesn't matter what obama says, the photos will end being released anyways:

http://gawker.com/5253864/if-youre-angry-about-the-torture-photos-youre-...

via rising hegemon.

 

 

posture

just thinking outloud, what does obama gain if he's pretending to oppose the release of photos, even when he knows they're going to get released anyways? the obvious gain seems to be is that he covers his ass if release of such things creates violence that may end up with the death of soldiers.

obama would quickly lose political capital if another somalia/blackhawk down scenario took place where the press would pile on obama and blame him for the deaths.

this isn't just acting out of selfish political expediency. a weakened obama endangers his domestic agenda from getting passed.

without his token gesture of opposition, obama would get blamed for release of photos even if the it was the courts who dictated that that be released.

hysterics

<i>As for the "poutrage" thats currently making it's rounds - I think part of a it (a large part) is what I call "Internet Instant Gradification Syndrome".  IIGS leaves people in a state where things have to be done NOW NOW NOW.</i>

it isn't just rush limbaugh who is invested in seeing obama fail. cynics on the left are desperate to be proven right. they also want obama to fail so they have the pleasure of crowing "i told ya so." all the "the sky is falling!" hysterics from multitudes of chicken littles are ridiculously premature.

i chalk it up to overcompensation. liberals spent 8 years giving clinton too much of a benefit of the doubt. with the passage of nafta, deregulation, and a preoccupation with hoarding a surplus, (instead of investing it back into the people,) clinton got away with selling us down the river. now part of the fury against clinton for having been taken for a ride, is getting channeled against obama. liberals disillusioned by clinton are determined not to be fooled again.

Wow. Just wow.

Proud to be an Authentic Journalism Fund contributor.  Thanks for the insights, Al.

Al you hit it out of the park

Al, I always read your posts but have never commented. I agree whole heartedly. I watch the MSM and they are going nuts over this. As of last night I have decided not to watch too much. I'm getting depressed. It's this thing about the Single Payer Heath care issure. Obama never campainged on that issue.  Like he said yesterday, IF he was starting from scratch then he would make it part of the overall picture. But so many Progressives can't get past the no single payer. I like our President and support him. Let's see, he has been in office what 130 days? And he is already being vilified. God help our republic.

Keep up the good work. I love your site. Sanity Sanity Sanity to all.

fund drive

 

Oh, did I mention...

that there's a "Make a Donation" button in the upper right of this page?  No?  Okay then, there's a fund drive happening right now and there's a "Make a Donation" button in the upper right of this page.

 

hey, good of you to point it out. i had overlooked it.

 

Medieval Court System

Where is it?   Hopefully no man or woman will have to experience it, as it has existed for me in reality.   Excluding the present judges as

far as I have seen,  I have personally experienced what I believed

as a citizen of the United States to be an establishment "of the people, for the people, by the people" to be nothing but " of the lawyers, for the lawyers, by the lawyers".

 It sickens one to realize what has gone on and how citizens have been treated in the community I personally chose to: live in, run a business in,  provide the best quality medical care in, provide free care for the police department and their families in,  volunteer for community causes  in  (solely,made townspeople aware of the nuclear reactor we have in our backyard), raise my child in, support all of it's educational system (free-care for those who were in need of it) in, and most importantly believe in.  LET'S PUT THAT BELIEVED IN...

Perhaps my book will be entitled "EXPOSURE" and the citizens of my community will be made aware of the wrongdoings of the Northborough Police Department,  the Westborough District Court, the Worcester County Court System. I am told they are now aware of what "they did to that poor little woman".

I've done my homework, I am ready. It all starts at the community level doesn't it.....

I acknowledge my sociology professor back at the University of Montana many, many years ago, who said "do not be overcome".

Linda Hardy, PT

 

I see hypocrisy all around

First of all Mr. Giordano, you hit the nail on the head. I am so glad that I found you. Its almost as if I refound my sanity. Concerning all these people who scream and holler " America does not torture!" I would like to invite them into my world. As an African-American female, I cringe when I hear people say that America does not torture.

We used to hang black people from the highest tree, for fun no less, but we don't torture.

We incarcerate more people than any other country on the planet and that includes China, but we don't torture.

We beat up and kill innocent black men, on tape  no less for the whole world to see, but we don't torture.

We've executed countless prisoners in the name of justice, many of whom were found to be not guilty, after their deaths, but WE DON'T TORTURE!

We set the fire hoses and the police dogs on marchers executing their constitutional right to march  but we don't torture.

I want Glenn Greenwald , who I hear is an attorney,to go to Angola prison in Louisiana, and ask the inmates there if this country tortures.

For all of you out there who swear that this country has lost its moral compass, please, spare me! There is a reason why malcolm X said this was the most racist country on earth.

Where was all this outrage during the run-up to the war. Where were all these attorneys and what-not when bush first stole the election. They hid underneath their tables until it was safe to come out again. Now, that we have a reasonable President, some of these same people want to talk tough. I'm through with them.

rock on Mr. Giordano.  I agree with you and I support you.

Dannie: You should get your

Dannie: You should get your post "out there"!  Excellent!

Al: all I can say is that those of us who have been in "The Field" for a year or so, and have been following you with "The Making of a President" should know that President Obama is one of the greatest strategists we've seen in a long time; as well as ridiculously brilliant.

I'm not stressing over those pictures.

I agree with your take on this, Al.

 

 

waterprise2 AKA Pam

Liberal with a Capital L!

 

Generals who encouraged torture -- sanction or promote?

Al: In the end, preventing torture is a political struggle and also a power struggle, so much more than a matter of "The Law." It’s about changing society and its presumptions, and changing institutions, like the military and police agencies, where the culture is so prone to that kind of abuse.

Good point, though I believe strongly that enforcing the laws against torture against those who from the top set in motion a policy of torture is an integral part of that political and power struggle.

Couldn't agree more, though, about the need, in order to prevent ongoing and future torture, to change institutions like the military. 

So what sort of signal does it send to promote Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who ran the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq from September 2003 until last year? 

Under McChrystal's command, torture was routine in JSOC's shadowy, constantly renamed/numbered task forces.  Under his command, JAGs briefed task force members that their abusive treatment of prisoners was legal and informed them of a written directive authorizing them to use torture techniques forbidden to regular soldiers.  Task force members were repeatedly assured that they'd be protected by higher-ups, who'd take the heat of any investigation.  Several actual investigations were scuttled by destruction of evidence, with no penalties to anyone.  Despite all that, JSOC had a high incidence of members being disciplined for abuse of prisoners.  Yet no senior officers were ever touched.

Now Pres. Obama has named him to command U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Questions were raised about torture under his watch by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during confirmation proceedings for his most recent (Joint Chiefs staff) appointment, but a private chat seemed to appease them. 

Is promoting someone who actively promoted and protected torture under his previous command, without any effort to ask or answer publicly the questions raised by his record, going to make abuse of Afghan prisoners less or more likely?  Is Obama's declaration forbidding torture enough to do the trick?

Or would it be more effective for everyone in the military to see that authorizing and condoning routine abuse in troops under your command is a career-stopper?

Add comment

Our Policy on Comment Submissions: Co-publishers of Narco News (which includes The Narcosphere and The Field) may post comments without moderation. A ll co-publishers comment under their real name, have contributed resources or volunteer labor to this project, have filled out this application and agreed to some simple guidelines about commenting.

Narco News has recently opened its comments section for submissions to moderated comments (that’s this box, here) by everybody else. More than 95 percent of all submitted comments are typically approved, because they are on-topic, coherent, don’t spread false claims or rumors, don’t gratuitously insult other commenters, and don’t engage in commerce, spam or otherwise hijack the thread. Narco News reserves the right to reject any comment for any reason, so, especially if you choose to comment anonymously, the burden is on you to make your comment interesting and relev ant. That said, as you can see, hundreds of comments are approved each week here. Good luck in your comment submission!

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

User login

Navigation

About Al Giordano

Biography

Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

RSS Feed