The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

What Obama’s Refusal to Investigate Torture Reveals About America

torture-abuObama refuses to even investigate torture, let alone charge anyone.

Lucas O’Connor cuts to the core problem with Obama ignoring torture:

In the coverage of last week’s tea parties and in attending briefly my local event, I was struck especially by one intellectual inconsistency. The apparently happy coexistence of “Give me liberty or give me death” and “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” You can get into a strained semantic debate to justify those two notions living side by side, but at a core level their sentiments are opposed. Either there are things that this country fundamentally and necessarily stands for or there aren’t.

I don’t think America stands for anything particularly noble at this point.  I’d be happy to be convinced otherwise, so if commenters have ideas, I’d like to hear them.

I should add that on the original question I’m willing to bet that within a couple years we’ll find out that whatever Obama may have said about stopping torture, torture has continued and will continue under the Obama administration.  Less of it, doubtless, but still torture.

The other point that needs to be made is that a lot of Americans really don’t see anything wrong with torture, as Ta-Nehisi Coates points out:

All of that said, what really disturbs me about all of this, is that most Americans still don’t think torture is a big deal. I think in the case of Bush, particularly after 2004, we–the American people–got the government we deserved. I think Bush said a lot about who we were post-9/11. I’d like to see some exploration into how to make this torture argument directly to the people. Maybe we can’t. Maybe people really don’t care that much. But if we’re wondering why Obama isn’t willing to press forward, I think it’s fair to also wonder why the people aren’t pressing him to press forward.

Enough Americans voted for Bush, twice, for him to get into office.  In 2004 they voted for him knowing that widespread torture was occurring.  It wasn’t a problem for them.

America, fundamentally, is not a nation of laws.  It is a nation of men.  If you’re important enough, you will not be held responsible for whatever you do—whether that’s lose trillions and destroy the economy, start an illegal war based on lies, or torture.  That’s just the way it is.  Obama and Bush, between them, have made this point crystal clear.


Big Brother is Watching


American Experiment RIP


  1. Brion Emde

    I have to agree with you, on all points. One only has to look at the bullying that goes on in our schools to see the roots of this. I have no doubt that torture goes on in our prisons, not to mention the inmate-on-inmate violence and brutality.

    The glorification of violence is alive and well in this society.

    What strikes me, though, is all double-talk about law & order, while we have what appears to be an extremely slanted justice system, with more prisoners and much higher percentages of our population, imprisoned.

    I have a hard time seeing how we can hold this place together without respect for the rule of law!

  2. DK Fennell

    So here we can see why the Nuremberg defense failed. The Nazis, stupidly, did not appoint a senior legal officer. There were certainly enough compliant judges at the time; the failure to do so can only be explained as thoughtlessness in the Party’s high command. And if they had such an officer, and he had given his legal opinion about aggressive war, crimes against humanity, genocide, and so forth, the Nuremberg defendants could have argued that they had a “good faith belief” in the soundness of the legal opinions and acted accordingly. Instead of “Befehl ist Befehl,” they could have pled “ich bin nicht ein Rechtsanwalt” (I am not a lawyer).

  3. “When in Rome….” The Emipre is just waiting for its Nero.

  4. Jim

    The state protects the economic base. The most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance capital. Mr Obama does not stand outside this relationship. It serves him and he serves it.

    The very fabric of this economic system is being called into question. They are so projection what they are afraid of most. The red baiting is thick.

    The feudalists used the state to protect their economic base from the growing capitalist class. The capitalist class is doing the same to protect itself from a new class; one that can’t live without jobs, health care, food, homes and security. You notice I did not mention anything about voting.

    I fear the worst is yet to come.

  5. Bukko in Australia

    DK Fennell: The Nazis did not appoint officials from their equivalent to the DOJ to justify what they were doing because they were just SURE they were going to win! No need to cover your tracks when you’re going to be the victor writing the history books.

    And OF COURSE the United States will always be on top. I mean, it’s inconceivable that any other nation like China would ever be in a position to demand that certain guilty officials be turned over to international courts in exchange for economic favours, right? And Obama Democrats will ALWAYS be in charge! It’s not like he would ever be thrown to the wolves by a future right-wing administration. OF COURSE future right-wingers will treat him as honourably as he’s treated them! They never get vengeful, do those righties?

  6. Formerly T-Bear

    Tjfxh – “The Emipre is just waiting for its Nero.”

    Methinks the empire has found its Nero, a pedagogue of jurisprudence demagogue from whose administration sworn to uphold the law have let escape their lips that Law will not be enforced upon those criminal acts of torture that are proscribed by treaty, constitution and law. Impeach the creature.

  7. Tallifer

    Unfortunately, I cannot think of a nation which has not commited atrocities in times of war. And tried to sweep them under the carpet afterwards.

  8. jawbone

    A corollary of Godwin’s Law is that whoever first brings up a Nazi or Hilter comparison has “lost”:

    Has Obama lost because he brought up the Nuremberg defense, that our guys were just following orders and legal memos?

  9. Formerly T-Bear

    EDIT on comment above:

    … a pedagogue of jurisprudence, a demagogue from whose administration sworn to uphold the law …


    Impeach the perfidious creature. Terminate this administration forthwith

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