Please notice that in this picture, the penis is blurred out. I guess that's the offensive part of this picture.
After many weeks of discussion, President Obama finally coughed up the word we all have been waiting to hear. He relented to using the honest word, the word we’ve been using for five years, the only word that could be applied to our treatment of many “enemy combatants.” It is not a pretty word, in fact it is a shameful word but it is the only accurate word. He didn’t skirt around and call it “enhanced interrogation technique” or “extreme questioning” or “unpleasant discussions.” He finally decided to use truthful language, speak with us like adults and say the two of the hardest syllables a civilized society could ever say. Torture.
"What I have said, and I will repeat, is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values… I do believe that it is torture. I do not think that is just my opinion; that is the opinion of many who have examined the topic. And that is why I put an end to these practices." - President Obama
His admission would be a relief if there was any chance these comments were anything but hollow words. President Obama has not forcefully restored our country's integrity by requiring prosecutions of these shameful torturers. After his decision to release the torture memos, the presidential push for prosecution was conspicuously absent. In one press conference President Obama all but shut the door on enforcing the laws against Bush officials and torturers. A day later he cracked it back open, making his position on what should be done about these torturers dangerously unclear.
Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, said he will enforce the laws, no matter where they take him, with one glaring exception. He won’t prosecute some poor innocent torturer who was just following orders.
Holder said, "I will not permit the criminalization of policy differences. With regard to those members of the intelligence community who acted in good faith and in reliance with Justice Department opinions that were shared with them, it is not our intention to prosecute those individuals."
Under Attorney General Holder, there are now three categories of interrogation, not torture, good faith torture and shock the conscience torture. This new category, “Good Faith Torture” should distress the minds of the American public to a greater degree than regular torture because it dismisses personal responsibility from the equation.
To illustrate the ridiculousness of Holder’s stance on torturers, I offer this example. A police officer of Arrura, New Jersey, Jane DaPain, is told by City Council Member Frank Jones to torture a rapist-murder. The police suspect the rapist-murder has a partner and in order to prevent further deaths, the police officer must use any means necessary to find the partner. It is a matter of city security. The police officer tortures the guy, repeatedly over a month’s time. The rapist-murder is waterboarded, stripped naked, is sodomized with a broomstick and waterboarded again. When the District Attorney charges the DaPain with torture, DaPain tells the D.A. that Jones told him it was vital to city security. The District Attorney decides not to prosecute either Jones because it was a matter city security or DaPain because she was acting in good faith.
I think Eric Holder would take a different stance in the police station situation, even though the motives are exactly the same. As a public, we would never allow the police, the district attorney and the city council to enforce the laws except when they are acting in good faith.
Good faith torture is a total misnomer. How can anyone be acting in good faith when they torture someone? It is impossible that they were unaware of the illegality of what they were doing. No intelligent person, with any sense of the American legal system, could say with any sincerity, that they didn’t know simulating the drowning of a person, making them get naked, exposing them, putting them in stress positions, putting sticks in their anus, or telling them they would be electrocuted, could be considered anything other than torture and in America, no one is allowed to torture because it is a crime. We have due process and trials to expose the truth, not batons, buckets and broomsticks.
These torturers need to be held accountable for their willingness to perform such a disgusting act of moral turpitude. We cannot allow, “I was just following orders!” to be a defense against what has been done in all of our names under the umbrella of ensuring our security. It is a deplorable act of injustice not to prosecute, to the fullest extent of the law, these scars on the American dermis.
We should not stop at the people who physically tortured these prisoners. We have to unleash our legal venom on the officials who could even bring the sentiment of “good faith” into a discussion. The lawyers, elected officials and supervisors must be held accountable for the crimes they committed. It is their duty to uphold the constitution and the rest of our laws, even when doing so may be unpopular or scary. There is no exception in the oaths our military, security agencies and elected officials take. They promise to uphold the Constitution. They do not promise to protect the Constitution when it is convenient or not otherwise uncomfortable.
President Obama has said he thinks it is necessary to move forward, to stop torturing and to change who we are now. I don’t see how letting torture go unpunished is any kind of change from the Bush Administration’s policy of letting torture go unpunished. Even though the Presidents disagree on what should be allowed to happen going forward, they don’t disagree on what should happen now, nothing.
In a recent interview, Senator John McCain said, "We need to put this behind us, we need to move forward. We have made a commitment that we will never do this again. No administration, I believe, would ever do this again, and it is time to fight the wars that we are in."
How can we move forward if we don’t deal with the here and now. It is disingenuous say we are a different country now, a more peaceful country, if we do not examine ourselves and punish those whose acts have damaged the bodies of human beings, hurt our reputation, eroded our morality and harmed our spirit. Giving a free pass to torturers prevents no one from thinking twice about torturing in the future, stops no one from doing what “has to be done.” A “let the past be the past” approach makes a horrible truth official policy; torture will be prosecuted as stringently in America as jaywalking. That is a reality I find hard to stomach.
Anyone who knew about the treatment of these prisoners or participated in these acts of depravity must be held responsible for their role in the torture. Democrat or Republican, private or general, agent or special agent, President or Congress person; no one should be immune from prosecution. Everyone who could have said no to the torture or to performing torture is accountable for outcome they enabled. They are, in essence, a criminal conspiracy and should be treated as such.
To do nothing in the face of memos that explicitly allow torture is to condone the behavior.
Categorizing torture as a good faith disagreement about policy is a disgusting dismissal of reprehensible truths. We need to cage these monsters in a method that shows the real American way; constitutionally directed due process done in a manner to ensure the preservation of everyone’s humanity.