Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Torture Pictures: Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive…

Obama’s reversal on releasing the remaining torture photos gives me that squeamish feeling you get when you know the people in power are refusing to be honest with themselves and the public they were elected to serve. Rather than hide the rest of the evidence that America betrayed its most sacred values in its treatment of detainees, I’m all for making a clean breast of the nation’s crimes, regardless of those who might be implicated – even so-called progressive Democrats.

Bernie Becker and Kate Phillips at the Caucus (NY Times) want to know how this will play out in the long-term view. Here’s their lead:

President Obama’s announcement on Wednesday that he would fight against the release of photographs of abused prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq, not surprisingly, had liberal bloggers and writers seething — not just the left-left base, but also those invested in what Mr. Obama promised would be far more transparency in government than the previous administration allowed.

Becker and Phillips continue:

First off, the legal avenues seem particularly closed to having an appeal of the matter heard at the highest court in the land, given the reluctance of the full panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan to consider another round in the case. Despite whatever new arguments — or fuller arguments — the Obama legal team might try, getting the Supreme Court’s ear after such a resounding lower-level shutdown may be Herculean.

In the political sense, perhaps that’s what Mr. Obama and the Pentagon need to say, that they tried their utmost to obtain the ultimate judgment but could not get another hearing on the issue.

And here’s a heartening word from the right:

More conservative commentators, including some of the more strident critics of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy, saw the decision as a sign that the president was growing into the Oval Office.

Becker and Phillips go on to provide samplings from both the left and the right of the blogosphere, beginning with Andrew Sullivan who was one of the earliest to swoon in the presence of the One:

At The, Andrew Sullivan –- a strong supporter of Mr. Obama last year and a fervent opponent of the methods used against detainees –- wrote on Wednesday night that he could understand how the photos could “inflame the populations of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

But Mr. Sullivan also asserted that “for Obama to act as an extension of the Bush era of secrecy is potentially more damaging to the United States and its interests and service members.”

“You cannot show weakness in the face of this shamelessness,” Mr. Sullivan continued. “Maybe it’s a long game and accountability is a dish best served cold and late. But what if there’s always a reason, in an endless war of occupation of multiple countries, not to serve it at all?”

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