Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Obama fails his first test on civil liberties and accountability -- resoundingly and disgracefully

Obama fails his first test on civil liberties and accountability -- resoundingly and disgracefully by Glenn Greenwald on Salon.com

I always liked the music of the Talking Heads. Right now, I've got that voice going in my head saying

"Same as it ever was.
Same as it ever was.
Same as it ever was ..."

A source inside of the Ninth U.S. District Court tells ABC News that a representative of the Justice Department stood up to say that its position hasn't changed, that new administration stands behind arguments that previous administration made, with no ambiguity at all. The DOJ lawyer said the entire subject matter remains a state secret.

Same as it ever was. Did you think you voted for Change?

If the Obama administration refuses to prosecute criminal acts that occurred in the previous administration, and if they assertively act in the courts to try to protect and shield those who committed crimes in the previous administration, then that makes the Obama administration an accomplice to those crimes.

No grey area here. You either prosecute torturers, or you protect and shield them. The Obama administration has come down quite clearly on the side of the torturers and is acting to protect and shield them.

Not only is this highly immoral, but its also doing terrible things to the nation. First, it means that any slow down (not a halt, just backing off a bit) of the Obama administration with regard to torture is temporary at best. That's because the Obama administration is sending a clear message to people who serve under future administrations. That is that the law will not be enforced in this area. If a future President feels that torturing other human beings (such as the recent revelations that people's genitals were being sliced), then they can look back on the Obama Administration and feel safe in ignoring the real laws of the land and the world that forbid such torture.

And secondly, the Obama administration is sending a general message to everyone on all fronts, whether it be theft or fraud or kidnapping or murder or torture, that crimes will not be prosecuted. The message is clear that there is no opposition party in this country, and no dedication to a rule of law, therefore, anything goes. If you are a criminal in the guise of a public servant or defender, then you don't need to worry that a change of the party in power might expose you to prosecution. Such criminals are obviously considered to be part of the team, and the protection of such criminals ranks as more important than protecting the nation, the Constitution, or the impartial rule of law in America.

From Glenn Greenwald ...
That's what Barack Obama is now shielding from judicial scrutiny. Those are the torture victims he is preventing from obtaining judicial relief in our courts. And he's using one of the most radical and destructive tools in the Bush arsenal -- its wildly expanded version of the "state secrets" privilege -- to accomplish all of that dirty work. I've been as vigorous a proponent as anyone for waiting to see what Obama does before reaching conclusions about his presidency, but this is a very real and substantial act

and ...
At the end of 2006, Slate's Dahlia Lithwick listed the Bush administration's "10 most outrageous civil liberties violations" and it included this:

6. The State-Secrets Doctrine


Lyle said...

Here is an excerpt from his lawyer’s amicus brief from Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Jan 2006:

The masked men first used the scalpel to slash a small, one-inch cut on Mr. Mohamed’s right chest. Mr. Mohamed recalls screaming because the pain was so sudden. Next, they cut him on the left side of his chest. He resisted screaming this time, as he knew the cut was coming. This appeared to agitate Marwan all the more.
“One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts,” reports Mr. Mohammed. “He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony, crying . . . I was screaming.”
This appalling abuse went on for perhaps two hours, and Mr. Mohamed’s penis was cut 20 or 30
times. There was blood all over the place. This torture procedure was frequent at first, and then took place every three or four weeks. The men would enter the cell, tie him up, and spend about an hour cutting small slashes in his penis. They would do it slowly and deliberately. One man would make a cut, and then would smoke a cigarette, talking to the others
in some Moroccan dialect that he could not catch. Then another would take his turn. They never addressed a word to him. Mr. Mohamed describes how they would
tip some kind of liquid on the cuts. The burning was like grasping a hot coal, but not with your hands. At one point, Mr. Mohamed asked a guard why they were willing to do America’s torture, and the guard said: “America’s really pissed off at what happened, and they’ve said to the world, either you’re with us or you’re against us. We Moroccans say we’re with you. So we’ll do whatever they want.”
When Mr. Mohamed asked another guard what the point of the torture was as he was willing to say anything and everything they wanted, the guard told him: “As far as I know, it’s just to degrade you. So when you leave here, you’ll have these scars and you’ll never forget. So you’ll always fear doing anything but
what the U.S. wants.”

Lyle said...

Bring Mohamed Home! http://tinyurl.com/ccaygy

Samson said...

I seem to remember Naomi Klein making the same point in 'The Shock Doctrine'. The point of torture isn't to gain information. Its to tear apart and destroy the human being. The original idea was to then 'rebuild' or 'brainwash' (to use an older term) to recreate the person as they want them. But when that didn't work too well, and instead all that resulted was broken human beings, that doesn't seem to have detered the torturers.

Ms. Klein traces this from research in Canada in the 50's. The same themes show up where-ever the CIA has its dirty little hands.

And since this was a 'rendition' to Morrocco and the Morrocans are the ones wielding the torture devices, then not only is Obama protecting past instances of this behavior, but its also still very much allowed under Obama's executive orders.

'Rendition' is still US policy. All Obama signed was orders saying it can't be a US official that's actually cutting the prisoner.

Lyle said...

As usual Layla Anwar says it best. American Democracy and the Art of Torture. http://tinyurl.com/dceuqd

Lyle said...

Please complain go to Center for Constitutional Rights here: http://ccrjustice.org/get-involved/action/stop-abuse-state-secrets-privilege!