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Obama, the torturers' friend

By Michael J. Smith on Wednesday February 4, 2009 08:49 PM

This just in, from the ACLU:

Obama Endorses Bush Secrecy On Torture And Rendition (2/4/2009)

NEW YORK – After the British High Court ruled that evidence of... torture at Guantánamo Bay must remain secret because of threats made by the Bush administration to halt intelligence sharing, the Obama administration [said]: "The United States thanks the UK government for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information and preserve the long-standing intelligence sharing relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens."

At least the ACLU reacted a little more strongly than Human Rights Watch, celebrated here recently for delicately balancing human rights with imperial security, and coming down on the side of the latter. Anthony Romero, executive director od the ACLU, said,
"Hope is flickering. The Obama administration's position is not change. It is more of the same. This represents a complete turn-around and undermining of the restoration of the rule of law. The new American administration shouldn't be complicit in hiding the abuses of its predecessors."
Hope flickering, Anthony? It was blown out a long time ago, for anybody paying attention, if indeed it was ever lit. But this is a cavil. I'm glad they at least had something sharp to say.

Oh, the ACLU also

... sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urging her to clarify the Obama administration's position [and] reject the Bush administration's policy of using false claims of national security to avoid judicial review of controversial programs.
Take that, Hillary! Flickering, indeed.

Comments (5)

Save the Oocytes:

More on the cavil: pretending for the moment that it's even possible that some widespread opposition to Obama's policies will ever take place among American liberals, it may be politically expedient for the ACLU to soft-pedal. The ACLU's line that Obama promised "change" and didn't deliver will find more sympathetic ears than my own, which is that if you listened carefully to the man there was no reason for optimism at all. I mean, it was obvious to any regular reader of this site that Obama is merely a well-spoken servant of the ruling class and a more efficient imperial manager, but to the people the ACLU needs to convince, claiming it was knowable in the past comes off as triumphalism. Besides, the idea of someone on the American "left" opposing Obama before election conjures an association with that dread villain of villains Nader. If these liberals/"progressives" are merely self-deluded and blinded by Obama, and not actually supporters of U.S. policy, listening to me isn't going to snap them out of it. I'm tainted by my leftism, and if there's any validity to my criticisms, I'm gloating anyway, hence not worth listening to. There's some vague chance the ACLU's position might be more persuasive.

It occurs to me after typing this that I've just basically described the "concern troll" strategy: it's easier to convert others to your viewpoints by feigning commonality.

It's both despicable and effective. I wonder if that's what the ACLU is doing.


To the SMBIVA partisans it may indeed seem more satisfying to do the "I told ya so" gloat. Put me firmly in that camp. But yeah, if the ACLU wants to be effective they probably have to lean on the "hope flickering" line. And it's not merely about cleverly reaching their target audience; their message crafters probably believe the "hope flickering" line anyway.

I'm no adoring fan of the ACLU, but boy is their stance superior to that of the "spear carriers for empire" HRW (long useful tools for the "humanitarian interventionist" branch of the US imperium).


Now if terrorists who were being tortured in CIA ghost prisons across the globe were of African descent (instead of Middle Eastern descent) and were followers of Jesus Christ (instead of Prophet Mohammed), believe me, Obama wouldn't think twice about not throwing out torture -- lock, stock, and barrel.

After all, there's not a dime's worth of difference between Bush and Obama when it comes to believing that Judeo-Christianity is superior to the Muslim faith and that it's still politically correct to discriminate against those who are brown, whereas it no longer is against those who are black.

As I've said before, the ban-on-torture bone that Obama has recently thrown to us on the Left has quickly crumbled into a pile of dust.

Peter Ward:

Cynthia, if black Christians are now exempt from torture why hasn't the vast network of torture chambers spamming America--aka, the prison industry--been thrown out lock, stock and barrel? It's true that prejudice is in operation, but within the US it is in fact African-Americans who've taken the brunt of it (whites have lived in more or less perpetual fear of a black uprising ever since slavery was abolished).


Peter Ward,

Perhaps you're right in saying that more people of African descent than ones of Middle Eastern descent are being unjustly incarcerated in civilian prisons across America. But there are two reason why you can't say the same thing about descendants of Africa being tortured within American-backed prisons: 1) America's civilian prisoners, unlike its military ones, aren't free to torture so-called "enemy combatants" and 2) more people of Middle Eastern descent than ones of African descent fit the profile for this specific type of combatant.

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