Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Torture in the Obama era

One of my consistent themes over the last year, when Obama's ascendancy to the White House throne was merely a faux-progressive wet dream, is that on such matters as post 9/11 "war on terra" policies such as torture the White House occupant and his/her party affiliation would make not a dime's worth of difference. The Pope of Hope has not failed to fulfill my initial impressions in the last several months.

Although others have already analyzed the most recent news on the eerie continuance between the Bush II regime and the Obama regime on the matter of torture, I would like to at least reinforce what is out there, and admonish those who continue to cling to their American Idol (which is essentially what the American presidency has devolved into) to reconsider their loyalties and to try something novel: adhere to fundamental principles of human rights and dignity.

Thus far, aside from the symbolic "closure" of the Guantánamo Bay torture chambers, and a few superficial semantic changes (the term "enemy combatant" has been scrubbed from the official governmental lexicon, as has the term "Global War on Terror"), the evidence to date should leave human rights activists and advocates both startled and angry. Although documents from the previous regime have begun to trickle into what passes for news media, Obama's regime has refused to pursue investigations and where appropriate prosecutions of those who crafted the policies in the first place. When an authority figure admonishes his/her subordinates to "move forward" or to "forgive and forget" my impulse is to not take it on face value - rather than suggesting we all gather 'round the campfire and sing "Kumbaya" what Obama is doing is to subtly demand that we dissenters shut up.

Rather than shut up, I hope that those of us who still pass for dissidents in the U$A will ramp up our criticism - reminding those of conscience that torture techniques, that contrary to our ruling elites' propaganda and regardless of which political party presides over them, fail abysmally as a means of obtaining truth (whether we want to define truth as confessions or intelligence), and that merely substituting one gulag for another (as in the case of mothballing Gitmo while expanding Bagram) is simply unacceptable on either pragmatic or moral grounds.

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