Friday, April 17, 2009

Obama protects torturers

Today, President Obama released the evidence needed to convict Justice Department lawyers John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury of conspiracy to torture, in the form of previously classified memos authorising torture and providing guidelines for its use. But in the same breath, Obama also ruled out any action being taken against the torturers who implemented those techniques. They had acted "in good faith" and on legal advice, and therefore should not be held accountable. In other words, Befehl ist Befehl - "they were only following orders". The US rightly rejected this attempt at blame-shifting at Nuremberg, and the hypocrisy of them accepting it now to protect their own who have been involved in crimes under US and international law is astounding. but its worse than that - because Obama didn't just promise to protect the US's torturers - he praised them. From his statement:

In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution. The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on the front lines of a dangerous world. Their accomplishments are unsung and their names unknown, but because of their sacrifices, every single American is safer. We must protect their identities as vigilantly as they protect our security, and we must provide them with the confidence that they can do their jobs.
Oh yes - unknown heroes who have Sacrificed To Save America - by torturing people, waterboarding them, threatening to rape and murder their children, and in some cases even killing their victims in the process. So, I guess Obama approves of torture after all. And then, to cap it all off, he says this:
The United States is a nation of laws. My Administration will always act in accordance with those laws, and with an unshakeable commitment to our ideals. excusing those who violate those laws and ideals from any threat of justice. That noise was my hypocrisy meter overloading.

This just makes it clearer: the US will not act to uphold its obligations under the Convention Against Torture, so the international community will have to do it for them. There is universal jurisdiction for torture, and any CIA torturer who sets foot outside the US should expect to be arrested and tried. And the same should apply to President Obama - because by taking a stand to protect his torturers, he's just made himself a co-conspirator.