Thursday, May 14, 2009

More Reaction to Obama Suppressing Torture Photos

President Obama's decision to try and block the release of photographs that depict the abuse of detainees has sparked a vocal chorus of opinions in the blogosphere.

Glenn Greenwald follwed up his initial reaction with today's entry in which he states:

We're currently occupying two Muslim countries. We're killing civilians regularly (as usual) -- with airplanes and unmanned sky robots. We're imprisoning tens of thousands of Muslims with no trial, for years. Our government continues to insist that it has the power to abduct people -- virtually all Muslim -- ship them to Bagram, put them in cages, and keep them there indefinitely with no charges of any kind. We're denying our torture victims any ability to obtain justice for what was done to them by insisting that the way we tortured them is a "state secret" and that we need to "look to the future." We provide Israel with the arms and money used to do things like devastate Gaza. Independent of whether any or all of these policies are justifiable, the extent to which those actions "inflame anti-American sentiment" is impossible to overstate.

And now, the very same people who are doing all of that are claiming that they must suppress evidence of our government's abuse of detainees because to allow the evidence to be seen would "inflame anti-American sentiment." It's not hard to believe that releasing the photos would do so to some extent -- people generally consider it a bad thing to torture and brutally abuse helpless detainees -- but compared to everything else we're doing, the notion that releasing or concealing these photos would make an appreciable difference in terms of how we're perceived in the Muslim world is laughable on its face.

Meanwhile Andrew Sullivan backtracks somewhat on his initial outrage and now is asking that we give Obama a break:

When you have inherited a policy of war crimes, and you are still fighting a war, balancing accountability with responsibility is tough. I think, having made our point, we should cut the man some slack on this. What matters is holding those who destroyed America's moral standing responsible. That is a struggle for patriots to engage, a Truth Commission to study, and the attorney-general to pursue, while allowing the president to do his job as commander-in-chief.

I am in agreement with Greenwald on this one. If Obama is serious about accountability (which does not necessarily conflict with responsibility) then he would not be making efforts to suppress these images, continue to argue for indefinite detention, and actively try to continue and expand Bush-era policies.

Indeed, what matters is holding those "who destroyed America's moral standing responsible", but in all of these instances Obama has showed by his actions that he is not willing to move this country closer toward doing so. It is disingenuous to continue to hold one's breath for the moment where Obama will decide to emerge as the Progressive that many of his supporters thought he would be.

Maybe if President Obama is so concerned over sparking anti-American sentiment, he should be more concerned with acts such as these:

American soldiers opened fire and killed a 12-year old boy after a grenade hit their convoy in Mosul on Thursday.

The boy was found with ten thousand Iraqi dinars in his hand - worth less than $9. U.S. officials said the money is evidence of a disturbing new trend.

"We have every reason to believe that insurgents are paying children to conduct these attacks or assist the attackers in some capacity, undoubtedly placing the children in harm's way," a U. S. military spokesman wrote in an email on Saturday.

But eyewitnesses said the boy, identified as Omar Musa Salih, was standing by the side of the road selling fruit juice - a common practice in Iraq -- and had nothing to do with the attack.

No comments: