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Senate Unanimously Attacks Freedom of Information Act

When Barack Obama reversed course earlier this month, and pledged to fight against a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking to make photographs of acts of torture by American soldiers revealed to the public, I was concerned about President Obama going down the path of authoritarianism constructed by George W. Bush. As of this morning, I am concerned that the entire Democratic Party is headed down that path.

I understand that I’ve just made a very broad statement. However, the Democratic Party made a very broad move yesterday. The entire United States Senate gave its approval to an amendment to a war funding bill. The amendment gave the Secretary of Defense the power to censor any photograph of any captured and held prisoner by the US military. Take note of that – the legislation doesn’t just censor the specific photographs of torture that President Obama has chosen to withhold. It gives the Secretary of Defense the power to make any photograph of anyone held prisoner by the military a secret.

democrats censor torture photographsThis includes photographs of prisoner abuse that are taken after the date of the passage of the legislation. This legislation is specifically designed to keep future acts of torture by the US military secret. If the Senate was an honest political arena, this legislation would have been entitled The Censorship of Photographs of Future Torture Amendment.

Stop for a minute and consider the following question: Why, if torture by the US military has really stopped, would the Senate create a new law that authorizes the Secretary of Defense to cover up photographs of torture by the military that will occur in the future?

It seems that the United States Senate is planning for further acts of torture by the US military.

Here’s the language, right out of the the legislation itself, amendment to S. AMDT. 1157 to H.R. 2346, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009:

“any record– (A) that is a photograph relating to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained after September 11, 2001, by the Armed Forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States… shall take effect on the date of enactment of this Act and apply to any photograph created before, on, or after that date”

Not a single voice was raised in dissent. Every single Democrat agreed to this amendment, and right wing independent Senator Joseph Lieberman was leading the way. Amendment 1157 was written by him, and introduced with the added support of Republican Lindsey Graham.

In a larger sense, this is not a partisan issue to trouble the Democrats in particular. After all, Lieberman is an independent, and not one senator Republican, Democrat or independent stood against his amendment – not even Vermont’s independent Bernard Sanders. On the other hand, it was the Democratic Party that promised in the election of 2008 a clean break from the politics of fear. It was the Democratic Party that promised a return to the rule of law under the Constitution. It was the Democratic Party that promised an open government and an end to interference with Freedom of Information Act requests.

Now, with 1157, The Censorship of Photographs of Future Torture Amendment, every single Democrat in the Senate has embraced the politics of fear, has interfered with the Freedom of Information Act, and has joined the Republican attack against the rule of law and the Constitution.

Yesterday, the Democrats of the US Senate moved unanimously to help cover up all past and future acts of torture by our government. Not one newspaper has yet reported on the full impact of this amendment. If the word got out about this legislation, and the Democrats’ role in helping it pass, it would become clear as day that the Democratic Party no longer has any scrap of a legitimate claim to represent the ideals of progressive Americans.

4 comments to Senate Unanimously Attacks Freedom of Information Act

  • Where are all the Democrats who used to complain about torture under George W. Bush? Where are they now that the Democrats in the Senate are helping to coverup torture? Do they only speak out against torture when Republicans are doing it?

  • qs

    We need Rand Paul in the senate.

  • Tom

    Too many of our legislators went along with the Bush lead neocon Republican juggernaut for eight years of misuse, abuse and by-pass of the Constitution and international law in “cowboy diplomacy” based on lies and cooked intel. Now, when the new regime comes in, trying to deflect, ignore and delay accountability for these gross policy mistakes (read “breaking the law”), they conveniently go along to save their asses from jail time, impeachment or re-election problems. Gee, isn’t this poor excuse for “democracy” working well for us?

  • qs

    Hmnmm well Obama’s indefinite detention plan is maybe even worse than Bush in that respect.

    Well maybe not…

    Hard to say what the plan is going to be moving forward.

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