It’s a tricky business trying to understand when the government is keeping something secret, given that secrets are… secret. However, clues to the existence of secrets can be seen in the patterns of efforts to keep things secret.
This is the case when it comes to Torture Amendment 1157, an evolving amendment offered by Senator Joseph Lieberman. The basic function of Torture Amendment 1157 is to give the Obama Administration the power to keep photographic and video evidence of torture secret from the American people. In understanding what secret evidence of torture exists, we can look at Torture Amendment 1157, and though we can’t see the evidence itself, we can see when the secret torture took place.
The torture did not take place when the Senator Lieberman and the Obama Administration claims it did.
A new version of Torture Amendment 1157 was passed, unanimously, by the U.S. Senate yesterday. Not one senator offered a single word of protest against it. I should point out that the version passed yesterday is better than the earlier version of the amendment. The first version of the amendment, which was also passed unanimously by the Senate, granted the power to the Secretary of Defense to cover up evidence not just of past acts of torture, but also evidence of future acts of torture.
The version of Torture Amendment 1157 that was passed yesterday is a little bit better, because it does not allow photographs of torture in the future to be kept secret. Yet, there’s still a big problem with the resolution: It allows the Secretary of Defense to conceal photographic evidence of any torture or other abuse of any military prisoner that was “taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009”. January 22, 2009 was the last date that George W. Bush was President.
Here’s why this is a problem: In justifying the passage of Torture Amendment 1157, Joseph Lieberman and other politicians have said that Americans already know about the torture that was photographed, and so there’s no real purpose to allowing the photographic evidence of torture to be released.
However, the American people do NOT know about any acts of torture that were going on right up until George W. Bush gave up the White House. The acts of torture that have already been revealed took place years before that.
If there wasn’t any torture going on, being photographed or videotaped, after the torture that’s already been revealed, then why does Torture Amendment Act 1157 protect torture right up until the end of January this year? The fact that Torture Amendment Act 1157 goes right up until January 22, 2009 suggests that torture was continuing through that date.
That’s torture we don’t know about – and so, evidence of that torture would give the American people knowledge of crimes they haven’t been informed about. That exposes the justification of Torture Amendment Act 1157 a scam. The amendment doesn’t just apply to known acts of torture. It applies as well to acts of torture that still remain secret.
When you’re looking to understand government secrets, look at the places the government says you’re not allowed to look. Torture Amendment Act 1157 says that we’re not allowed to look at any evidence before January 22 this year. Therefore, we’ve got good reason to believe that there are photographs of torture and abuse that run right up until that date.
Of course, there may not be such evidence. But, Senator Lieberman has significantly tipped the hat of the government, suggesting that there is. Given the Bush Administration’s outrageous history of committing multiple acts of torture and then lying about it, shouldn’t the American people have the right to know whether these late acts of torture actually took place?
Have we not been given enough reason to be skeptical of our government to know better than to authorize the coverup of torture?