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Don’t Freak Out, It’s Just Torture, Says Obama

Finally, the White House has officially admitted that the United States federal government purposefully tortured prisoners as part of its War On Terror.

Torturing prisoners is a federal crime. It’s unconstitutional, a violation of the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment in the Bill of Rights.

However, President Barack Obama doesn’t seem to think that torture is a big deal. “I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were,” he said. “There was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.”

Did you catch that? Torturers are real patriots.

The excuses that Barack Obama makes for torture by the US government are the same excuses that have always been used by abusive governments. Yesterday, however, Obama suggested a new justification for torture: It’s just a down-home authentic American pastime.

“We tortured some folks,” Obama said.

We tortured some folks?

Did we have some neighbors over for country fried steaks and lemonade, and then tortured them while chewing on blades of grass, picking the banjo, and sipping some of grandma’s famous lemonade out on the front porch?


The United States government set up secret prisons. It put people into those prisons without any trial or any other due process. It systematically began a program of torture of those prisoners, organized by the White House itself. The White House lied to Congress about the torture, and worked for years, well into the Obama Administration, to keep the torture secret.

There’s nothing quaint about that. There’s nothing folksy about it.

These were grave criminal acts, organized by the White House.

The problem we face is not excessive sanctimoniousness about torture. The problem we face is that the Obama Administration doesn’t seem to think that torture is something to get upset about.

Barack Obama gave a throwaway line at the end of his comments yesterday, saying that “we have to, as a country, take responsibility” for the torture that was done by our government. Yet, what Obama proposes is the opposite of taking responsibility.

Obama suggests that we simply acknowledge that torture happened, and then move on.

The current director of the CIA, John Brennan, continued the program of covering up torture that was begun under George W. Bush. He has been forced to admit that, in order to keep torture secret, he sent CIA spies into the offices of a U.S. Senate special anti-torture investigation to conduct secret surveillance of the investigation there, and to steal incriminating evidence, so that no one would find out about the torture.

This CIA operation against the Congress of the United States is as serious a crime as was the torture that it sought to cover up. However, Barack Obama believes that the crime should go unpunished. He stated yesterday that “I have full confidence in John Brennan.” Obama said that Brennan apologized for his crime, and that should be enough.

That’s not what responsibility looks like.

What responsibility would look like would be the establishment of an independent prosecutor with power of subpoena over all government officials, including President Obama, John Brennan, former President George W. Bush, former Vice-President Dick Cheney, and all “intelligence officials” who had authority over or took part in the torture. Responsibility would look like the criminal prosecution and punishment of all those who supervised, conducted or covered up torture by the U.S. federal government. That includes impeachment of Barack Obama, if he is found to have known about and covered up the crimes.

Responsibility is not what we’re going to see. What we’re going to see from the Obama Administration, and from the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, are more celebrations of torturers as “patriots”.

The reason for this is painfully simple: There are very few politicians in Washington D.C. who have clean hands when it comes to the crime of torture. Most members of Congress, and most senior officials in the Obama Administration, have spoken out in defense of the policies that led to torture. Many of them knew that torture was being conducted, and did nothing to stop it.

Torture by the American government is a bipartisan problem, and so the avoidance of responsibility for it will be bipartisan as well.

4 thoughts on “Don’t Freak Out, It’s Just Torture, Says Obama”

  1. Tom says:

    Yeah, kinda like his “climate policy” – ignore it until you can’t (and it’s FAR TOO LATE to actually do anything about it).
    Obama Admits U.S. “Tortured Some Folks”. Here’s WHAT HE DIDN’T SAY

    four others follow this

    Torture INTERFERES With Our Ability to Fight Terrorism, Obtain Intelligence Information and Protect Our National Security


    U.S. Officials Launched a Systematic Program of Torture Using Specialized Techniques Which Produce False Confessions … to Justify the Iraq War

    and two more on the fact that torture is terrorism and that it’s a prosecutable war-crime.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      It’s also a prosecutable federal crime.

      Now that the government has admitted its agents tortured people, will the torturers finally be brought up on criminal charges? Or are some people above the law?

  2. Charles Manning says:

    Good article. Once again, points are being made in Irregular Times that won’t appear in the MSM.

    In minimizing and excusing officially approved and mandated torture, Obama asserts that the torturers had a good-faith belief that they were exempted from moral and legal prohibition because the persons being tortured had information necessary to defend against terrorism. The belief that torture “works” has clearly been rejected by anyone who has objectively looked at the claim. But many people, such as Obama, still aren’t aware, or pretend not to be aware, that torture doesn’t “work.” The law doesn’t exempt you from obeying its strictures even if you act in good-faith. The only defense against intentional violation of the anti-torture laws is insanity, which to my knowledge has never been invoked by any of the bad actors.

    Calls for prosecution should be viewed in the context of statutes of limitation. Clearly the guilty persons have been depending on Obama’s refusal to pursue prosecutions to get them past dates when many of the crimes, except those that resulted in death, can no longer be prosecuted.

    I’m reminded of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission instituted in South Africa after apartheid was overturned. Desmond Tutu remarked that before you can forgive transgressions, you have to agree upon the facts. Perhaps a Truth and Reconciliation process should be started in the U.S. to establish what really happened and give opportunity to those who advocated and enabled torture to avoid prosecution by confessing to an official body exactly how they violated the law. Those who don’t confess and apologize – as virtually all of the “folks” mentioned as patriots by Obama haven’t – should be prosecuted. If, that is, it’s not too late.

  3. Bill says:

    Maurice Ogden’s 1951 poem, The Hangman, says it all, and Paul Julian’s animated rendition of it should be required viewing for every new voter.

    In case the imbed code won’t work on this site, at the very bottom of this post is the youtube URL. One way of the other, please watch it. I hope it will be the most chilling 10 minutes of your life. It scared the living crap out of me when I was 14 years old (as it still does), and helped make me the man I am today.


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