Obama Releases Torture Memos
It was touch and go, for a while, and it seemed that Obama would buckle under pressure, not wanting to rock the boat, especially given ferocious opposition from much of the national security establishment. But he did the right thing, and released the memos. You can find them here. Here’s an excerpt from Obama’s statement:
“My judgment on the content of these memos is a matter of record. In one of my very first acts as President, I prohibited the use of these interrogation techniques by the United States because they undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer. Enlisting our values in the protection of our people makes us stronger and more secure. A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals, and that is why these methods of interrogation are already a thing of the past….
I believe that exceptional circumstances surround these memos and require their release. First, the interrogation techniques described in these memos have already been widely reported. Second, the previous Administration publicly acknowledged portions of the program – and some of the practices – associated with these memos. Third, I have already ended the techniques described in the memos through an Executive Order.
Therefore, withholding these memos would only serve to deny facts that have been in the public domain for some time. This could contribute to an inaccurate accounting of the past, and fuel erroneous and inflammatory assumptions about actions taken by the United States. 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.”
This was of course the right decision, but Obama’s continued attempts to shield those complicit in torture from the legal consequences of their actions is less noble. Still, how far we have come in a matter of months.