Thursday, April 25, 2013

Torture is a bipartisan value

I was talking to Ms Heel-Filcher about the new report out, that says that responsibility for torture went up to the highest levels of the executive. Most of those in that chain of command are still employed by the U.S. in positions of authority and trust: in the CIA, Defense, State, and elsewhere.

Ms Heel-Filcher asked the question "How likely is it, do you think, that Obama doesn't know the extent of who's responsible for the U.S. torture program?"

My answer, as of this week? Zero. Total impossibility.

You see, as long as there was plausible deniability, as long as the "a few bad apples" parry was viable, Obama's choice not to prosecute those few bad apples was understandable. Wrong, reprehensibly wrong, even on its own terms, but understandable: why would you want to drag the country's collective consciousness through the pit of evil that such a prosecution would represent? (Because if the victims had been sorority girls instead of brown men with beards...)

Now the situation has changed. Supposing for a moment that Obama had been lied to by the intelligence and defense agencies -- had been convinced by his internal accounting that the responsibility lay near the leaves and not at the root -- then the conclusions of this report would, if allowed to become the new normal, spell the end of Obama's actual use of power. If the defense/intelligence structure can pull that kind of coverup on POTUS himself, and face no consequences when it's exposed? Then they're running the show, and POTUS himself is a muppet.

I'm fairly sure that Obama's not a muppet; and I'm damn sure that he doesn't see himself as one. Which leaves him with two options:

Either the President was actively complicit in the covering up of the chain of command giving orders to torture; or anyone in that chain, above the level that the President did know about, needs to spend the rest of their life in Leavenworth. Not just for torture, though that's enough on its own to put you there -- but for trying to make a muppet out of the President in the process.

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