Monday, January 26, 2009

That we are even talking about this testifies to gross moral failure at the highest levels of the Bush administration

Emptywheel also has a post about "Jane Mayer's excellent piece on Obama's Executive Orders banning torture." Mayer begins:
On Thursday, President Barack Obama consigned to history the worst excesses of the Bush Administration’s “war on terror.” One of the four executive orders that Obama signed effectively cancelled seven years of controversial Justice Department legal opinions authorizing methods of treating terror suspects so brutal that even a top Bush Administration official overseeing prosecutions at Guantánamo, Susan Crawford, recently admitted that they amounted to torture. According to some of those opinions, many of which remain classified, President Bush could authorize U.S. officials to capture, interrogate, and indefinitely imprison terror suspects all around the globe, outside of any legal process.

The Obama Administration’s reforms may have seemed as simple as the stroke of a pen. But, on Friday afternoon, the new White House counsel, Greg Craig, acknowledged that the reversal had been gestating for more than a year. Moreover, Craig noted in his first White House interview that the reforms were not finished yet and that Obama had deliberately postponed several of the hardest legal questions. Craig said that, as he talked with the President before the signing ceremony, Obama was “very clear in his own mind about what he wanted to accomplish, and what he wanted to leave open for further consultation with experts.”

Marcy observes:
Obviously, one of those questions is how to approach legal consequences for those who ordered torture--or warrantless wiretapping. The EOs Obama signed last week don't commit him to an approach on that score. Furthermore, he seems inclined to insulate himself from such decisions by putting them in the hands of Eric Holder, to make it a prosecutorial decision. Though Holder has intimated he'd hold both the architects of our torture regime and of our warrantless wiretapping responsible (lucky for him, he could do it all in a giant 2-for-1 deal), I'm not holding my breath on that score. But we won't know what he'll do until he becomes Attorney General.

That said, Mayer makes it clear just how much lobbying has gone into Obama's evolving policy on torture. She describes a meeting that must have taken place in December 2007 or January 2008 with a bunch of officers--including four star Generals--at which the officers lobbied Obama to end our torture regime. That high-level lobbying continued up until last month. Mayer specifically describes the role of retired Marine General Chuck Krulak who promised to "fly cover" for the Obama Administration after they pushed this through.

Fascinating stuff.

--the BB

No comments: