Column, 539 words

Torture.gov

Those who have much to fear from justice are rarely eager to see its purifying waters roll down.

William A. Collins

Torture is,
A brutal crime;
Which we permit,
From time to time.

As we all know, the United States doesn’t torture. Within our own borders. Anymore. That we talk about.

OK, some rogue members of the military, and a few unsupervised intelligence agents now and again, may have exceeded their authority and simply acted at the general urging of former Vice President Dick Cheney. They don’t do that presently, of course.

And OK, maybe some overzealous allies in places like Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Albania, and Syria—you know, people not steeped in the tenets of American justice—got carried away in the frenzy of life-saving interrogations on our behalf. No more though, you can be sure. And yes, maybe some of our own lads at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and other desolate foreign sites, disoriented as they were by their great remove from American soil and scruples, let their fervor to protect the homeland get the better of their consciences. But all that’s over now, we hear.

Yes, we do have to admit that some pretty nasty stuff was done, but it’s too late to correct it. You can’t untorture someone, anymore than you can bring back a murder victim. So the technique most modern societies, and some not so modern, have long relied on instead, is justice. Make the perps pay for their foul deeds before a panel of their peers. This system has more or less worked for centuries.

It doesn’t seem to work here. President Barack Obama prefers the “move forward” approach, rather than wallowing in past evils. That’s the Mafia position too. Also the line former Bush administration officials and the Republican Party take. This isn’t surprising. Those who have much to fear from justice are rarely eager to see its purifying waters roll down.

So why is Obama so firmly opposed to seeing justice done? His predecessors are presumably the guilty ones, not he. Why not go after them and try to restore America’s good name? Does he really think that failing to investigate wrongdoing will earn him bipartisan cooperation for his programs? I guess by now we know how far that’s gotten him.

So instead of running trials, we continue to run “black” interrogation sites, and stonewall other nations’ and our own citizens’ inquiries into what really went on in those dark days. As well as what’s going on now. We even unsuccessfully threatened the British for daring to release details of what their investigations have already turned up.

Nor are we going to release those famous additional torture photos that the world pines to see. That would endanger the lives of our troops, some say. More likely it would endanger the unfettered lives of the officials who let it happen.

What would actually help our troops is making a clean break. Show the pictures, prosecute the thugs, apologize to victims, compensate them, close the black sites, cooperate with our allies, etc. Acting civilized is the best deterrent to terrorism. As it is, Obama is still acting like an al-Qaeda recruiting agent.

Minuteman Media columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut.