Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

01.18 Learning From Cuba’s ‘Medicare for All’

01.17 As Planet Heats Further, Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is 'Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe' [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.17 Could a Green New Deal Save Civilization? [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.17 New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say scientists

01.17 Studies Show Ice Melting and Ocean Warming Both Happening Much Faster Than Previously Thought

01.16 Immediate fossil fuel phaseout could arrest climate change – study [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.16 Our oceans broke heat records in 2018 and the consequences are catastrophic [charts]

01.15 Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies [Wonderful!]

01.15 Australia could hit 100% renewables sooner than most people think

01.15 Ion age: why the future will be battery powered

01.15 Barclays on wrong side of history with climate policy, says Greenpeace

01.15 'One fish at a time': Indonesia lands remarkable victory

01.15 Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’

01.14 V.A. Seeks to Redirect Billions of Dollars Into Private Care [The most public and efficient healthcare in America has been demonized and will be destroyed rather than improved, raising total  per-capita costs]

01.14 Saudi Arabia Increases Solar Targets To 20 Gigawatts By 2023 & 40 Gigawatts By 2030

01.14 Solar + Storage Half The Cost Of Gas Peaker Plants — 8MinuteEnergy

01.14 Why thousands of Los Angeles teachers are going on strike [Well at least we got a big tax-cut for the super-rich, that was the most important thing.]

01.14 Air pollution 'as bad as smoking in increasing risk of miscarriage'

01.09 Dutch eco initiative halves energy bills in first UK homes

01.09 'It's a nightmare': Americans' health at risk as shutdown slashes EPA

01.08 Monarch butterfly numbers plummet 86 percent in California [0:58 video; Do You Care?]

01.08 Carbon emissions up as Trump agenda rolls back climate change work [Making America Less  Great Again]

News Media Matters

01.19 How conservative media became a “safe space”

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

01.19 The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?

01.19 Donald Trump Has Never Cared About Workers, and Never Will

01.19 Republicans’ lack of alarm over the shutdown reveals a disturbing truth [Sociopaths have little or no conscience, empathy or morality...]

01.19 Arizona: Four women convicted after leaving food and water in desert for migrants [morality is against the law]

01.19 Mueller breaks silence to dispute parts of bombshell report on Michael Cohen

01.18 “Are We Really Where We Are?”: Trump, Putin, and Washington’s Unbelievable New Normal

01.18 With Mattis Gone, Trump Is Already Sowing More Global Chaos [Trump plays General—what could go wrong...]

01.18 The Right’s Case Against Soaking the Rich Is Dirt Poor

01.18 Trump Worsens the Border Crisis

01.18 Impeach Donald Trump

01.18 President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project [An impeachable offense]

01.18 10 Things We All Lose If Bernie Chooses Not to Run in 2020 [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.17 These 2020 hopefuls are courting Wall Street. Don't be fooled by their progressive veneer

01.17 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lambasts US government shutdown in first House speech [3:27 video; Intelligent government is desperately needed]

Justice Matters

01.15 The US apparently kept no detailed notes of Trump-Putin meetings for the past 2 years

01.15 California’s largest utility just declared bankruptcy. Hello, climate change.

12.28 Mueller closes in: what will the Trump-Russia inquiry deliver in 2019?

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

01.17 Trump's economy is great for billionaires, not for working people [chock-full of pesky facts that government and media ignore and distort]

International & Futurism

01.19 The Ebola outbreak in Eastern Congo is moving toward a major city. That’s not good.

01.19 Ahead of Third Annual Women's March, Group Releases Far-Reaching 'Intersectional Feminist Policy Platform'

01.17 +++ Brexit crisis: Germany and Europe react — live updates +++

01.17 White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It's not [More equality requires us to fix ignored and distorted problems]

01.16 Global tensions holding back climate change fight, says WEF [Consistently stupid and harmful policies... Seeing a pattern?]

01.16 How Governments React to Climate Change: An Interview with the Political Theorists Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Tortured Logic: Obama Writes Off Old Crimes While Promoting New Outrages
Newspaper logo

AMERICA'S IMPERIAL ELITE ACT LIKE TALIBAN:

Tortured Logic: Obama Writes Off Old Crimes While Promoting New Outrages

by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 16 April 2009
The "rule of law" dictates that those who have planned, ordered and committed torture be prosecuted. The law has no special dispensation for crimes that might be "too disturbing" to prosecute.
I have little to say at the moment on the details of the Bush torture memos released by the Obama Administration, beyond what I have been writing for many years now about these sickening practices, and what they say about America's bipartisan, imperial elite, which countenanced them, and often openly championed them. (I think my first piece on America's torture system was written in early spring 2002 -- a column printed in the Moscow Times, drawn from readily available stories in the mainstream press. America's willing practice of torture as an official policy has been open knowledge for almost the entire decade. But I will admit the bit about using putting insects into the torture box of a wounded, deranged captive was new.)

I suppose it's true that the United States government has become so degraded that we must be surprised and glad when a president actually obeys the law when it suits him.

Barack Obama is being given great credit for releasing the memos, although as the president himself points out in his statement, their release was actually required by law. I suppose it's true that the United States government has become so degraded that we must be surprised and glad when a president actually obeys the law when it suits him, but I must say that I can't find any great cause for rejoicing -- especially as Obama's statement immediately and definitely ruled out prosecuting any of the direct perpetrators of these criminal actions.

I know that some are holding on to the hope that Obama's carefully worded statement leaves open the door to prosecuting the actual instigators of the crimes -- the top officials of the Bush Administration, including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and a host of other very senior officials and advisers; but I believe this is wishful thinking in the extreme. Look again at what Obama actually said:

But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.

If Obama truly believes that prosecuting unknown CIA operatives would constitute some kind of disturbing disunity that the country could not bear in the present situation, then how likely is he to pursue the even more "disturbing" prospect of investigating and indicting a former president and his top officials?

And now focus closely on this astonishing phrase:

...we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.

It is clear in the context of his statement that "the forces that would divide us" refers to those who are calling for the instigators and perpetrators to be prosecuted. They are the ones insisting on the disturbing, disunifying course of "laying blame for the past." But what, in the name of God, are America's "core values," if they do not include prosecuting people who order and commit the high crime of torture?

And cannot every criminal on the face of the earth now claim the Obama defense: "Surely, your honor, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. So let's forget the fact that I (raped/murdered/robbed/tortured), and move forward, shall we?" For the Obama defense is nothing other than the Nuremberg defense: "I was only following orders. I was given assurance by the highest authority that my actions were legal in all respects." Is this what we have come to? Is that what now constitutes bold, progressive action? Is this, really, part of our "core values," an essential embedded component of our "national greatness?"

The more one considers Obama's remarks, the more offensive they become, and the more flagrantly they insult the intelligence. For the very memos that he has released give the lie to his own statement. Obama says it would be wrong to prosecute CIA underlings for carrying out actions that they were told were legal. Leaving aside the fact that apparently none of these great, courageous, self-sacrificing, vigilant defenders of our "core values" (as Obama lauds them) considered these tortures to be inherently immoral, but simply wanted to cover their ass legally before they wall-slammed the hell out of somebody or poured water down their throats until they began to choke and drown -- the fact is, they were told quite specifically by Bush's White House shysters that there was no guarantee that their actions would be considered legal by a court.

Glenn Greenwald points out the "smoking gun" memo that destroys Obama's entire defense -- for it is a defense -- of the CIA tortures: A signed statement by Steven Bradbury, one of the key paper-pushers in the torture regimen. Bradbury told the front-line torturers:

Given the paucity of relevant precedent and the subjective nature of the inquiry, however, we cannot predict with confidence that a court would agree with this conclusion [i.e., the green light for heinous tortures].

To be sure, Bradbury was politically astute enough to recognize that the essential unity of America's power-structure elite means that it is almost impossible for anyone who would genuinely and actively pursue imperial crimes to ever reach the top, for he added:

...the question [of prosecution for the torture techniques] is unlikely to be subject to judicial inquiry.

And just as Bradbury foresaw, Obama has slammed the door shut on such judicial inquiries.

In the overblown, self-regarding prose that has become his trademark, Obama lauds himself and his administration for their fealty to the "rule of law" in releasing the memos. But of course, the "rule of law" also dictates that those who have planned, ordered and committed torture be prosecuted. The law has no special dispensation for crimes that might be "too disturbing" to prosecute. And so his ringing conclusion -- "we have taken steps to ensure that the actions described within them never take place again" -- rings completely hollow. How will failing to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes deter any future perpetrator in high office? The latter will know that their crimes will be "too disturbing" to prosecute -- in much that same way that the biggest fraudsters on Wall Street today are "too big to fail," and must be allowed to escape the consequences of their actions.

In the end, of course, it doesn't matter. This story will be buried in a day, or less, just as all the other many, many stories about the American torture program have been buried, year after year after year. And even this story -- as morally repulsive as it is -- deals only with the tip of the iceberg of America's global gulag. It refers only the CIA's treatment of a very limited number of high-profile prisoners. Yet tens of thousands of people have passed through the belly of the gulag beast, where many have been tortured, held captive for years, even murdered. And not only is this still going on, but the Obama Administration is moving strenuously in court to drive these captives even deeper into limbo, asserting that no one who is plunged into the netherworld of America's little Gitmos in Afghanistan has the slightest right to any tincture of legal redress -- even if they had been kidnapped from the streets of some foreign city and "renditioned" to Afghanistan.

The old crimes are being written off; the new crimes keep going on.


Chris Floyd at his deskChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on April 17, 2009.

 



Public Service Ads:
Verifiable Voting in Maryland