So Senator John McCain, the President’s opponent in our last election, has come out saying that Obama’s decision to release the Bush torture memos is a “serious mistake.” He said, “The release of these memos helps no one, doesn’t help America’s image, does not help us address the issue.”
It appears, my good senator, that your main concern is with America’s image here. But now, as I have so often in the past, I beg to differ. America’s image, worldwide, can only be enhanced with this release. Did you not say yourself, just today, that “the image of the United States of America throughout the world is a recruiting tool for Islamic extremists”? That would be the torturer image, we presume, since the interview topic was the news that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been waterboarded almost 200 times.
We know you didn’t say it, but let’s just get this little objection out of the way right now. These memos didn’t reveal anything new to the bad guys. Does anybody imagine that any prisoner goes home and doesn’t talk about his detention to his friends, family, and neighbors? Oh, they knew about it allright — how else could it have been used as a recruiting tool? The only people who didn’t know about it were Joe Sixpack, Joe the Plumber, average Americans who love their country and think that means having to love whomever happens to be leading it, regardless of his actions (unless, of course, that leader happens to be named Barack Obama).
As American citizens, we have a right to know what our leaders are doing behind closed doors. You do, after all, work for us — not the other way around. We elected you, and you answer to US. Granted, certain operational methods must be classified in the interest of national security, but the commission of war crimes can never, and must never, be concealed for the sake of “public interest.” Whose interest does that really serve, anyway? As I postulated in the preceding paragraph, the only way to keep these techniques completely secret is to never let anybody out of detention, or to kill them. If we’re going to let even one go free, then who are we really hiding the dirt from, if not our own people? And that puts us all at risk. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to actions that could potentially inflame an entire people to want to wage war on us.
With the release of these memos, we have shown the world — our enemies included — that America really has changed. We are no longer the country of the “Decider.” We are now America the beautiful, the generous, the tolerant, the freedom-and-justice-loving, the humble, and the proud. It takes a strong person to admit a mistake. The country giggled and tittered and hung its collective head when a recent president tried to cover up, not a massive torture operation, but a moment of stolen pleasure. How weak and dishonorable that made him look! By contrast, here is Obama, revealing at last what our enemies have long known, and what our friends and ourselves should have been allowed to know, warts and all. Not proud of it? Nobody should be. But what we can be proud of is that today’s America is not the America of last year, or even the last eight years.
We are moving on and leaving the past behind, Sen. McCain. And to leave it behind, we must know what it is we are leaving. So yes, this release most definitely does help address the issue. We now know some of the things that have been done in our name, and how it got to be that way, and maybe now we can find ways to keep it from ever happening again. Because our own safety, security, comfort, etc. can never justify the torture of innocent or even potentially innocent human beings.
In the meantime, dear senator, you guys don’t scare us anymore. We voted for hope over fear last November, or did you not get that memo?