Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Doing the right thing is a "serious mistake"?

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?


  1. 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.

    Strong people are just those who hit weak people, no?

    Humble and proud…  Humph, I’ll have to think about that one…

  2. This needs to be said over and over again until enough people really get it. The military has admitted to 2 dozen deaths during interrogation. The Red Cross and other humanitarian groups claim there are far more. Those are deaths. A person doesn’t have a heart attack while undergoing interrogation if all they are doing is giving him a little love tap on the cheek.

  3. According to the Guardian, in about-turn, Bush aides may be prosecuted over torture.

    The suggestion is something along the lines of a bi partisan 9/11 commission.

    I think this is an excellent thing. If you’re going to go after someone for this sad chapter in US history, go for the lawyers who framed the permissions, and not the CIA operatives themselves. We don’t want a repeat of Abu Ghraib, when the ones who carrying ultimate responsibility pass the buck.

    But we should be aware there will be a backlash over this. Here’s an example of the hysterical language of those who don’t want to have their friends exposed for wrong doing:

    Marc Thiessen, a former Pentagon and White House official, criticised the president for releasing the memos. “President Obama’s decision to release these documents is one of the most dangerous and irresponsible acts ever by an American president during a time of war – and Americans may die as a result.”

  4. Jjc2008

    being faced down with the truth about being bullies.

    Torturing is bullying…..

    it’s a scare tactic of all scare tactics….

    it is not noble

    it is not efficient…

    and for the life of me, I will never get, never understand those that bully, or even those that can witness bullying of any kind, from verbal abuse to physical pain, without stopping it.

  5. creamer

     I’m fine with an investigation. But if it comes at the expense of health care or any other inititive we elected President Obama and this congress to enact, then I would be inclined to bury it. I fear this becoming a media circus allowing republicans and there allies to distract from issues that effect all of us.


  6. Neef

    But I think it was a mistake too. I have no doubt it was the moral thing to do, but I believe Obama’s job is to carry out the aggregate will of the electorate. I’m not sure where that will lies, at this point. Prosecution is going to eat up a massive amount of political capital and goodwill, I don’t think anyone doubts that.

    As the party in power, the biggest danger is that we overreach and provoke a backlash. I get very very nervous when Obama does exactly what the DKos crowd wants, as I suspect that crowd is significantly to the left of the country at large. That being said, I can’t fault the guy for paying attention to his base. I just hope that base is being realistic about what can and can’t be achieved in this political climate.

    If prosecution is the most important thing, the absolute most important, then lets go with that. But by putting this at a higher priority than anything else, we are implicitly acknowledging that the risk to Health Care, EFCA etc. is acceptable. If (IF!) we get prosecution and NOT Health Care, I hope we remember that’s what we chose.

  7. nrafter530

    Friends at home ticked me off in the last week when I talked to them.

    Some laughed at the idea of waterboarding…joked about it “They should waterboard the Yankees!”

    Two of my friends threatened to leave the Democratic Party if they prosecute, or as one of them said “Spend their time opening old wounds.” Another friend I worked on the campaign with has become incredibly apathetic about politics, because, as he says, “The Democratic Party only cares about settling the score” and says he’ll never work on another campaign again.

    Let’s face the reality that this is not going to covered by the media as “justice being served” by rather as a political witch hunt and “Democrats retribution, etc.” The media is going to act like their defense lawyers and we may all find ourselves on the losing side of an election, with Americans pissed that we “wasted our time seeking political retribution” shaking our heads and wondering why.

  8. creamer

     Every cable news show I saw last night spent most of their time on this. I suspect the networks will follow. Let’s face it, this is sexier than health care, jobs or miles per gallon.

    I truly hope this stays in the background until all the facts/ evidence has been discovered. I will say that after watching last night that this is too important to ignore. And that if we prosecute anyone, it should start with senior officials including Bush and Cheney.

    But if it gets the media attention I fear it will, you better crank up the senate campaigns for 2010, because we will have to do health care in 2011.


    We were attacked on 9/11 because the Bush administration ignored intelligence that warned them about the attack.  Then they started torturing people to supposedly get them to give information about possible upcoming attacks.

    This causes me cognitive dissonance. They IGNORED valuable information, obtained WITHOUT torturing anyone.  So how do they make the leap to “we need to torture people in order to get valuable information”?  

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