'/> Uncommon Hours: Obama’s desire to “move forward” carries serious risks for democracy
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obama’s desire to “move forward” carries serious risks for democracy

By Bob Sommer

The effectiveness of torture is irrelevant, though you have to wonder how effective it is if one torturee alone had to be waterboarded 183 times. Kind of puts to rest the Jack Bauer scenario trumpeted by FOX and all its sycophants that suppose we had, say (just to pull a number out of the air), 24 hours to save humanity (or to save Americans, anyway, because in FOXland anyone not American--and maybe not Republican--is technically not human), wouldn’t you torture a suspect for information to prevent a catastrophe? Even JB couldn’t squeeze that many waterboardings into his weekly allotment of hours. But we know that torture is not effective—that suspects lie, give bad information, appease their torturers.

But that’s not really the point, is it?—torture's efficacy, random hypothetical TV-drama scenarios substituted for reality by right-wing radicals.

In the play A Man for All Seasons, here is Sir Thomas More’s response to William Roper, the King’s man, all too eager to set aside the law for the sake of expediency:

“And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!”

Isn’t the very essence of justice that no one gets a free pass on obeying the law? Isn’t that why we’re a nation of laws?

Given the magnitude of the crises we face, President Obama’s eagerness to “move forward,” beyond the political live wire of investigating torture (to say nothing of other potential crimes committed by the Bush administration), is understandable.

But alas, it’s not an option. There is the law. Laws were broken. Investigations must proceed. Otherwise, this administration will bear responsibility for colluding in those crimes, and the precedents set will endanger future generations of Americans—and the democracy itself.

Read more:
NYT: “Pressure Grows to Investigate Interrogations”
2 Suspects Waterboarded 266 Times
Panetta and Obama’s Speeches to C.I.A. Workers
Dick Cheney on the torture memos and pirates
Jay S. Bybee: It's Not Torture If You Use A Caterpillar
Ex CIA Official: 'This Was Torture'

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