reversals we can believe in

By now I'm sure you all know that the Obama administration is attempting to block the release of additional evidence of torture perpetrated by the US, making itself complicit in the cover-up of war crimes committed by its predecessors. The release of the photos, which had been set for May 28, was hard won by the ACLU and other rights groups, and those organizations are vigorously fighting this latest setback.

During the Abu Ghraib investigation, several US senators and congresspeople saw many of the photos that had not been released to the public. These are said to document sexual assault and abuse of both women and child prisoners, among other stomach-churning horrors.

By now you should also know that Obama has revived the use of military commissions to "try" the remaining Guantanamo prisoners. The administration is tweaking the rules a bit, such as supposedly barring "evidence" obtained by torture. But when you're holding a kangaroo court, visible to no one, accountable to no one, under your own improvised rules, you can do anything you want. (All quotes necessary here, as military tribunals are not trials and all the so-called evidence is meaningless.)

I hope those of you who still fantasized about Obama changing US foreign policy - substantially, as opposed to rhetorically - are rousing from your slumber. Remember: the Republicans represent man's inhumanity to man. The Democrats represent exactly the opposite.

If you read one piece about this travesty, make it Glenn Greenwald:
There are many bizarre aspects to Obama's decision to try to suppress evidence of America's detainee abuse, beginning with the newfound willingness of so many people to say: "We want our leaders to suppress information that reflects poorly on what our government does." One would think that it would be impossible to train a citizenry to be grateful to political officials for concealing evidence of government wrongdoing, or to accept the idea that evidence that reflects poorly on the conduct of political leaders should, for that reason alone, be covered-up: "Obama and his military commanders decide when it's best that we're kept in the dark, and I'm thankful when they keep from me things that reflect poorly on my government because I trust them to decide what I should and should not know." It's the fantasy of every political leader to have a citizenry willing to think that way ("I know it's totally unrealistic, but wouldn't it be great if we could actually convince people that it's for their own good when we cover-up evidence of government crimes?").

But what is ultimately even more amazing is the claim that suppressing these photographs is necessary to prevent an inflammation of anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world generally and Afghanistan specifically. That claim is coming from the same people who are doing this: [Please click through...]

. . . .

We're currently occupying two Muslim countries. We're killing civilians regularly (as usual) -- with airplanes and unmanned sky robots. We're imprisoning tens of thousands of Muslims with no trial, for years. Our government continues to insist that it has the power to abduct people -- virtually all Muslim -- ship them to Bagram, put them in cages, and keep them there indefinitely with no charges of any kind. We're denying our torture victims any ability to obtain justice for what was done to them by insisting that the way we tortured them is a "state secret" and that we need to "look to the future." We provide Israel with the arms and money used to do things like devastate Gaza. Independent of whether any or all of these policies are justifiable, the extent to which those actions "inflame anti-American sentiment" is impossible to overstate.

And now, the very same people who are doing all of that are claiming that they must suppress evidence of our government's abuse of detainees because to allow the evidence to be seen would "inflame anti-American sentiment." It's not hard to believe that releasing the photos would do so to some extent -- people generally consider it a bad thing to torture and brutally abuse helpless detainees -- but compared to everything else we're doing, the notion that releasing or concealing these photos would make an appreciable difference in terms of how we're perceived in the Muslim world is laughable on its face.

More here.

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