Three weeks after saying he would release the pictures, President Obama is moving to prevent the press from obtaining the pictures of the confirmed acts of torture. The courts have already ruled that any “secrecy” considerations are insufficient to overrule the first amendment right to free press. Obama, ignoring the court and taking a play, from the Bush Administration’s playbook, said today he would try to block the release of the pictures.
President Obama said, “My belief is the publication of these photos would not add any additional benefits to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals. The most direct consequence would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and put our troops in greater danger.”
Our soldiers take an oath to uphold the constitution from all threats foreign and domestic. It is their duty to protect the system that President Obama is now impairing. To protect them from a theoretical threat, to make their service nothing more than a vanity, is a disheartening disgrace.
Having another American leader devalue the crimes of the previous administration does not make our soldiers safer. The only way to make deflate the anti-American sentiment is to de-escalate the situation by taking responsibility for our previous actions.
Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.) said, “Keeping the American people in the dark for no other reason than to shield misconduct, avoid embarrassment or other reasons not pertaining to national security.”
We must come completely clean, show the pictures, and let the American people feel the shame of their passive agreement, the cost of the apathy, and the damnation of letting fear make policy. Only when we are brought face to face with our failure will we make sure torture will never happen again. Afterwards, we must begin to venomously prosecute the people who perpetrated internationally recognized acts of inhumanity; the people who approved it, who wrote legal briefings about it, who passed the message along, or who knew about it and did nothing to stop it.
“A small number of individuals,” as President Obama said in the same conference, is a term that is not only blatantly false but maliciously irresponsible. We cannot allow comments like “I thought it was legal” to be an acceptable excuse for a torturer or Representative, President, Senator, soldier or contractor. The expression, “I was just following orders” should fall hallow on the ears of prosecutors and juries. Relative morality will not protect our soldiers from anti-American sentiment because it is the breath the terrorists breathe.
Only when we cull the corrupt gangrene from our government and military will we begin to restore our reputation in the world. Anything less is passive agreement and letting fear dictate policy; a new car on the same road.
If President Obama does not reverse course, his actions will disgrace our soldiers. To stand strong and prosecute torturers, come forward and show dignity through honesty is to make their oath meaningful, powerful and substantial. Obama’s choice to willfully cover up the crimes of the Bush Administration, call for the suppression of evidence to the press, does not live up to his oath to protect the constitution by ignoring his duty to comply with the press clause of the first amendment.
Let us not let the Bush Administration’s attack on our rights spill into another presidency. Clamor, cry and call out to Obama to live up to his promise of change.
What can you do?
Write, call, or email the President and let him know how you feel.The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500