Today, the Obama administration released the controversial "torture memos" -- or legal documents prepared by Department of Justice attorneys that justify the use of torture by United States interrogators. This issue created domestic and international outrage during the Bush administration, and it caused many self-identified progressives in the Democratic Party to align with Obama over Hillary Clinton during the primaries.
Obama, progressives argued, would dramatically improve the image of the United States in the "world community" because he would implement their understanding of civil liberty, which includes vigorous opposition to governmental secrecy, the abolition of torture, extension of habeas rights to all terrorism detainees, an absolute prohibition of indefinite detention, and opposition to rendition. Obama, however, has failed to meet the expectations of civil libertarians on most of these issues.
Today, President Obama made new statements regarding the potential prosecution of Bush-era officials, which will likely generate additional criticism among progressives. President Obama's comments reiterate his stance disfavoring the prosecution of Bush administration officials. An Associated Press article analyzes Obama's new statements opposing prosecution. Here is a clip from that article:
President Barack Obama absolved CIA officers from prosecution for harsh, painful interrogation of terror suspects Thursday, even as his administration released Bush-era memos graphically detailing — and authorizing — such grim tactics as slamming detainees against walls, waterboarding them and keeping them naked and cold for long periods.Although civil liberties advocates believe President Obama should not have absolved Bush administration officials, the President argues that:
Human rights groups and many Obama officials have condemned such methods as torture. Bush officials have vigorously disagreed.
In releasing the documents, the most comprehensive accounting yet of interrogation methods that were among the Bush administrations most closely guarded secrets, Obama said he wanted to move beyond "a dark and painful chapter in our history. . . ."
"Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."Attorney General Eric Holder made similar comments:
"It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department. . . ."Holder also said that the government would provide legal counsel for Bush-era officials who face legal proceedings (either before a court or Congress) related to the issue of torture. Holder also stated that the government would pay for any monetary judgments against these officials.
With all of these dramatic "changes" going on in the nation, I have decided to re-post a "blast from the past": Progressives Awaken from Obama-Vegetative State.