Saturday, February 28, 2009

Same as the Old Boss?

Two full days ago, the following appeared in the Wall Street Journal (emphasis mine):
CIA Director Leon Panetta, in his first meeting with reporters, said the agency will continue to carry out drone attacks on militants in Pakistan. He also said that while CIA interrogations will have new limits, President Barack Obama can still use his wartime powers to authorize harsher techniques if necessary.
Is he saying that the President’s powers as Commander-in-Chief under Article II give him the power to override the law of the land, which includes our treaty obligations such as the Convention Against Torture? I thought we got rid of the people who told us that last election.

Then this is somewhat comforting…
The main change Mr. Panetta has planned, he said, is to establish "a clear set of ground rules" for interrogations and detainee treatment that are "in line with our ideals."
But you have to wonder what he could possibly mean by that, because the big slap in the face is yet to come:
On interrogations, Mr. Panetta said he believes the CIA can be effective if it limits itself to the 19 techniques the military is allowed to use. He said the administration is evaluating the effectiveness of so-called enhanced interrogation tactics such as waterboarding and will make recommendations to the president on what techniques should be allowed. In the interim, only the 19 techniques will be used.
Leon Panetta, head of the Agency that was given leeway to torture during the Bush administration, is now saying that waterboarding not only would be legal but is under active consideration?

I believe profoundly in President’s Obama’s governing project. In the joint address to Congress he said:
And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture.
Did he just mean right now? It should be the position of this administration that neither the President nor anyone in his administration has the authority to order torture; that it is already illegal and illegitimate.

What I find a little surreal is the almost perfect silence in the blogosphere about this. Glenn Greenwald? Nothing. Andrew Sullivan? Nothing. Josh Marshall? Nothing. Atrios? Nothing. All the powderkegs of outrage are suddenly powderpuffs of indifference.

The Director of Central Intelligence has just told us that torture is an option… we’re just not choosing to exercise it right now. We are one election away from a torture regime again, and they will be able to say "not only did Bush say we have the right to torture, but Obama agreed." It seems like our national shame is not over.

No comments: