Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A.

Obama on Torture

Just days ago President Obama released the memorandums of law written by attorneys in the Justice Department that in affect authorize and sanctioned torture by the CIA of enemy combatants.  Shortly after their release, President Obama directed that those persons in the CIA that were involved in the interrogation process “i.e. torture” would not be prosecuted as not only were they following orders but they had been given legal opinion that stated what they were doing was not against the law.

On one hand, this position by the Obama Administration seems quite fair.  Why should those CIA Operatives who were just following orders and who had been give legal opinion that their actions were lawful, not be allow to rely on those opinions and advise? Would it be fair to prosecute these CIA employees after their actions were sanctioned by the highest levels of our government?  As said above, on one hand the resounding answer is no. 

On the other hand, for decades, for centuries, and possibly for the history of mankind those people that have committed atrocities have always used the defense of “I was just following orders”, as a shield to their behavior.  That defense has not insulated many as the world takes an opinion or at least the civilized world takes the opinion that every man is responsible for his own actions and that every man should have the courage to refuse to do action that are inherently and morally wrong.  In fact, as a country we have not allowed that defense to stand for other people from other countries accused of war crimes.  Therefore, based upon this logic those CIA Operatives should not be give immunity from prosecution.

But more importantly than prosecuting those who carried out these acts of torture would be the prosecution of those that ordered it and gave legal cover to it.  However, again, President Obama has signaled that he has no thirst for these prosecutions.  In effect, giving those that should have known better, that did know better, that twisted logic, that twisted law, a pass on their illegal behavior both under the United States laws and International law.

The giving of immunity or acquiescence to those that carried out those heinous acts of torture as said above is understandable, however the giving of a pardon, immunity, or pass to those who are ultimately responsible for these acts is not.  We have always held ourselves as being the paragon of virtue in this world.  We have always held ourselves as being the one country where justice is the rule of law and not who you know or how powerful you are.  Yet, in front of the entire world who now knows that this country took part in torture, our desire to do nothing to right this wrong puts us in the same league as all those other countries that we have blasted due to their lack of human rights.

President Obama speaks about looking to the future and not to the past. The past will repeat itself unless the future prevents it.  Giving the Bush Administration a get out of jail free card for their behavior only will mean that in the future some other administration will do these dastardly acts themselves.  We as American people have always stood up for justice.  We the American people have always stated justice is blind.  Yet, by the Obama Administration turning a blind eye to the past all we have is blindness but no justice.  This country did wrong in the name of a good cause “the fight on terrorism”.  This country did wrong and not only should we acknowledge it as President Obama has.  But to show the world that we are better than the rest we cannot sweep it under the table but must prosecute those who are responsible for demeaning what it means to be an American. 

No discussion about what the Bush Administration did as far as terrorism and the torturing that it did to reveal terrorist plots can be had without the realization that torture by large must not work.  For example: Khalid Shak Mohammed reportedly was water boarded 180 times in one month.  That averages out as 6 acts of torture a day against him.  If torture worked so well and almost any civilized person has concluded that water boarding is torture than why was there a need to torture him 6 times a day 30 days straight.  If torture worked he would have confessed to all the he knew on the first round, maybe the second round certainly by the third round of torture.  If it takes 180 round of torture to get all the information, then obviously torture is not a successful tool. 

From a national security standpoint, more importantly, from all reports quiet early in the water boarding process of Khalid Shak Mohammed it was believed by the CIA Operatives that were conducting said torture that he had given up all the useful information that he had.  Those CIA employees apparently believed there was nothing left to get but were instructed to get more.  Those same CIA employees now seem to be saying in unison that the information that they received later on during the multiple acts of torture, were fabricated, useless and only imparted to them as a means to have the torture being stopped and not because of their accuracy. 

If torture works then Khalid Shak Mohammed would have revealed his information quite quickly into the process and therefore the real justification for his continued torture was just about cruelty and punishment and a pound of flesh by our administration.  If it truly takes 180 acts of torture to get out useful information then torture obviously does not work.  Therefore, under either scenario the 180 acts of torture that we committed on Khalid Shak Mohammed was either not necessary; unfruitful; or pure punishment in contravention to any civilized society.

President Obama please change your decisions.  Do not prosecute the CIA Operatives who were only following orders but more importantly prosecute those who gave the order and who gave legal justification for those orders.   Let the process work out.  Let us find out whether torture truly works, why was it used so often, and what exactly occurred by members of an administration who were supposed to be the guardians not only of the safety of this country, but the Constitution of this country, its moral and its soul.

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