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An Honor Guard Comes Out for Obama’s Ban on Torture

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Robbien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 01:59 PM
Original message
An Honor Guard Comes Out for Obama’s Ban on Torture
Source: NYT

On Thursday morning, the president’s wooden desk gleamed, bare except for a dark portfolio opened to two sheets of paper. Barack Obama glanced down and signed his name.

“There we go,” Mr. Obama said.

From about five feet away, James P. Cullen applauded, one among the crowd of people around the president who had spent most of the last four years working toward that precise moment.

Mr. Obama had just issued the first in a series of executive orders to close secret prisons operated by the C.I.A., shut down the Guantánamo Bay detention camp and declare that the United States would not use torture in pursuit of intelligence.

Other than Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the faces in the Oval Office on Thursday morning were not well known. But none of them were likely to be hit with attacks that they were soft on terrorists. Mr. Obama was surrounded by retired admirals and generals who came forward only after they had shaken off the reticence of most military people toward active politics.

“Our message,” Mr. Cullen said on Friday, “is that we are your flank protection.”

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/24/nyregion/24about.html...




:)

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klook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:06 PM
Response to Original message
1. I like the sound of this guy Cullen.
Quote from the article:
Their purpose was to show that following humane procedures would not weaken the country’s defense, he said, but strengthen it. They spoke about the example of the ticking time bomb — that a suspected terrorist could be tortured to save lives.

“It’s a false question from a classroom and from television shows like ‘24,’ ” General Cullen said, because an actual terrorist could steer his interrogators wrong, or because people under intense pressure will say anything to make it stop. “Another terrorist attack is going to happen. We feel certain of that. It’s not going to be because we ended torture. We will get better intelligence without it. And we keep our values.”

I am thrilled to see Obama acting quickly to reverse the Bush-Cheney stance on torture.
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alsame Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:11 PM
Response to Original message
2. I didn't recognize any of those men. But to all of them I offer
a sincere thank you.

:patriot:
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teknomanzer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:23 PM
Response to Original message
3. "...We are your flank protection."
A different way of saying "We've got your back." That's always something you want to hear from your buddies when you know your about to face down some serious opposition. Obama said we will fight the terrorists on our own terms; meaning we will not act with wanton disregard for values and ethics in pursuit of our goals. Our nation will not survive rule by tyranny because we are not bound by ethnicity, race, or religion. It is high time that America lived up to the rhetoric of being a nation of free people united by the rule of law. These flag officers understand this, and that is a damn good thing.
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SpiralHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:03 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Gigadittoes
Well put.
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Tandalayo_Scheisskopf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 05:56 PM
Response to Reply #3
13. I have a good and dear friend.
He retired from a career in the Army and the Illinois National Guard frocked a Brig. General. He spent a LOT of years and has the Bronze Star with two "V" devices. He is no wimp. He has been there, done that, gotten the tshirt and the blowjob.

When he gets going on what has happened in the last 8 years, when he opines on the use of the military during that time, and when he gets going about the torture...he makes all of us here sound like FweePeez.

This was a guy who has seen some of the hairiest action the Army has ever been in. He is a soldier's soldier.

I am not at all surprised by these guys on the President's flank. To a lot of them, the word "honor" is more than 5 letters and some points in a Scrabble game. It is real and they live it.

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Aristus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:49 PM
Response to Original message
4. Great reference to the "ticking time bomb" scenario. An article in New Yorker magazine
points out that the ticking time bomb scenario favors the person being tortured. If his captors torture him to get him to reveal the location of a bomb set to go off in one hour (or however long), he knows all he needs to do is hold out for one hour under torture, and the torturers lose. Add to that the fact that many terrorists are religious fanatics who actually WANT to be tortured as part of their martyrdom. Not to mention the fact that they could give false information to get the torture to stop, and the torturers would have gained nothing.

I'm glad we're stopping this. If we're going to call ourselves the good guys, we have to act like it...
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NewJeffCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 09:42 PM
Response to Reply #4
21. I know, I've always looked at it that way as well...
Edited on Sat Jan-24-09 09:42 PM by NewJeffCT
captors know there is a bomb set to go off in NYC.

After being subjected to torture, captive blurts out that the bomb is in Grand Central Station, set to go off at 1pm.

Bam, thousands of cops, FBI, NSA, CIA, etc converge on Grand Central Station. Tens of thousands in surrounding buildings are evacuated. The whole area is completely locked down.

Noon rolls around, BOOM, Penn Station blows up.

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Metta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:49 PM
Response to Original message
5. Mazel freaking tov, a slap in the face to Bush and his supporters.
:toast:
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:29 PM
Response to Original message
7. Great article. Didn't know there were any military people of this quality! Good for them all. n/t
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #7
15. Judi Lynn, there are many many military people of this quality. They are constrained by
their oath of service to follow orders unless those orders are illegal. These military folks are used to doing what their commanders tell them and "liking it" whether they actually like it or not. It's a necessary evil for an organization that sometimes requires the sacrifice of the few to save the many or for military personnel to blindly go into situations that you or I would certainly choose not to go into.

So, when it comes to speaking out against bad civilian policy or military policy those individuals who are steeped in military tradition are usually very reluctant to express themselves freely as you or I might. It's a double-edged sword, but it has a high purpose.

It is a tribute to the honor and courage of those military personnel who are now "covering President Obama's flank".


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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #7
16. Judi Lynn, there are many many military people of this quality. They are constrained by
their oath of service to follow orders unless those orders are illegal. These military folks are used to doing what their commanders tell them and "liking it" whether they actually like it or not. It's a necessary evil for an organization that sometimes requires the sacrifice of the few to save the many or for military personnel to blindly go into situations that you or I would certainly choose not to go into.

So, when it comes to speaking out against bad civilian policy or military policy those individuals who are steeped in military tradition are usually very reluctant to express themselves freely as you or I might. It's a double-edged sword, but it has a high purpose.

It is a tribute to the honor and courage of those military personnel who are now "covering President Obama's flank".


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RollWithIt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 07:37 PM
Response to Reply #7
19. It saddens me that you wouldn't know that there are military men of this quality....
A huge percentage of military men, particularly officers, understand that proper battlefield conduct is necessary for victory. Probably over 95%. The Bush/Cheney regime just clinged on to a terrible practice. Sadly, a select few promoted it.
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tclambert Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 10:06 PM
Response to Reply #7
22. Active military personnel are supposed to be careful what they say.
At least in public. There is a provision in military law that makes it an offense to openly criticize their superiors, or the Commander-in-Chief, as it may hurt unit morale. Ergo, many active duty personnel have to grit their teeth and live with it. Many wait until they retire to express their real feelings. Even retired military may hesitate to openly criticize a current C-in-C. Resigning in protest is possible, at a high personal cost.

It would not surprise me to find out that most of the people behind the torture did not have military backgrounds. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Gonzales don't.
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Vickers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 09:48 AM
Response to Reply #7
25. Wow.
Just....wow.

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peacetalksforall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:32 PM
Response to Original message
8. This is interesting - secret prisons
" .....just issued the first in a series of executive orders to close secret prisons operated by the C.I.A., shut down the Guantánamo Bay detention camp and declare that the United States would not use torture in pursuit of intelligence."

I thought it was just Guantanamo? Finally? Recognition of the other prisons? I am so happy.

I wonder who at the Pentagon handed Obama the list of prisons.

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Robbien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:57 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Gitmo gets all the press
but yes, closing all secret prisons have been the goal of the campaign from the beginning.

Glad to see someone else reading the fine print of the article.
:hi:
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peacetalksforall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 07:45 PM
Response to Reply #9
20. I'm going to tell others. I think it's worth it to ask the five Republican netowrks to phrase it
correctly.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:15 PM
Response to Original message
10. That policy of torture will undoubtedly have made the fate of any captured
Edited on Sat Jan-24-09 04:16 PM by Joe Chi Minh
American roops many times more cruel, so Obama's "got their backs". At least, those in the front line.
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Salviati Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 05:21 PM
Response to Original message
11. I applaud Obama, but we need to look forward...
We are a nation of laws, not men, and the only way to prevent people from breaking the law in the future is to hold those who have broken the law in the past responsible for their actions. We cannot let those who have broken our international treaty obligations to get off scot-free, unless we are willing to tolerate such actions in the future from those less scrupulous than President Obama. Holding them responsible is not an act of retribution or revenge, it is what is demanded by justice under the law, and without the law what does our nation stand on?

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Skelly Donating Member (136 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 12:49 PM
Response to Reply #11
26. I agree 100%
This is why I was so disappointed to hear President Obama tell Katie Couric that we don't need to capture or kill Bin Laden as long as he is holed up in a cave unable to communicate, then we are safe. Capturing Bin Laden is about more than being safe. It is about justice. I want to know what happened to "We will capture or kill Bin Laden" from the Presidential Debate.
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The Blue Flower Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 05:27 PM
Response to Original message
12. "Doing it on our terms"
Now there's a statement of strength. Anything else, caving in to someone else's lack of human rights, is a statement of abject weakness.
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 06:12 PM
Response to Original message
14. Good, good, good . . . !!
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Jefferson23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 07:02 PM
Response to Original message
17. Outstanding men! When I read Charlie Savage's account in " Takeover", I was struck by how
many good people behind the scenes had tried to stop this, many JAG officers really did try.
As we all know, their advice and deep concerns were ignored. Yoo and Addington were such arrogant pricks, I hope one day they pay for their crimes.
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RollWithIt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 07:34 PM
Response to Original message
18. Honor in Service means something..... I applaud our return to those values....
And I applaud President Obama's first, and I do mean first, broadside of the "torture is ok" Bush/Cheney principles.
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jeff30997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 10:25 PM
Response to Original message
23. Well I guess that now they will have to cancel "24".
I mean what are the writers of the show going to do if Jack Bauer can't solve any problem from

ticking time bombs to a bad haircut without using torture ? :)


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myrna minx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 03:34 AM
Response to Original message
24. K&R. This is an amazing first week. n/t
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ShadesOfGrey Donating Member (646 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 03:37 PM
Response to Reply #24
27. No kidding! Obama has already exceeded my expectations. k&r
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-09 07:39 AM
Response to Original message
28. These retired generals/officers are wonderful men!
It is important to praise them to the hilt, and to recognize their courage and integrity--because they have acted in such a brilliant, organized, public and effective way, on this vital issue--but it is also important to understand that they are not rare. And that is the most wonderful thing of all. It has not gotten a lot of media attention (surprise, surprise--witness this very group, whom many of us never heard of before), but there have been numerous instances of military people opposing wrongful, criminal and/or stupid policies of the Bushwhack regime, often at risk of their careers, maybe even of their lives, over the last eight years. I hope somebody who knows more about it than I do is making a list for future Medals of Honor. The military jag lawyers come to mind, who fought a long, hard, dangerous, internal battle against torture and indefinite detention. And Capt. James Yee, who suffered intense persecution, and his career was destroyed, for merely trying to bring some minimal humanitarian values to the treatment of prisoners, as chaplain at Guantanamo Bay.

I would include those who have refused to return to Iraq and/or fled to Canada, which military people might not agree with, but I am a civilian and have different standards. I rate moral courage higher than, or at least equal to, physical courage. Someone who refuses to kill in an unjust cause, and refuses to obey illegal orders, takes as much of a risk, if not a much higher risk, than someone who just obeys orders, no matter what. Many who have fled to Canada are just kids--very young soldiers--who were not avoiding conflict or danger--they signed up for it!--but who became revulsed at what they were told to do, or saw others do. Their high ethical standards, at such a young age, are our strength as a nation, not a weakness. There are also instances of experienced soldiers who have refused to go back, and taken an even harder road--turned themselves in. Which brings me to this matter of the "24" scenario, and I would like input on this...

If you were in a position of power and authority, and were faced with an excruciating dilemma--such as dramatized in "24," for instance, you know fairly certainly that a nuclear bomb is about to be detonated over Los Angeles, you have one of the terrorist planners in custody, whom you have good reason to believe knows where the bomb is, and you have very little time to do anything about it, what do you do? You may feel that you have to choose between breaking a law--torturing that prisoner--and the horrible deaths of millions of other people. It may well be that torture mostly produces useless intelligence--as many have averred--but you are out of options (or you think you are). You make your decision. You order the torture of that prisoner. In one of these "24" scenarios, as I recall, the torture in fact failed to produce the location of the bomb and the bomb went off (and millions were killed). But whatever the outcome of your decision, if you have committed an illegal act to save millions of people, in my opinion the standard should be that you admit it, afterward, and take the consequences. You go public. You throw yourself on the mercy of the people and the legal system. You admit the crime, and you go to jail, if that is the legal judgement of your action. Thus, the rule of laws and not men is upheld. Thus, democracy and the Constitution, are upheld and revered. Thus, order is restored. You sacrifice yourself to the rule of law. If you are a brave and patriotic citizen, that is what you do--even if the judgement against you is wrong, in your opinion.

Possibly you will be forgiven, and the consequences of your illegal act waived. Possibly you will get amnesty, or never be prosecuted. You don't know. The important thing is that you reveal your action publicly, explain yourself and take the consequences, whatever they are. And thus, the dilemma of "our safety versus our values"--as President Obama put it, in his inauguration speech--is resolved.

There is the law. And there is you and your judgement of the situation. If the situation is that dire, with that much at stake, it is a rare and inhuman situation, with pressures almost beyond the ability of human beings to endure. You throw the dice, and you take what fate has to deal out. You do not shrink from the consequences. You uphold and honor the law, so that order can be restored and the greatest good achieved.

What the Bush regime created, instead, was a highly dishonorable and disordered rampant disregard for the law, in secret, using every means to avoid the legal consequences of their actions, with, at best, dubious motives for their actions (and orders), and, at worst...well, we don't know. What were the real purposes of widespread torture and indefinite detention, of general roundups of people, many of them innocent of any offense, and including children? God knows. The "24 scenario is no apologia for what these cowardly men-in-suits did. If what they did was justified, where are the records of those facts and those decisions? There are no records at Guantanamo Bay. Either they have been destroyed, or they kept no records. They have thus removed themselves entirely from the rule of law, and order cannot be restored. If "keeping us safe" is what they were doing--and I have great doubts about that--then restoration of the rule of law--the highest value that we hold, because the rule of law IS safety, in most circumstances--should be of the highest importance to honorable public servants and truly patriotic leaders.

And there is an even greater problem, for us as a society. In understanding the "24" dilemma, we come up against an "Iron Curtain" of secrecy that has clouded our government for a very long time. Dreadful crimes have been committed under this dark cloud, most of them unjustified and very much not in our interest, as a people, but certainly in the interest of war profiteers and big corporations. I rather liked and approved of "24" because it turned this secret government inside out, and spilled its guts on nationwide TV. (And was a rather riveting drama as well--especially the first season; after that, the constant adrenalin rush became a bit tiresome--and the "blondes in peril" episodes were really tiresome.) It wasn't a very politically conscious show. Its targets were wide of the mark, as to the fascist/corporate greed devils behind most of our troubles. But it did reveal the treachery, treason and miasma of illegality and criminality lurking behind our apparent democracy. It was rather like a serious "Men In Black": The unaccountable men and their secret government vs. all of the rest of us (contemptuously described as "civilians"). "Men in Black" is the hilarious version of it. "24" is the version for those without a sense of humor.

If you knew, for certain (as Will Smith learns, in "Men in Black") that extraterrestrial people, aliens, were using Earth as a "way station," and fighting a war amongst themselves that gravely imperiled humanity, would you join a secret organization of powerful men, and commit all sorts of extra-legal actions, to keep Earth from getting blown up? (God, it is funny!) What hath the CIA wrought, behind our backs? What have they been up to? The reality of that is not funny. And it has led straight to the horrors of Guantanamo Bay and the secret U.S./Bushwhack prisons around the world.
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