Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Something Patriotic Someone Else Said

"According to the latest polls, two-thirds of the American public believes that torturing suspected terrorists to gain important information is justified in some circumstances. How did we transform from champions of human dignity and individual rights into a nation of armchair torturers? One word: fear.

Fear is blinding, hateful, and vengeful. It makes the end justify the means. And why not? If torture can stop the next terrorist attack, the next suicide bomber, then what's wrong with a little waterboarding or electric shock?

The simple answer is the rule of law. Our Constitution defines the rules that guide our nation. It was drafted by those who looked around the world of the eighteenth century and saw persecution, torture, and other crimes against humanity and believed that America could be better than that. This new nation would recognize that every individual has an inherent right to personal dignity, to justice, to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.

We have preached these values to the world. We have made clear that there are certain lines Americans will not cross because we respect the dignity of every human being. That pledge was written into the oath of office given to every president, "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution." It's what is supposed to make our leaders different from every tyrant, dictator, or despot. We are sworn to govern by the rule of law, not by brute force.

We cannot simply suspend these beliefs in the name of national security. Those who support torture may believe that we can abuse captives in certain select circumstances and still be true to our values. But that is a false compromise. We either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don't. There is no middle ground.

We cannot and we must not use torture under any circumstances. We are better than that." -Leon E. Panetta, President-Elect Barack Obama's choice as the new Director of the CIA



Laura Lee - Grace Explosion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Van Zan said...

During the primaries someone on Obama's team released a comment about Hillary that was not clean politics.

Obama didn't know about it, was angry, and called in his staff when he found out. He said (I'm paraphrasing here):
" I do not want you to protect me. Everyone here look into my eye: No going off and doing stuff without my knowledge just so there is plausible deniability later ".

That gives me strong hope that, for once, we will have a president who doesn't stand for one thing - while his administration goes off and does another.

JBW said...

VZ, I've never heard that particular story before but it's exactly the vibe I get when I listen to the man speak and when I hear other people who know him speak about him. I can't say this for sure because I've never met him and also because I'm extremely out of practice recognizing it in American politicians but what I think I discern about the man is integrity.

Not to intimate that Obama's a saint or anything like that (he may well still disappoint me and I'm very wary at this point of being disappointed) but merely that he appears to be an evolutionary leap in politics from the last administration. Responsible politics, rational politics, accountable politics. But as I said, we'll soon see.

JoeBama "Truth 101" Kelly said...

Obama is the real deal. And yes, I have met him. I also worked with two of his staff when he ran for senate. The man runs a tight ship and doesn't tolerate deviation or bullshit.

JBW said...

T101, I'm very jealous but quite happy to hear you say that. It's nice having some hope for once in a long while.