Obama Vows: No Torture



If there are any issues on which Obama was any better than the Republicans, the twin issues of torture and detention policy might fit the bill. He voted against the Military Commissions Act and he always decried torture.

He stands by it now: “I was clear throughout this campaign and was clear throughout this transition that under my administration the United States does not torture. We will abide by the Geneva Conventions. We will uphold our highest ideals.”

Can we trust his word? I’m not so sure. Bush often claimed to abide by the Geneva Conventions. John McCain always claimed to oppose torture, even as he voted for and supported most of Bush’s torture policy. While Obama might be a bit better, if he supports the continued open-ended detention of terror suspects and enemy aliens, in effect he will not be much of an improvement on this issue. Furthermore, anyone who supports modern war, including the bombing of civilians by the thousands, can be said to support a form of torture. The logic and the end result are the same: Innocent people put through excruciating physical and psychological trauma for the sake of an illusory greater good of “national security.”

I will keep my eyes on the Obama administration and the torture regime. I haven’t given up the possibility he will be a marginal improvement over Bush, but I would not count on it.

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