Obama: “We Tortured Some Folks”
By Dennis Loo (8/2/14)
Yesterday Obama admitted that the US government “tortured some folks.” Obama’s comments are sparking alarm among reactionaries and praise from liberals that he’s admitted what virtually the whole world already knows.
As Amanda Carpenter, Ted Cruz’s speechwriter, for example, tweeted:
I am stunned our President just said "we tortured" people from the podium. This is a PR victory for our enemies. Make it stop. Make it stop.
— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) August 1, 2014
What Ms. Carpenter wants stopped is not torture but the POTUS admitting the US government tortures, or at least, as Obama put it, in the past tense, “tortured.”
It would probably have caused people such as dear Amanda Carpenter a stroke if POTUS admitted that the USG is still torturing people!
Obama is saying this in response to the upcoming release of a redacted version of the US Senate’s Intelligence Committee’s report revealing that the CIA’s claims that torture saved lives are utter bullshit.
The US government is in a bind because of infighting within its own bureaucratic ranks and the hoary reality of their torture policies, past and present. Because they have to try to preserve the fig leaf of lawfulness, they have had to conceal and disguise what they’ve been doing, calling it “enhanced interrogation” and other euphemisms, even as they have been steadily making the immoral case that they must do some “harsh” things in the name of “protecting American lives” – i.e., anything “we” do to protect Americans, including torturing and murdering non-Americans (and “traitorous” Americans) is justified and the height of patriotism.
The impending release of the Senate Intell Committee’s report makes it necessary now for Obama to choose between being exposed for censoring this report, which he has been doing his best to keep under wraps, and having to finally admit that “we tortured some folks.” In his remarks he carefully justifies this:
"We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened. I think it's important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell, and the Pentagon had been hit, and a plane in Pennsylvania had fallen and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this."
Contrary to POTUS’s “contrary,” these torture and assassination policies, and they are policies, not errors, are not at odds with “our values.” They are at odds with most of Americans’ values but they are right in line with the values of Empire: torture and kill because otherwise you won’t be able to keep, expand, and preserve US plunder over the rest of the world.
For background on this, see this.
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[F]ree market fundamentalism - also known as neoliberalism - makes us not more secure or prosperous: it tears the social fabric and undermines security, leading inevitably to disasters on the individual, regional, and global levels.
Neoliberalism is based on the mantra that market forces should run everything. It aims to eliminate job and income security, the social safety net (including welfare and other social guarantees), unions, pensions, public services, and the governmental regulation of corporations. It consequently undermines the basis for people to voluntarily cooperate with authority as almost everyone is increasingly left by themselves to face gargantuan private interests, with governmental and corporate authority ever more indifferent to the public’s welfare.
Those in charge of our collective fates in government and business personify a heartless system based on profit and plunder. They have been relentlessly instituting profoundly immoral and unjust policies even while they insist that they are doing the opposite. We, on the other hand, stand for and are fighting for a radically different system and set of values than this.
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Defeating the empire is not something that occurs only on the literal battlefield. It is also something that is determined throughout the continuum of battles over many issues, including: ideas; philosophy; forms of organization and leadership in economy, politics, and other realms; ways of arguing; ways of responding to and respecting empirical data; interest in truth as opposed to expedience; how people and the environment should be treated; the nature of relations among people (e.g., between women and men, different races and ethnicities, rich and poor countries, etc.); ways of responding to criticism and ideas that are not your own; ways of handling one’s own errors and those of others; and more, all the way up through how warfare is carried out. The contrast between the methods and goals of the neoliberals and those of us who seek an entirely different world is stark. (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Pp. 326-7)