According to Sullivan, Obama = Bush now:
In what can only be seen as a stunning reversal, the president is now refusing to release photographs that would help prove that the abuse and torture techniques revealed at Abu Ghraib were endemic in the Bush military. [...]
Slowly but surely, Obama is owning the cover-up of his predcessors’ war crimes. But covering up war crimes, refusing to proscute them, promoting those associated with them, and suppressing evidence of them are themselves violations of Geneva and the UN Convention. So Cheney begins to successfully coopt his successor.
I’m actually feeling pretty meh about this. It’s not like we don’t know what happened. We tortured people. A lot. In a lot of places. I don’t really see how releasing these photos really changes any of that, other than producing shock value. To me, this isn’t really value-added, considering what the cost might be. Sullivan responds to this with a purely principled argument, ignoring context, which is what I would expect from a conservative:
The reason is pretty simple. Without photos, we would never have heard of the mass abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib. Bush and Cheney would be denying today that any of it happened at all. When the photos were uncovered, revealing clearly what the anodyne words “stress position”, “mock execution”, “forced nudity” etc actually meant, we finally were able to hold the government accountable for the abuse it authorized.
Of course, they lied to us and to the Congress about this, declaring that these techniques, meticulously crafted in Washington, had been improvised by a few “bad apples” on the night shift whom the Weekly Standard believed should be jailed or executed (that was before they discovered that their friends were deeply implicated).
We now know that these Abu Ghraib techniques were imported from Gitmo and were used in every theater of war as Cheney constructed a secret war machine that used the capture, torture and abuse of prisoners as its central intelligence-gathering tool. But we only have the photos from Abu Ghraib and so people can continue to pull a Noonan and pretend that this didn’t happen no a much wider scale. From my understanding, the photos would prove very similar techniques spread across the globe. And so it would be clear that any Muslim anywhere, upon seeing US troops, could be Abu Ghraibed. The photos would reveal more powerfully than the impressive documentation in countless reports that Bush and Cheney’s torture and abuse machine was everywhere, in every theater.
His argument is basically that, had we not known what we already know, we’d learn a lot. And, even though we already know what these benign terms actually mean, these photos would re-affirm what we already know. And also we’d know that we tortured people in Afghanistan, which we already knew.
Now let’s examine the cons. People in the Middle East get to see photos of us torturing Arabs 24/7 for about 2 weeks.
The way I see it, there’s no gain, and a lot of cost by revealing these photos. And while I’m generally a “consequences be damned” type when it comes to transparency, I just don’t see the value here. It’s not like the Administration is denying what’s in the photos, or denying that we tortured people.
I’m not going to get bent out of shape over this one.Read More