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Posted by on May 15, 2009 in At TMV | 6 comments

Is The Torture Debate Over Bar The Shouting?


One of the Abu Ghraib photos that Obama wants to withhold.



I have come around to the view that partisanship, as it has been with so many things, will be the death of a genuine debate on torture and the actions that must flow from it. The ability to conduct such a debate is a hallmark of a healthy and vigorous democracy, but America’s is neither at this juncture.

Most of the blame for that rests with the Bush administration and inextricably leads to why Barack Obama, whose advocacy for changing the culture of Washington through transparency and openness helped propel him to the presidency, has gone soft on the torture issue, notably his refusal to sanction a 9/11-type commission or other investigative body, as well as hewing to the discredited Bush line in some other instances.

Perhaps Obama the candidate was playing his liberal base for fools. But what I believe has happened is that Obama the president understands that repairing the damage he inherited from his predecessor is more important than holding administration bigs accountable at the present time. This is because to do otherwise would drive partisan rancor to deafening levels and threaten his enormously ambitious — and vitally necessary — policy agenda.

While conservatives specifically and Republicans generally share much of the responsibility for this rancor, the hands of liberals and Democrats are anything but clean, just not blood soaked as are those of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzalez and loyalists who professed to love America but instead did it incalculable harm.

Please click here to read a roundup of voices in the torture debate.