America Needs Proof

This is particularly sad and pointless:

The Defense Department was set to release hundreds of photographs
showing alleged abuse of prisoners in detention facilities in
Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I want to emphasize that these photos
that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational,
especially when compared to the images we remember from Abu Ghraib,”
the president said on the South Lawn of the White House. “But they do
represent conduct that didn’t conform with the Army manual.”

Obama said the publication of the photos would not add any additional
benefit to investigations being carried out into detainee abuse — and
could put future inquires at risk.

“In fact, the most direct
consequence of releasing them, I believe, would further flame
anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger. … I
fear the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on
future investigations of detainee abuse,” Obama said.

I’ll say to this president what I would have said to the last one. Do you really think they don’t know what we’re doing? I’ll grant you they haven’t seen images, not the new ones, anyway, but since when was proof of monstrosity ever required to turn someone, something, somewhere, into a monster to frighten children? Do you really think keeping back the photos will keep back the hatred of America that power-hungry lunatics use to subvert poor and desperate people and turn them to violence? Do you really think this is going to make any difference at all?

Do you really think that, having seen proof after proof after proof in the past eight years that we are not remotely who we say we are that a bunch of new photos will be the straw that breaks it? I’m taking your argument at face value here, Mr. President, do you really believe this is how it works? That having heard there are terrible photos of terrible things, terrorists will only react and use such information if they actually see the photos released? You think this isn’t already in the recruiting brochure, that they’re holding the printing pending artwork? Seriously? Not for nothing, but if American commanders were so concerned about the consequences of images of brutality getting out, they might have worked a little harder to make sure that a) there was no brutality and b) people weren’t taking snapshots of it like they were at fucking Disneyland.

I ask this in the face of all the experts with their expert knowledge, I ask this because to a girl with a web site who doesn’t consider herself exceptionally intelligent or anything this is a really, really, really incredible argument to ask the American people to swallow. Maybe you’re making it in all sincerity. I don’t really care. It’s a bullshit argument and it’s insulting to all of us. I say this as someone who voted for you. I say this as someone who voted for you and fully expected to be disappointed by you, many times, and I expected to tell you so, loudly and often, because that’s how this works. In some cases you’ve done better than I would have hoped, in some cases you’ve done worse. This isn’t me saying OH WOE IS ME I WUZ BETRAYED BY DEMOCRAT SOCIALIST JESUS. This is me saying, you blew this fucking call.

Al Qaeda may not need proof of our perfidy to use our misdeeds against us; those predisposed to hate us may not need proof to be enraged. America needs proof of what’s been done because our national capacity for self-delusion has not yet reached its zenith, and until you shove something in our faces a thousand times we’re pretty damn happy to pretend it doesn’t exist. America needs proof because until we see it we don’t believe it, and we need to believe this if we’re ever to stop it from happening again. You’re not in the job of protecting people from the consequences of their country’s history, you’re in the business of serving this country, and we need to see what happened. Do you really think the Taliban are the ones that need the proof?


10 thoughts on “America Needs Proof

  1. This was not just wrong, it was a graceless blunder. This admin has previously illustrated they don’t think the American people are stupid, yet they pre-empt our access to the photos AND explain it by 1)using a Bushism and 2) saying the photos don’t add to our understanding of torture.
    Do not tell me what does and does not add to my own damn understanding. You want to make a political blunder, go ahead on, but do not treat me like I’m stupid and don’t know what you’re doing.

  2. One reason that crop of likely war criminals haven’t been persued by the legal system is because we haven’t seen enough. We need to see the photos, and we need to rub the faces of everyone who was involved and everyone who is trying to cover those crimes up in them. Otherwise, we will have Rush Limbaugh setting the nation’s legal agenda by contending the torture was little more than college hazing.
    For instance, sleep deprivation doesn’t sound too bad (what’s a little lost sleep, after all?) until you realize they hung the poor bastards’ shackles from hooks in the ceiling and let them dangle there to keep them awake.
    These were violent and depraved crimes that, as far as we know, may still being committed. Sure, Obama says “We do not torture.” Bush said the same thing. We have no way of knowing the truth of it, and until someone, or some group of someones is actually investigated, prosecuted, convicted, and jailed there will be no incentive for anyone in the U.S. government to actually obey the law.
    And you can make a sure bet that if the GOP ever gets back into power, the old regime of torture and illegal searches and surveillance will be back in spades if no one pays any price for what was done during the last eight years. Hell, some did pay a price during Iran-Contra and they STILL came back to pollute the political process and the nation’s laws and morality.
    I’m sure the Obama Administration realizes that if another batch of horrifying photos is released, the pressure to prosecute war criminals will escalate, possibly to a level where they will no longer be able to ignore the problem–which is what they strongly prefer to do. Personally, I think we need to investigate and prosecute everyone from the lowliest grunt to the President if they were involved in torture. Then we can let the judicial system weigh extenuating circumstances to figure out who does the hard time.

  3. I suppose that barring the release of these photos terrorist groups could just, you know, take their own pictures of the maimed and the dead in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan; remind people that by Obama’s second anniversary in office, Americans will have been in Afghanistan for as long as the Soviets were there (and it looks like we’re going to have them beat in spades for overstaying our welcome); remind them of the millions of refugees — both internal and external — from Bush’s invasion of Iraq; the destruction of Fallujah, the Golden Mosque, and half of Baghdad; the increasing numbers of drone attacks on the “AfPak” border; the results of the Pakistani army’s campaign against the Taliban; the US helicopters and attack planes constantly flying overhead; and whatever else comes to mind when they step outside their doors.

  4. This isn’t about knowing enough. This is about needing to rub our noses in our own mess so we don’t ever, ever, ever, ever fuck up like this again.
    Release the damn pictures. Release all of it, every last pixel, every last character, every last punctuation mark. Release it all so we can say to future generations, “Hey! This is how the fuck NOT to do it!”
    Otherwise, future generations are going to look at this era and say, “Meh, it wasn’t so bad, was it?”

  5. To ask the obvious dumb question: From the fact that the unseen pictures would be so inflammatory, should I assume that they are really, really bad? Much worse than what has already been released?

  6. This is so fucked up, Mr. President, I don’t even know the words for it.
    I am ashamed of you.

  7. This is pretty much what I expected from Obama. I knew he would make me somewhat happy with domestic policy and be more of the same when it comes to foreign matters.
    BTW, when does the 18 months until we leave Iraq start anyway? Now? His next term?
    Obama = LBJ Version 2.0

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