Obama Misunderstands Res Judicata

>> Thursday, April 23, 2009

I understand these are not exactly the words of Obama but if this is his thought process hes making a serious mistake.

Obama apparently believed he could avoid what is now happening. In the weeks during which he was weighing the release of the torture memos, there was a vigorous debate within his administration. There was, according to a senior official, considerable support among Obama's advisers for the creation of a 9-11 Commission-style investigation as an alternative to releasing the Justice Department memos. But Obama quashed it.

"His concern was that would ratchet the whole thing up," the official said. "His whole thing is, I banned all this. This chapter is over. What we don't need now is to become a sort of feeding frenzy where we go back and re-litigate all this."

Obama knew he could not stop Congress from doing whatever lawmakers decided to do but he was reluctant to give a presidential imprimatur to a national commission that would keep the controversy alive for months and months and months. Obama had his own agenda and wanted to move on. Putting out the memos was the cleanest way to accomplish his goal.

The problem is that Obama's decree that we wont do this anymore is not a final judgment that brings with it res judicata. He is not the judge in a bench trial between torturer advocates and opponents. A truth commission isnt relitigation of this issue because--the issue hasnt been litigated the first time. The issue is not, did we do this or does this work but how to stop it from happening again in the future and how do we clean up America's moral perception.

Obama can ban the use of these techniques now and during his term but just as he was able to reverse Bush the next person can reverse him. By trying to consider this case closed Obama has not put in place meaningful consequences for someone who tries to repeat this in the future. Augment the inducement to comply with the substantive law mr president. Prosecute those responsible for not only authorizing but also carrying out the policy. This needs to be done because the media framing and the general discussion still doesnt carry the message that TORTURE IS A HEINOUS ACT! from the dan balz article,

There was also a practical rationale for the White House to release the memos, according to officials. Much of the information contained in them was already in the public domain, in large part through an article in the New York Review of Books. Arguments that the release of the memos would compromise national security by providing a roadmap for enemies on U.S. interrogation techniques seemed less compelling given that the information was already publicly available.

see the problem here? the justification balz advances is that the techniques can now be trained against so letting everyone know about them doesnt matter. umm we arent supposed to be using them now or ever so the fact that al-qaeda or any one else reads about them is totally irrelevant. President Obama needs to do his job and ensure that in the future people recognize this for the seriousness that it has because right now it lacks the feeling of gravitas.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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