Running scared

Political consequences should not prevent the release of Bush’s torture memos.

President Barack Obama recently caused something of a stir among congressional Republicans. Unlike the âÄúsmall-governmentâÄù sanctimony popular among the GOP caucus since ObamaâÄôs inauguration, the stance they struck was a genuine articulation of terror that bristled like the hackles of a cornered wolf. Facing the threat of an official release of Bush-era legal memos that gave an executive thumbs-up to torture, Republicans threatened to âÄúgo nuclearâÄú on Obama administration nominees, specifically targeting those up for the Office of Legal Counsel and State Department legal counsel. In response, Obama hastily stopped the forward progress of the release, a sharp and politically shrewd decision. But this is not a political game to be won by either party; this is nothing less than conspiring to conceal the truth about a serious offense to human dignity and a flippant dismissal of civil society. Critics of ObamaâÄôs attempted gesture of transparency âÄî people who therefore support criminal human abuse and obfuscation by the federal government âÄî argue that this plan would reveal too much. Newsweek reported that CIA officials claimed the leak of memos would reveal agency techniques and embarrass countries that participated in the extraordinary renditions that swept foreign nationals into secret torture chambers around the world. But these points are moot, because the secret is already out and the guilty parties exposed. The only things that havenâÄôt yet surfaced are the documents that would allow justice to be done. The spirit of liberty and justice compels the exposure of participants, foreign and domestic, of this international torture cartel, and it is unconscionable that our politicians are using these documents to gain political leverage. These memos were drafted under the fantasy of protecting Americans, but right now, the only Americans being protected are the cowards who penned them and refuse to be held accountable for their crimes.