Dennis Loo

Sometimes asking for the impossible is the only realistic path

Dennis Loo

Dennis Loo
Los Angeles, California,
December 31
Professor of Sociology
Cal Poly Pomona
Author of Globalization and the Demolition of Society; Co-Editor/Author of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, World Can't Wait Steering Committee Member, co-author of "Crimes Are Crimes, No Matter Who Does Them" statement, dog and fruit tree lover. Published poet. Winner of the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award, Project Censored Award and the Nation Magazine's Most Valuable Campaign Award. Punahou and Harvard Honor Graduate. Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz. An archive of close to 500 postings of mine can be found at my blogspot blog, Dennis Loo, link below. I publish regularly at, (link below) and also at OpEd News and sometimes at Counterpunch.

MAY 22, 2009 1:44PM

Senate Votes to Block Release of Photos for 5 Years

Rate: 22 Flag


CNN reported yesterday

"The Senate late Thursday easily passed a $91 billion spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After stripping it of funds to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and placing restrictions on the transfer of its detainees, the bill was adopted 86 to 3.

"The Senate included an amendment to prevent the public release of photographs that reportedly document the mistreatment of post-Sept. 11 detainees in U.S. custody.

"The language is aimed at preventing a court from ordering their release in response to a freedom of information lawsuit.


"The measure was sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and Sen. Lindsay Graham, a South Carolina Republican, who said releasing the inflammatory photos would stoke resentment against the U.S. It blocks the photos' release for five years and gives the Secretary of Defense the ability to keep them under wraps longer."

(Sen. Graham, by the way, on May 13 actually explicitly cited the Spanish Inquisition approvingly on the grounds that it worked!)


What this news means is that the Democratic controlled Senate, right after denying funds to close Gitmo, has now approved $91 billion for carrying forward the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and is blocking release of the extremely incriminating evidence of the US policy of torturing prisoners for at least five years. 

President Obama, while standing in front of the Constitution, follows up his reversal on the photos release by announcing yesterday that he will develop a "legal" framework for indefinite detentions of suspects, reversing his campaign rhetoric that habeas corpus is "a foundation of Anglo-American law."

The film Minority Report has now been converted from movie to reality and Obama, Constitutional lawyer, declares to the whole world that the US is not going to abide by its own official and putatively sacred principles.

We will commit torture, then try to hide it.

We will commit torture, and excuse the torturers.

We will violate core legal principles, and instead of rectifying it, fabricate a legal fig leaf around it:

"That's why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. ...We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.  ...our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for the remaining Guantanamo detainees that cannot be transferred. Our goal is not to avoid a legitimate legal framework.  In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so, going forward, my administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution." 

The oversight that Obama is advocating here is a replay of the "oversight" that the Democrats under Pelosi carried out over Bush's monstrous transgressions. "Tell me what you're doing (or at least most of what you're doing), and I promise I won't say anything, no matter how illegal and how egregious."

The Supreme Court, even with its conservative majority, has already ruled repeatedly that indefinite detention is illegal.  

We see in Obama's speech a clear expression of his particular way of governing: carry forward the previous policies but do so with a show of doing so under color of law. Do what was being done before, but make it look as if you care about justice and about people.

These actions by Obama and Congress aren't fooling the world. The world knows what's been going on.

Our government's actions are designed to try to fool the American people. And it's the American people who need to speak out against these appalling moves. What will the world see? Are we that easily fooled?

May 28th is a national day of protest against torture as a war crime and to demand the release of the photos. If there is to be any truth and reconciliation or truth and consequences, then the truth has to come out.

Otherwise, it's just fraud and deceit. 


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Thanks BBE. Congrats on getting cover story for your piece. I dugg and reddit/commented. You might, if you haven't already, check out the comments at reddit.
Good post, Dennis. Rated and Dugg.

Excellent Dennis. Transparency my ass. I voted for Obama to stop this shit. If he's going to be another Bush, why even have an election?
Good work. So glad you got on top of it. I dugg it.
Thanks Monte, scanner, Jill. Scanner: the reason we have elections in this country is to perpetuate the illusion that the people are in charge of public policy and to justify the decisions that they intend to implement irrespective of what the people want.
Rated and Dugg. Yesterday was a massive mind fuck.
The Profesor ALWAYS speaks to realities, despite the bat-sh*t crazies who wish to defame him and distort his words.

BBE said: "I've been following the comments at reddit. Over 400 now. Just wish more people there were aware what constitutes a war, a combatant and a POW.

I would add that it wouldn't hurt if more than a few here did likewise.

George Carlin thinks likewise:

You know, it's funny Mark. I sometimes think about all of the energy and interest that goes into people who can cite you chapter and verse about so and so's baseball stats or b-ball stats, or the plot twists and turns of some reality show or sit-com and yet are content with the most superficial understanding of politics. Wish they'd invest their energies more wisely. Don't have a problem with people knowing all that other stuff, but would like to see them devote some more of that kind of energy and sophistication to affairs that matter so much more.
Unfortunately I know more than a few like that, here - they use reality shows and sports/entertainment as a subterfuge to block out the reality of what is being done to them, the country, and how long it will negatively impact on those they piously claim to love and cherish like their kids, and kid's kids, and possibly much longer than we will ever know.
The Bush admin decided in advance that it was going to torture prisoners, and then concocted a "legal" framework for doing so. The Obama admin has decided in advance that some prisoners must be locked up indefinitely without trial, and now it will concoct a "legal" framework for doing so. Which prez edited the Harvard Law Review as a young man, and which one went on a long drunk? It's getting hard to tell.
Indeed, Bart. One speaks in complex sentences with dependent clauses, and the other wouldn't know a dependent clause if it hit him in the face. But their policies are substantially indistinguishable.
Thank you, Dennis, and all of you, for standing up and saying what must be said.
Thank you for your good post.

The sad thing is that very few Americans seem to understand what is going on. Or maybe they just don't care.

But anyway there still hope that those few who care could do something. I hope that on 28. many people will attend the demonstrations.

I'd bet that obama can pronounce the words in "The Little Goat" better than gwb (even while holding it upside down).
Hannu - thanks.

Jane: absolutely. People who desperately want to continue to believe in Obama are clinging to some pretty peculiar arguments...
Leslie: you're welcome! And so must as many of us that see this as well: stand up and be counted.
Jane, I was thinking about that word "regime" too. I don't think it was simply a poor choice of word. It's a word laden with coup d'etat and militarism connotation. Was it supposed to get our attention?
Leslie and Jane: I don't have a problem with Obama using the term "legal regime" (although I wish that he'd apply the term to his predecessor - the Bush Regime!) since the term regime in this context has a neutral meaning. What I have a problem with is the content of his speech. Stripped of all of its flowerly language about upholding the "rule of law," Obama has staked out a breathtakingly radical position - the right to hold indefinitely anyone the government deems to be dangerous. Glenn Greenwald has written vividly and precisely about this here.
Try as they might, sooner or later it will all come out. An some things don't get better with age.

Frankly, I don't give a damn about the photos themselves, they really won't add much to the "debate" (I wonder just how we got to the debased state where there could even be a debate about torture). We know that the US tortured, we know that what is euphemistically referred to as "enhanced interrogation techniques" killed people. What I don't understand why the people who are in a position to do so don't bring all those that are involved to book. That includes everyone from the people in the Oval Office who authorized the torture to the people in the field who carried it out.

I know, "political realities" prevent them from doing something that they don't much seem to want to do anyway. But another political reality is that no matter how far they sweep this under the rug, there's always that tell-tale lump in the carpet. People won't forget.
Yes, Dennis, I really do understand this issue, and I agree with you completely. I was just shocked at the use of the word "regime." I thought maybe he might be trying to play devil's advocate to get the courts and Congress to act in a constitutional manner. Wishful thinking.
This whole thing just makes me sick. Creating a special "legal framework" to guarantee that people who would probably be acquitted in a real court can still be detained indefinitely! This is exactly the opposite of what the rule of law is supposed to mean. Obama is a professor of constitutional law. If anyone understands what this means, it is him. And still he does it.

But is the amendment about the photos legal? It seems to clash with the Freedom of Information Act, not to mention international laws which require the government to make any evidence of torture available. I assume it will be challenged in court?
John: You said it very well: "Try as they might, sooner or later it will all come out. An some things don't get better with age."

Or, the skeleton(s) in the closet saying might work even better.

Leslie and Norwonk: The fact that Obama's a former Constitutional Law Professor makes this all the more egregious. ACLU will of course challenge this in court and the Congress, whether under the GOP or the Democrats, whether the White House occupant is a Democrat or a Republican, is behaving the same way. This only underscores the need for people to engage in the audacity of realism in the face of a system that will not and cannot give people justice - taking it to the streets.
Late to the party and disenchanted as well as angry. Congress is one big fustercluck and I bet they are having a good laugh at our expense. Yet again. Dugg and Reddit. Thank you Dennis for keeping it real.
I did not vote for Obama to have him stand pat. Yet, all we get is more war and more money for war. Did he learn nothing from his predecessor?
Cindy: Anger turned inward becomes depression, as I suspect you may already know. We need to express ourselves publicly and by doing so help others who are inclined to despondency to do likewise. The world is counting on us.

Cartouche: Thanks as always!

Intermezzo: As for whether he has learned anything from Bush: Obama's learned that they need to be more clever about how they go about doing what they are doing and provide a happy face on torture, rendition, wars for empire, and indefinite detention. That's mainly what his candidacy was about in the first place - a way to maintain the core policies, but do so in a way that kept people within the fold of the system.

As it goes on, however, the fancy rhetorical footwork can't conceal the ugly realities underneath it all.