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.