The CIA released a secret document detailing their interrogation techniques up to 2009, and one man is celebrating the harsh realities it reveals: Barack Obama. After all, he is the one who put a stop to the programme, so with just a few pretty words he can give a great boost to his approval rating, putting all the bad stuff on Bush. But is Obama really any better? Let’s have a quick look at his words in reaction to the report.
First of all, Obama makes it clear that what the CIA did was “brutal and wrong”, and that it is a thing of the past that should stay in the past. Sounds great and all, but the truth is that Obama didn’t really stop these brutal methods: he merely changed them. As CIA lawyer John Rizzo points out, whereas Bush captured suspected terrorists and then let them be interrogated, Obama just kills them outright with his drone bombs. Bush let innocent people wither away for years in places like Guantanamo Bay without receiving a trial, eventually being forced to release some of them when they were proven innocent, while Obama got rid of that problem the easy way by making sure that there is no innocence left to prove: suspects are killed without a trial.
Worse still is how Obama mentions that the interrogation methods were “counterproductive”. Oh really? And how about those drone strikes then? Drone strikes don’t just kill “suspected terrorists”, but they take with them the entire extended family, the neighbours, three chickens and the dog from across the street. That is just as, if not even more counterproductive, because while at least Bush was able to lie about interrogation methods, these civilian deaths are a harsh reality that nobody in the Middle East is unfamiliar with.
But Obama’s comments get even better: “One of the things that sets us apart from other countries is that when we make mistakes, we admit them.” Yeah, as long as it’s mistakes made by your Republican predecessor, it’s easy enough to admit them. And no doubt, whoever comes next will say the exact same thing about your drone strikes. Feigning superiority over the rest of the world just because you have a system in which every 4 years there might be a completely different person ruling the country is rather sad, and certainly not a reason for pride.
In the end, the one thing we learn from reports such as these is that we aren’t learning anything. We’re just going from one cruel method to another, always making sure to change the tactic to divert criticism, but never truly making an effort to improve our ways. Heck, the people responsible for the torture, which, by the way, is against both international and national law, are not even going to be prosecuted. Why would they, after all, when those in power know that in 5 years time they might fall victim to the same thing?
But by next week we’ll have forgotten this again. Too bad that the same cannot be said for people living in the Middle East, and so, the cycle of terrorism and brutality continues.
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