Obama, Senate Dem Leadership Oppose Truth Commission

President Obama continues his zigging and zagging on the torture issue - now joined by Senate Democratic leadership:

Senate Democratic leaders, joining forces with the Obama White House, said they would resist efforts by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other prominent Democrats to create a special commission to investigate the harsh interrogation methods that the Bush administration approved for terrorism suspects. At a meeting of top Democrats at the White House Wednesday night, President Obama told Congressional leaders that he did not want a special inquiry, which he said would potentially steal time and energy from his ambitious policy priorities, and could mushroom into a wider distraction by looking back at other aspects of the Bush years.

Emphasis supplied.) Just yesterday, Obama said the opposite:

President Obama today said he is not opposed to some sort of "further accounting of what took place during this period" . . .

Who knows what Obama thinks on these issues anymore. Every day brings a new position.

Speaking for me only

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    doesn't it seem (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Turkana on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 06:42:46 PM EST
    like we're hearing many of the same rationalizations we heard against impeachment? could the mindset have calcined?

    I don't know, BTD...I think this (5.00 / 7) (#2)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 06:45:19 PM EST
    has the potential to really bite the Dems in the butt.

    I think Obama's also giving dictation to the media, who are dutifully "reporting" the whole issue as one that is strictly political and driven by the "hard left."

    I've pretty much had enough of things being off the table, of Democratic "leaders" brushing off the concerns of what may be an increasingly disaffected constituency - and I wish I didn't have a sense that what's really going on with Obama is that he's frustrated that his exhortation to move forward is running into opposition and threatening to muss up his pristine presidency, when what he should be doing is hearing what the people are saying.

    It's unbelievably disheartening; there is such a vacuum of true leadership that I think whatever "ambitious policy priorities" Obama intends to address are going to be well and truly FUBAR by the time it's all over.

    It could bite them in the butt, (5.00 / 7) (#4)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 07:14:59 PM EST
    unless they get out of the way and let the Judicial Branch deal with it.

    There's a reason we have a court system.  That Third Branch has a purpose.  The Democrats should take advantage of that.  

    All Obama and the Democrats are doing now by trying to protect the players is making this issue which is clearly a matter of law all about politics.


    Holder is not going to prosecute anyone (3.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Catch 22 on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 07:58:19 PM EST
    I knew that yesterday and after his committee hearing today he pretty much verified that with his political speak.

    Sorry but anyone here who took yesterday's Obama double-talk seriously has not been paying attention to him the last 18 months. It was as plain as day even before he spoke yesterday. They had an early morning meeting which formulated the Holder hand-off which was going to be carried out on Feinstein's 'convenient' letter asking for 7 or 8 months to complete an investigation (Ha!), and when that didn't quiet the crowd they met again today and decided just to kill it straight up in solidarity.

    Time to move on folks.


    I don't take Holder seriously and (none / 0) (#9)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 08:31:47 PM EST
    as a result I do not think it is time to move on at all.

    Nice try though - well not really - a little lame - but I felt the need to be nice and then I didn't.  Cheers!


    As usual... (none / 0) (#13)
    by Catch 22 on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:14:20 PM EST
    never on the issues. Just another one of those blog attack chihuahuas.

    And who is lame here? I guess you really didn't understand Obama or who works for him. lol. Thanks for the chuckle.


    Sheesh (none / 0) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 08:08:02 AM EST
    I have only been alive 43 years but I don't come by understanding exactly what Tenacious means by accident.  It is easy to become discouraged but nothing was ever accomplished by feeding on discouragement.  If I fed on discouragement I'd probably have offed myself somewhere along the way these past eight years.

    What about Feinstein's review? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by MKS on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 06:54:10 PM EST
    Although I suppose that could be done in closed hearings....

    I am not sure that the lid can be kept on this issue much longer....The public seems to be demanding an accounting of one sort or another.

    I just want to say that the ONLY time (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 07:20:25 PM EST
    since 9/11 that I have felt any satisfaction that the world was working correctly and that our democracy was in tact was at the conclusion of Zacakarias Moussaoui's trial.  Okay - yes he probably was better suited for the insane asylum - but the guy was tried properly under our system - his experience was essentially the same as any other criminal in our system - and he's gone - he's not going to be able to hurt anyone anymore.

    We could have been done by now.  Instead we are in this hellish limbo contemplating the meaning of torture.  That's wrong on so many levels and I'm tired of these people who haven't the guts to just be smart and deal with this issue head on.

    Thanks for listening.

    I can tell you what he thinks: (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 07:36:28 PM EST

    Don't you remember?

    How do you solve a problem like Obama?
    How do catch a wave and pin it down?
    How do you solve a problem like Obama?
    A relativist, a post-partisan, a clown.

    Obama's not a person, he's a brand. It morphs as needed, the next step in the Reagan revolution. Torture only happens on TV.

    Thanks for the Sound of Music (none / 0) (#15)
    by otherlisa on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 01:20:24 AM EST
    earworm, buddy! :)

    I wonder what the pending release of (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 10:22:42 PM EST
    photos of detainee abuse pictures will add to the debate?

    From the ACLU:

    By orders dated June 9, 2006 and June 21, 2006, the Court directed the Government to release twenty-one photographs depicting the treatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. By opinion dated September 22, 2008, the Second Circuit affirmed this Court's orders. On November 6, 2008, Appellants filed a petition for rehearing en banc only as to the panel's decision on FOIA exemption 7(F); that petition was denied March 12, 2009. As the Government has now determined that it will not seek certiorari of the Second Circuit's decision, the Department of Defense is preparing to release the 21 photos at issue in the appeal and 23 other photos identified as responsive. In addition, the Government also is processing for release a substantial number of other images contained in Army CID reports that have been closed during the pendency of this case; these other images will be processed consistent with the Court's previous rulings on responsive images in this case. The parties have reached an agreement that the Department of Defense will produce all the responsive images by May 28, 2009.

    Now, if the administration isn't blocking the release, and for sure they know what's in those pictures, I just cannot quite understand this passive-aggressive approach this administration is taking with respect to investigations, commissions, etc.

    I have to think these pictures are just going to pour gasoline on the fire, so what does Obama think he is gaining by changing his position almost daily?

    Me too (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 06:33:48 AM EST
    Up early because the grandbaby will be up soon.  Obama's words above sadden me this morn.  Since when has investigating such in your face and at your door easily verifiable human suffering and abuse been looking back or a distraction?  I suppose Democratic leaders knew some of what was going on.  What are they going to do about that and the outrage that will generate?  I don't see how they can tamp this down or cover this all up.

    Part of it, Anne (none / 0) (#22)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 09:36:57 AM EST
    (at least in my opinion), is that Obama can still "campaign" against Bush.  The longer the theme of "Bush was bad" stays in the news, then Obama doesn't have to step up to the plate and completely govern or be held responsible.  This column kind of gets to the heart of the matter, and while you may not agree with all of its conclusions because it is written by a right-winger, I think he gets the basic theme right - so far, we can't blame Obama (at least as far as Obama is concerned).

    Besides, as others have commented on here, the Democrats' hands aren't clean in this (especially the leadership).  And many of those same Democrats worked very hard to get Obama elected. If this stuff comes out (and it will eventually), the Dems will be playing defense and they don't want that going into a mid-term election cycle where they should have no worries about losing seats.


    Okay, I see what you're saying, but... (none / 0) (#25)
    by Anne on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 10:53:26 AM EST
    (and you knew there would be one, right?)

    I think the mistake Obama is making is in thinking that he can just cut off the whole issue with one wave of the Super-Duper-Transformative-Hopey magic wand he seems to think he's holding.

    Sure, it's early days, but the photos are not going to be released until the end of May, so there's going to be, I believe, a steady drip-drip-drip of information that is going to get increasingly ugly, increasingly damning - and with each new revelation, Obama is going to look less and less like a leader, and more and more like some combination of a shill and an apologist.

    I think - and this is just my opinion - that those who were involved in facilitating a policy of torture need to be held accountable, regardless of what their party affiliation is.  Facilitating torture is not just bad if you're a Republican, it's bad if you are a human being, and I think the choice not to pursue this to wherever it eventually leads is just wrong.  Flat-out wrong.  

    It's all well and good for Obama to ban the use of "harsh interrogation techniques," but as long as Obama refuses to deal with the genesis of Bush's policy, and as long as he refuses to ferret out the truth of how it happened and who was involved and what their roles were, he is, in effect, allowing it all to stand, and I think the chances are good that what happened under Bush could easily happen in succeeding administrations - as easy as the stroke of a pen.

    Obama may think that releasing the memos and pictures is just about making sure people know how evil the Republicans are, but I think he underestimates the ability of the people to understand that it is never enough just to identify evil - when you take a that's-all-in-the-past approach, you allow people to deny that it ever happened.  

    If Democrats were involved, they should be held accountable ,too; to avoid investigations in order to shield them - and by extension Republicans all the way to Bush - reduces a significant human rights issue to a petty, partisan issue.  How on earth do we have any credibility on global human rights issues, how do we demand that other governments hold their people accountable when we aren't even willing to hold our own people accountable?

    No, I don't know what kind of game Obama is playing here, but the games need to stop.


    Gallup poll due out soon on (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 10:55:46 AM EST
    opinions of people in the U.S. on the torture memos.  

    Dear Obama (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by lilburro on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 12:20:06 AM EST
    they're going to hate your policy proposals as much as they hate a torture commission.


    Can't we have both?

    (I recall working hard to elect a Senator or two...or three...)

    Very good point. Wonder why Obama doesn't (none / 0) (#18)
    by DeborahNC on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 02:09:23 AM EST
    realize that? I think he's alot like many other Democrats. He seems to be afraid of Republicans. And, he thinks that prosecuting Bushies will negatively affect his chances in 2012.

    He just doesn't realize how much Americans want their presidents to uphold their oath of office. Like, defending the constitution...


    Pyrrhic victory (5.00 / 0) (#16)
    by koshembos on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 01:48:38 AM EST
    So we have a Democratic president who follows the banks and does what they want. Who is closing down Chrysler and sending hundreds of thousand of worker into the cold. Whose justice department seems to mimic the cruelty of the Bush one. Who is reforming health care by further enriching the insurance companies and who who wants to bury our ugliest days without any investigation.

    It's slowly becoming a nightmare.

    A partial explanation. Look at his donors. Ugh... (5.00 / 0) (#17)
    by DeborahNC on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 02:02:27 AM EST
    Change (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 09:49:27 AM EST
    Who knows what Obama thinks on these issues anymore. Every day brings a new position.

    He promised change.
    You voted for change.
    He delivers change.  

    heh! (none / 0) (#24)
    by Faust on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 10:39:51 AM EST
    "other aspects of the Bush years" (none / 0) (#7)
    by Andreas on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 07:55:34 PM EST
    "other aspects of the Bush years" = Iraq war

    Indeed (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Spamlet on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 10:06:07 PM EST
    And as far as I'm concerned those "other aspects of the Bush years" date from November 7, 2000.

    Butter, not guns! (none / 0) (#10)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 09:29:33 PM EST
    If everyone gets on board the train where we're headed away from torture, could I be the first to suggest we take the track toward freedom, equality, and brotherhood?

    Fear of reality (none / 0) (#20)
    by mmc9431 on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 07:28:05 AM EST
    The only reason for wanting to bury all of the Bush crimes is that too many powerful Democratic's were in the mix. It's impossible for them to come down on the Bush dictatorship without bringing themselves down with it. (Many of these Dem's were very instrumental in getting Obama elected) He isn't going to throw them to the wolves now.

    Two words: Pelosi Knew. (none / 0) (#27)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:03:11 AM EST
    And approved.  Four actually.  That is why there will be no prosecutions