Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

  WSJ: Obama set to reverse himself on criminal interrogations

Last year while campaigning candidate Barack Obama used to boast about a law he helped to enact in the Illinois state legislature, which required all police interrogations to be videotaped. This mandate of transparency, he said, would discourage abusive interrogation practices in the future and serve to hold accountable any public servant who dared to engage in them. Today, however, Evan Perez and Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal report that President Obama is on the verge of ordering the Justice Department to block the disclosure of evidence of extremely brutal interrogations – on the grounds that it would be too embarrassing for the public to see quite how abusively government employees behaved.

The three videotapes in question, from 2005, show the interrogations of multiple suspects (none ever charged with any crimes). Officers inflicted a variety of diabolically clever forms of torture on them as well as plain old physical brutality. For example, one preferred method of "interrogation" was to bang a suspect's head against the wall repeatedly.

Although the Justice Dept. wishes to publish the tapes, in compliance with an ACLU lawsuit seeking their release, some of the wise establishment types surrounding the new president reportedly are urging him to reverse his earlier position on transparency, accountability, and the rule of law. Their reasons?

According to the WSJ, they argue that release of the tapes would hurt the government's credibility, hand a propaganda victory to America's enemies, and alienate some officers - who might not be willing in the future to engage in such practices if their recent misdeeds are not concealed. As one government official commented anonymously, making public the details of government wrongdoing would make officers "disinclined to take any risks in the future."

And there you were thinking that the whole point of exposing criminal deeds was to disincline people from repeating them in the future.

A tip of the hat to Milo for alerting me to the WSJ report.

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