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Thursday, April 23, 2009


Write to Obama

I've been running a series of posts on cinema and its discontents this week, and I'll be continuing it shortly. But I've also been following the news, and you know what makes me really discontented? Torture.

President Obama has been shifting position somewhat over the last few days, but his general trend seems to be against prosecuting those who decided that international law and common humanity could go screw itself, they wanted torture to be legal. How much it's his call versus how much unofficial influence he can have is a debatable question, but any influence against prosecution is too much.

This is a terrible idea. The torture legislation has permanently damaged the good name of America and its allies, and the good name of democracy itself; until those responsible are brought to justice, we can have no moral standing in the world. There can be no reconciliation without justice; Obama talks of 'moving on', but it's not his place to say that. He's not the one who got tortured. If someone's predecessor gets you tortured, they've got no right to demand you move on until they've made reparation. No one will be ready to move on until justice is done. Add to that the fact that if the wrongdoers aren't punished, it sends a message to future wrongdoers that you can break any law you like as long as you're powerful enough, and we've got a serious problem on our hands.

Don't get me wrong; I like Obama. Considering the mess we're in, I'd rather have him than anyone else. But if he opposes prosecuting the torture legislators, he's seriously in the wrong.

As it's being thrashed out at the moment, this is the time when politicians are going to be subject to the pressure of public opinion. So please, take a few minutes out of your day and write to Obama, urging him to support any and all measures to bring those who created a policy of torture to justice. If you're in a hurry or can't think what to say, feel free to cut and past anything you like from this post or to write something very brief, but please, write to him and express your opinion, whether as a citizen of America or a member of the international community.

It's being decided as we speak. The more people speak out for justice against the torturers, the more likely justice is to be done. Let's all put our names down while there's still time.

In setting up a massive internet-based grassroots organization, Obama also empowered other internet-based grassroots organizations. I've seen at least a couple of petitions, including those from Democrats.com and People of Faith.

As I have said before, Obama is a Chicago politician, a type well known in the U.S. (Chicago is the traditional home of some very clever politicians who were known for having their cake and eating it too.) The fact that he said he's all about "moving forward" doesn't mean the torture investigation isn't in process.
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