Thursday, May 14, 2009

Well, Bravo!

To my complete surprise but absolute relief, the center-left editorial board of the Los Angeles Times got it totally right with respect to releasing the photographs depicting US torture of detainees.

While acknowledging that the photos will inflame both our friends and our enemies, the editorial makes it clear that if we are ever to move past the shame of the past eight years, this country must come clean and admit to the horrors our military and intelligence agencies committed. Releasing those photos, as ordered by a trial judge and appellate court, is an important part of that process, even if in the short run the move will raise the danger level.

It's terrible that the president was faced with such an unpalatable choice, but it's just one of the many awful results of the culture of torture and lawlessness put in place by the Bush administration. This country has already alienated allies and seen its moral standing crumble. Now, as we try to get to the bottom of what happened during those years, we have to acknowledge that doing so might put us in further danger. ...

Photographs are part of the historical record. Think of these images: black men hanging from trees in the American South; emaciated concentration camp survivors; prisoners shackled into cramped "tiger cages" in South Vietnam. Would this be a better world without those photos?

Trying to cover up atrocities because someone might be angry isn't right and won't work. Instead, the Pentagon should release the photos while making it clear that the U.S. repudiates such barbaric behavior and is committed to dismantling the culture that allowed it to occur.
[Emphasis added]

Exactly so. Acknowledging the shame we should be feeling at those atrocities is very much a part of the process of "moving forward." To hide the details belies the promise of a new culture, one which is humane, law abiding, and (above all) transparent.

I am grateful to the Los Angeles Times for taking this bold and very necessary stance, so grateful that I am going to pick up a paper copy of today's paper, clip the editorial and mail it to the White House with a quarter taped to the bottom. My message will be brief:

"Here, Mr. President. Now go buy a clue."

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