Torture Investigations Will Help Obama, Not Hurt Him

Monday's NY Times, in a story about the remote possibility of torture investigations by the Justice Department, describes the Obama administration's concerns:

A series of investigations could exacerbate partisan divisions in Congress, just as the Obama administration is trying to push through the president's ambitious domestic plans and needs all the support it can muster.

"He wants to dominate the discussion, and he wants the discussion to be about his domestic agenda -- health care, energy and education," said Martha Joynt Kumar, a professor of political science at Towson University who studies the presidency.

The Bush national security controversies "are certainly a diversion from what he wants to do," Professor Kumar said. "He wants to talk about the present and not the past."

I'm sure the administration thinks this: it's the standard, conventional wisdom. The question is, why should they think this?

While it's not a perfect correlation, those who oppose meaningful healthcare legislation, not to mention many other good pieces of legislation, are either Republicans or those Democrats who wholeheartedly supported and defend torture. If these investigations were to (further) undermine their credibility and legitimacy, this is only a good thing.

Unless, of course, Obama really doesn't want to pass good legislation....

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Constitutionally, the Admin's concerns should carry zero weight with the Justice Dept, since they are two of the three separate power centers of our Government (Executive and Judicial). Even if the head of the JD is appointed. Bush tried to corrupt this by appointing ideologues to the JD, but it looks like Obama managed to choose somebody who believes in the Constitution. And, quite correctly, Holder's decision as to whether or no to pursue investigations is (or should be) based purely on the evidence, not on its possible political ramifications.

It is not Obama's decision to make or influence.

By Gray Gaffer (not verified) on 13 Jul 2009 #permalink

I'm more concerned about the torture investigations providing retroactive legal sanction for what the Bush administration did. If the investigation takes as a starting point that its only interest lies in actions that went beyond the Yu-Bybee memos, then it will pursue and scapegoat only underlings.

We desperately need to investigate the criminal activity, including but not limited to waterboarding, that resulted as a consequence of the Yu-Bybee memos, pursuing responsibility wherever that goes. Yu and Bybee minimally should be disbarred, and the former impeached. An investigation that brackets off what the Bush OLC allowed essentially engraves those misdeeds into the concrete of precedent.

The Obama administration has been a disappointment to civil libertarians so far. Feh.

Gray, the Justice Department is in the Executive branch of our government, not the Judicial. That's firmly established. The abuses of the JD under the Bush administration highlight that fact.
I hope A.G. Holder sticks to his guns and fights for a true investigation of the torture policies of the Bush administration but I hold out little hope for it. Already, we are seeing "leaks" into the main stream media that are gutting any would-be investigation by Justice.

Yeah. Let the investigations proceed and the chips fall where they may. In the course of destroying this country, George W. Bush (the First Fool as I loved to call him) undid DECADES of diplomatic protocol.

Were these morons able to get information via torture? Sure they did. Most of that info was false. You see, under those circumstances, the person being tortured will say just about anything. It is quite interesting: no one in this administration (Excuse me, I meant to say, âTHAT administration) was smart enough to figure this out.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY