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Torture Investigations Vital to National Security

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Attacking Obama Endorses Crimes Against Humanity

By J. Lange Winckler

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American military personnel captured and subjected to torture – in Iraq, Vietnam, the Korean War, and World War II – all reported later that their suffering had a lifelong effect upon them.  There simply is no escaping from torture, as now the entire United States is learning.

Among the most deplorable actions taken during the administration of George W. Bush was a culture of arrogance and lawlessness exemplified by torture of prisoners in American hands.  As reports now show, this came literally from the top offices of the White House and will be an enduring stain on  the nation’s honor – but fortunately, President Barack Obama has the courage to face this disgrace and accept American responsibility for those unforgivable abuses of human rights.

In doing so, President Obama now takes steps to restore a reputation America built through trial and trouble over 250 years.  It took only months for the Bush Regime to heedlessly trash the nation’s reputation.  The Obama Administration is doing more in a few weeks to return America to a standard of decency and democratic principles than anyone thought possible.

Extremists who believe that national security is protected by torture violently disagree with President Obama’s position to allow investigation of senior officials involved in creating the system of abusive interrogations.  The investigations will surely look at former Justice Department officials and, probably, members of the recent Bush Administration up to and including former Vice President Dick Cheney.  These are the people who created that culture of lawlessness and inhumanity, as opposed to the field officers who carried out the orders.  The president has already said that those field officers, believing they acted within the standards of the law, will not be part of the investigations or possible legal action.

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National security is in fact served by refusing to commit crimes against humanity.  The forthcoming investigations of promotion of torture are likely to do more to serve American interests than was ever aided by the inhumane cruelty prisoners suffered at the hands of U.S. forces.  This is because the enemies of America are not only deprived of an argument – that the U.S. is a hypocritical and cruel aggressor state – but also are embarrassed that in the U.S., as opposed to those areas ruled by the Taliban or under other despotic influences, evil deeds are exposed and justice pursued.

President Obama’s courage in the face of vicious political attack at home and the embarrassment that telling the truth inevitably causes America is an act of great leadership.  Those who dare attack the Obama Administration for exposing and prosecuting the promoters of torture should instead wonder – why do they believe anyone else will endorse their support of crimes against humanity?

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J. Lange Winckler is a maritime historian in Tampa, Florida.
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Former newspaper and magazine editor, TV news producer and radio talk show host, the author is now a professional historian and writer.

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