Department Of "Huh?"–Interrogation Policy Edition

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 13, 2009

The Obama Administration doesn’t want to release detainee abuse pictures, because it is afraid that releasing such pictures could “inflame anti-American opinion and endanger U.S. troops.”

Okay. I can buy the logic behind that decision.

But let’s be clear on the fact that this constitutes a reversal on the part of the Administration. And a question emerges: Despite the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, isn’t it the case that releasing the original interrogation memos inflamed anti-American opinion and endangered U.S. troops? Part of the case made against the Bush Administration’s interrogation policies, as revealed in the released memos, was that their promulgation and implementation served to lessen American prestige and put us in a position where we could not protest if a captured American soldier was being tortured. If we shouldn’t release pictures because they would “inflame anti-American opinion and endanger U.S. troops,” why did the Administration release memos that may serve to do the same thing?

UPDATE: For this and other reversals, the President has now been labeled as the “Neocon In Chief” by none other than Andrew Sullivan, who once was seen rapturously counseling “patience and steel” as he joyously anticipated Barack Obama’s election, but now appears to be careening towards utter disillusionment–a process some of us picked up on approximately five months ago. Indeed, anyone who didn’t see this kind of reversal coming obviously does not know Sullivan well; in the past, he was as rapturous about the elections of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush . . . before abandoning and turning on both Presidents. Now, it would appear that President Obama is about to get the Sullivan treatment. Quelle surprise.

Doubtless, Sullivan will pat himself on the back for supposedly being tough-minded. But as my earlier post, linked above, stated, people like Sullivan have only themselves to blame for the unwelcome surprises they have allowed the Obama Administration to visit upon them. While many of us wanted to have something of a known quantity for President, Andrew Sullivan was busy urging us to take a chance on a cipher. While many of us wanted to discuss issues, Andrew Sullivan was busy discussing Trig Palin’s matrilineal line. Now, Sullivan is upset that Obama appears to be deserting him on the issues. Worse, he appears to be surprised. He wouldn’t have been if he took the most recent Presidential election even remotely seriously and conducted a serious examination of the issues at stake, but instead of doing that, Andrew Sullivan insisted on being frivolous, and insisted as well that the rest of the country join him in the frivolity.

He had a right to do that, of course. He still does, for that matter. But he forfeited any right whatsoever to evince outrage once all of the talk about Trig Palin’s matrilineal line died down, and the difficult business of debating and deciding policy began anew. Now that we have finished playing childish games, perhaps it is best that Andrew Sullivan stand aside and let the big boys and girls handle the business of debating and deciding the future course of the country.

In return, Sullivan can have more free time to be a tabloid journalist. That’s what he is in essence these days.

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