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Civil Liberties

A Republic, If You Can Keep It.

“‘An investigation that focuses only on low-ranking operators would be, I think, worse than doing nothing at all,’ said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.” Per both the WP’s recommendation and an earlier trial balloon of a few weeks ago, Attorney General Eric Holder announces he’s considering a ridiculously abbreviated investigation into the Dubya era torture regime, one that will focus only on “‘whether people went beyond the techniques that were authorized’ in Bush administration memos that liberally interpreted anti-torture laws.

In other words, Attorney General Holder’s big plan appears to be snag a Jack Lint (re: Lynndie England) or two, while retroactively legitimizing the real criminals who set these thoroughly un-American torture policies in motion, and then call it a day. This is not justice, nor is it change we can believe in.

Civil libertarians across the board are livid at today’s news, and for good reason. Worse, this is just the most recent chapter in the Obama administration’s blatantly terrible record on civil liberties issues over these past six months. The President’s nudge, nudge, wink wink stance on all this last April — these aren’t “really” our policies” — looks ever more mealymouthed and insulting with each new revelation. That dog won’t hunt anymore.

Whatever happens with health insurance reform, and let’s hope it passes with real teeth, the president’s civil liberties record thus far counts as a real moral failure for this administration. Their enthusiastic continuation of Dubya-era policies on this front does violence not only to the reasons why many of us voted for Obama in the first place, but to the founding principles of our increasingly aggrieved republic. For shame.

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