Truth Time In D.c.?

The Torture Debate

April 24, 2009|By Joe Velisek

Enhanced interrogation techniques" is the euphemism used by the Bush administration for the treatment of "enemy combatants" (another euphemism) - which included sleep deprivation, solitary confinement and, of course, water-boarding. I don't think it takes a big leap of the imagination to label EITs for what they are: torture. Time will tell if these "techniques" were justified, necessary or successful, but for now let's put an end to the name game.

After review by the Justice Department, President Barack Obama has begun to release "secret" memos concerning the legal rationalization for the use of torture - mainly by the CIA - in gaining information. This is going to be a very ugly and drawn-out investigation, with a lot of people involved.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is asking for more transparency with respect to these memos, which is much like my daughter asking for a second helping of broccoli - unbelievable. My guess is that with his understanding of the inner workings of the Capitol and the number of people potentially involved on the wrong end of this investigation, he realizes a full-fledged game of Washington, D.C.-style "cover your backside" will develop - which may not exonerate the Bush administration but may prevent indictments. This is a "technique" he used while in office, not necessarily getting exactly what he wanted but preventing what he didn't want to happen.

I don't think Mr. Obama is looking to impede this investigation but to control it, because once it begins in earnest, it will turn into a witch hunt dominating all else, particularly inside the Beltway. And last time I checked, there are a few other items on the national agenda that need to be dealt with. I don't believe this issue will end up under someone's carpet; it's too serious. But its resolution may need to be postponed until, say, the economy turns around.

Joe Velisek, formerly with Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development, is a columnist for the blog www.baltimoreorgan.com.

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