Even before he had taken the oath of office, President Obama indicated that "I also have the a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward." That turned out to be a signal that no actions would be taken against President G. W. Bush and his cabal for the multitude of violations of U.S. laws as well as myriad crimes against humanity.
One can speculate why Obama took this disastrous path. Was it that he did not want to create a precedent that would tie his own hands, and those of future Presidents, to laws that seemed too restrictive for our dangerous times? In support of this argument President Obama said that he wanted the folks in the government, particularly the CIA, not to have to "suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering up." Was it to protect the leaders of the Democratic party from charges of complicity in the crimes of the Bush Republican administration? Was it fear that such an investigation would drive the far right wing of the Republican party into violent rebellion? Maybe future historians will be able to tell us the answer. Right now we just don’t know. However, whatever moved the President it was a terrible decision that will come back to haunt this country again and again.
First of all, the oft used phrase, about moving ahead is one of those superficial throw away terms that can drive thinking people to despair. What does it really mean to tell the American people that, "we have to focus on getting things right in the future as opposed to looking at what went wrong in the past"? With all due respect to President Obama, this is nonsense. It implies that the President of the United States does not believe in cause and effect! Where does he think the future comes from? What President Obama has actually done is insist that the American people develop amnesia and trust him to proceed as if we need no reference points to find our way "forward."
And that is what the President appears to be doing as he gropes about in Afghanistan and pursues ineffectual policies in respect to Israel. Thankfully, however, there are those who do remember the immediate past with all its crimes and disasters. Thus, on June 7, 2010 Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, who had the misfortune of being commander of U.S. and allied forces in Iraq when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke open, has called for a "truth commission" to be established to fix responsibility and assure "accountability" for the crimes of the Bush administration.
Sanchez, who describes his own military career as a "casualty of Abu Ghraib, may well be looking for exoneration here, but it does not matter what motivates him. The United States is almost certainly set to repeat the mistakes of its past on and on and on to the point of both moral and financial bankruptcy unless the American people are educated as to what is happening to their country. A "truth commission" is one excellent vehicle to teach them about their immediate past and how, unless they demand otherwise, it will shape our policies as we "move forward" into the future.
But, alas, the odds are against such a commission. As with the neurotic patient who refuses to look inward, America’s political and bureaucratic leaders are in a state of deep denial. Last week the human rights organization Physicians for Human Rights released a report documenting a high probability that, under the Bush Jr. administration, the CIA employed medical doctors to "design, develop and deploy" the best combination of tortures to induce the levels of pain and torment that would make their victims cooperative.
In other words, in violation of their own code of medical ethics and a host of domestic and international laws, these physicians and their CIA employers, and the Bush gang that instructed them all, committed horrible crimes against humanity. And what does the CIA have to say, now that it has a tier of new bosses and answers to Barak Obama? A flat denial. We never did it. But then, as a qualifying addendum, the CIA spokesman added that whatever it was that they did do, was dutifully reviewed by the Bush Justice Department. And this is suppose to put the entire affair behind us? Not likely. Like a nasty trauma it will rise again to bother our national life unless it is excised in the light of day.
It is really distressing to watch your own nation self-destruct. We have produced a recent string of Presidents who have proven themselves either out-right evil or too weak to challenge a system tied to lobby and party interests– against which there simply is no national interest. If someone (s) with legal and popular authority does not stand up, take a serious measure of the past, and break with the criminal policies to which we now seem addicted, we can only expect more wars, more retaliatory 9/11s, more financial crises, a falling standard of living and who knows what else. The situation is bleak.
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|Allen L. Jasson|
|Liaquat Ali Khan|