Yesterday I started a Facebook fan page for Kagro X (David Waldman) after his masterful appearance on CNN.com discussing torture. In the segment, he had to do battle with two wingnuts and a Center for American Progress staffer who said:
The American people right now are actually not interested in this sideshow and this discussion. The American people are interested in looking forward — nobody is concerned anymore with what the Bush administration was doing and did. We decided it was torture. Conservatives may or may not disagree. None of that matters at this point and time.
Glenn Greenwald followed up, and made a point that I want to echo — I have the utmost respect for the folks at ThinkProgress (the blog of CAP) who have been doing an terrific job covering the torture debate, and this does not reflect on their fine work. But even though John Podesta has come out in favor of impeaching Bybee, I’m not aware of any public statement by a CAP representative that opposes the President and calls for criminal investigation into torture. This CNN comments, however, appears to be within the bounds of CAP’s position. There certainly hasn’t been any retraction.
Matt Yglesias, a CAP fellow, dissociates himself with the comments but adds that he is against criminal prosecutions:
I’m not, personally, all that enthusiastic about the notion of trying to conduct criminal prosecutions but I think something on a “truth commission” model and serious efforts to bring professional sanctions against John Yoo and Jay Bybee would be a good idea.
He also points to an article by Ken Gude, CAP’s associate director for international rights and responsibility, on Obama’s refusal to release the torture photos:
[W]e need to stop the constant drip of news and channel it into an authoritative, non-partisan, non-adversarial investigation into the Bush administration’s torture policies.
Both of which are fine as a matter of personal opinion. But I don’t know what it says about our broken political system, or the state of our national discourse, when our biggest "liberal" think tank has nobody calling for the criminal prosecution of Americans who broke the law and tortured people. It’s certainly nothing I thought I’d ever see in my lifetime.
Here’s George Bush in 2004 after the release of the Abu Ghraib photos:
In our country, when there’s an allegation of abuse — more than an allegation in this case, actual abuse, we saw the pictures — there will be a full investigation and justice will be delivered….The system will be transparent, it will be open, and people will see the results. This is a serious matter. It’s a matter that reflects badly on my country. Our citizens in America are appalled by what they saw, just like people in the Middle East are appalled. We share the same deep concerns. And we will find the truth, we will fully investigate. The world will see the investigation and justice will be served.
Of course he was lying his face off, but at least he felt like he had to say it at the time. Four years later it’s only the "lunatic fringe" who want anyone held accountable for torture.
Institutional liberalism has moved on.
At least Kagro’s still feisty.
Update: The CAP staffer (who I actually know somewhat and like a lot) wrote a mea culpa on her blog. As Glenn Greenwald said in an email, "Personally, I have huge respect for that sort of candid and obviously authentic acknowledgment of error. I think her credibility ends up increasing from this whole episode because of how she handled her mistake." Agreed, and I totally believe her — I think it was just one of those days.