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Barack Obama at 100 Day Press Conference: Waterboarding Is Torture

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jefferson_dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-29-09 07:55 PM
Original message
Barack Obama at 100 Day Press Conference: Waterboarding Is Torture
Edited on Wed Apr-29-09 08:48 PM by jefferson_dem
Run time: 03:49
Posted on YouTube: April 30, 2009
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Posted on DU: April 30, 2009
By DU Member: jefferson_dem
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QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. Youve said in the past that waterboarding, in your opinion, is torture. Torture is a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions. Do you believe that the previous administration sanctioned torture?

OBAMA: What Ive said -- and I will repeat -- is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture. I dont think thats just my opinion; thats the opinion of many whove examined the topic. And thats why I put an end to these practices.

I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do, not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.

I was struck by an article that I was reading the other day talking about the fact that the British during World War II, when London was being bombed to smithereens, had 200 or so detainees. And Churchill said, We dont torture, when the entire British -- all of the British people were being subjected to unimaginable risk and threat.

And then the reason was that Churchill understood, you start taking short-cuts, over time, that corrodes whats -- whats best in a people. It corrodes the character of a country.

And -- and so I strongly believed that the steps that weve taken to prevent these kinds of enhanced interrogation techniques will make us stronger over the long term and make us safer over the long term because it will put us in a -- in a position where we can still get information.

In some cases, it may be harder, but part of what makes us, I think, still a beacon to the world is that we are willing to hold true to our ideals even when its hard, not just when its easy.

At the same time, it takes away a critical recruitment tool that Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations have used to try to demonize the United States and justify the killing of civilians.

And it makes us -- it puts us in a much stronger position to work with our allies in the kind of international, coordinated intelligence activity that can shut down these networks.

So this is a decision that Im very comfortable with. And I think the American people over time will recognize that it is better for us to stick to who we are, even when were taking on an unscrupulous enemy.



OBAMA: Im sorry?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) sanctioned torture?

OBAMA: I believe that waterboarding was torture. And I think that the -- whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake.
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no limit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-29-09 08:17 PM
Response to Original message
1. Torture is illegal, so prosecute!
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mix Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-29-09 08:38 PM
Response to Original message
2. a strong moral condemnation of torture
Edited on Wed Apr-29-09 08:41 PM by mix
This was a complex exchange in which Tapper is basically trying to argue the Bush administration's line that only that which causes organ failure or death is torture.

Obama nails him and those that think this.

Keeping the question in mind--do you think the administration "sanctioned" torture?--I listened and listened for Obama's answer, but it didn't come or at least not directly. The question was even asked again and Obama replied that "waterboarding is torture." He was right to shift the question's focus to a moral condemnation with legal implications, and the Churchill anecdote was brilliant.

But WTF? Do you believe that the administration "sanctioned" torture? How is that even a debatable point? The paper trail is miles long and Cheney is bragging about it in public. And then to subtly suggest that waterboarding is not torture, for shame.
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Moonwalk Donating Member (437 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-29-09 09:27 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I notice that he evaded the "sanctioned" torture part as well. He really didn't want to answer that.
I don't quite blame him. He's 100 days in, and still walking on thin ice. Any misstep and the good will and high popularity numbers could pop like a soap bubble. My belief is that, on the one hand, he's releasing these memos to make sure that the GOP has other things to deal with and can't spend time dogging him with tea-bagging parties and such. It focuses the media on torture, and keeps the GOP on the defensive. This gives him leverage as well. "You stymie me, and I'll release more memos..." This tells the GOP that it better be careful. He's not unarmed.

On the other hand, he has to be careful that he doesn't go full-steam ahead with prosecuting anyone, not yet. Why not? Well, because it could polarize the country, split it and keep other things from being accomplished, like health care and education reform and such.

Now I'm not saying Obama is right politically or morally to take this tack. Nor do I know for sure that's what he's doing. But I do know this. He's a little younger than I am. That means that the first president he knew, I mean really knew and was old enough to have an opinion about was Nixon. Watergate was a seminal event for him, and he saw the country split over that, focused on it and nothing else for a long time. Then, years later, came Clinton's impeachment, which many saw as revenge for Nixon. And he saw the way that split the country, too. The last thing he wants, I think is to make it seem like the democrats came into office to reek vengeance on Bush and company. He wants to be seen as a healer and a uniter, and keep the country focused and behind him.

He starts this ball rolling and there's no stopping it. He will have to see it through till the end. And one thing I'm pretty sure of, this is not a man who starts balls rolling unless he's damn sure he knows where they're going to roll to and what damage they're going to do. He's not ready yet to send the "prosecute" ball rolling. Hence, the very evident evasion.
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mix Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-29-09 09:36 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I think he did answer it though in an indirect but powerful way.
By saying "waterboarding is torture" he is saying that crimes have been committed according to US law, which is not debatable. Tapper was subtly suggesting that waterboarding is merely enhanced interrogation and therefore legal and definitely not torture. That is the thin reed the hard core clings to.

Obama reframed the torture question as a violation of American values as well. That was powerful. You're right, he has to be careful, but he clearly implied that crimes have taken place.

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W T F Donating Member (400 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-29-09 10:22 PM
Response to Original message
5. Forcing water into somebody's lungs IS torture......
Just because you give it a new label with a nice sounding name and wrap the American flag around it does not make the turd shiny.
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