whose position could be summed up as “the end justifies the means”, and who had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent, or that there was a lack of any useable evidence for the great majority of them. If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it. That seemed to be the philosophy that ruled in the Vice President’s Office.This is from a statement to the court under oath, as reported by the (London) Times. Do click over and read the whole story, and Sullivan's reaction (and see too Conor Friedersdorf). And stop and think about it for a while.
Regulars know my position. It is very understandable that Barack Obama doesn't want to deal with this. He's not planning to torture anyone. He's not planning to kidnap people and dump them in a prison thousands of miles from their homes, to let them rot there for the rest of their lives, innocent or not. He's the guy who is putting a stop to this unAmerican evil, not the guy who did it -- so why, since he's putting a stop to it, should he risk his presidency fighting this fight. He has so much on his plate -- pundits and pols alike worry that he has too much on his plate. Can't he just promulgate good policies, and leave it at that?
I'm convinced that he can't. This isn't going to go away. Presidential leadership on this issue may be costly, but lack of leadership is going to be even more costly (see, for example, Marc Ambinder's latest update). Again, regulars know that I believe the least costly way out of it is pardon-plus-commission. Maybe that's not the answer; maybe someone else has a better idea. As appealing as patience and muddling through might seem, however (and we know the president's instincts are often for just that, and in many areas those instincts serve him well), I just don't see it working in this area. I don't see how you can run a foreign policy when stories such as this one are newspapers around the world, and the President of the United States isn't doing anything about it -- and the loudest voices in the out-party are applauding torture and kidnapping. Really, I'd love for someone to show me a path in which benign neglect works -- not morally, since it obviously doesn't, but pragmatically.
One more time: a high official in the last administration, under oath, told a court that the administration he was part of had committed terrible crimes.
Don't ignore this. Don't.