What Hilzoy Said.

February 10, 2009 at 12:47 am | Posted in Department of Justice, torture | Leave a comment
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Portrait of Mr. Pruitts children II (Theodor Horydczak, photographer)

Portrait of Mr. Pruitt's children II (Theodor Horydczak, photographer)

This whole thing makes me sick.

I can easily see why we might not want to disclose which other governments we have asked for assistance, especially assistance that involves taking a scalpel to someone’s genitalia. If we asked Morocco for help, Morocco might not take kindly to our turning around and publicizing that fact. And I can see why we might not want to disclose which companies work with the CIA.

But if the government cares about protecting these secrets, it ought to try very hard not to create situations in which disclosing them is the only way to remedy a horrific injustice. It is not OK for the government first to engage in the kind of conduct described above, and then to say that its victims can have no legal recourse, because of national security concerns. And one of the things that’s really shocking about the DoJ position is its apparently complete lack of consideration for the rights of the people who were abducted and sent off to be tortured at our behest.

Sometimes, when you do something really appalling, you lose the right to complain that making things right will harm your interests. I think this is one of those times. The Obama administration apparently disagrees.

So, Obama administration: you screwed this one up in a major, major way. Stop it. Stop it now. Work your hearts out to get the State Secrets Protection Act reintroduced in Congress and passed into law. Try to do right by people like the plaintiffs in this case. Don’t just say: it would be a problem for us to let people we shipped off to be tortured have their day in court. Try to make it right.

You have it in your power to make me proud of my government again. But this is really, really, really not a very good start.


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