Obama is wrong again to change track on the torture photos.
First of all, they are going to come out anyway, one way or another. We know that. Material like this that is suppressed will come out. It may take weeks or months, but it always gets out. There are enough people within and without the military, and enough good investigative reporters, who have or will have access to it so they will soon flood the Internet and television.
Obama should try and end the issue as soon as possible and get them all out. He will help put it behind us. Get it over with.
Secondly, the photos cannot show much more than we have already seen. Most of the world knows we have how we have behaved and that in wartime, better behaviors can barely be expected, unless a powerful government orders such practices stopped.
Most of our today's enemies will treat our prisoners just as they have in the past.
We know how hard it is to stop torture or bad treatment. For years the jails of America, notwithstanding lawyers and Supreme Court decisions, have seen cruel and inhuman punishment, often inflicted differently but with the same effect. It still goes on today in certain civilian jails.
Our failure to show we will stop the torture, in every possible way, including the prosecution of and exposure of torturers, is a fatal mistake that probably will lead to more Americans being mistreated.
Thirdly, we deal with the most important issue:
Will American lives be lost specifically because of this? Obama says "yes." The government made the same argument when they tried to stop the Pentagon Papers. There they said tens of thousands would be killed, America's diplomacy would seriously be negatively affected, secrets of foreign powers would be released and they would never trust us again.
Everyone now knows that none of that was true.
America really should be really transparent and we really should live up to our stated ideals.
It is more important for the people to know what happened for it may lead to other presidents and their staffs being more resistant to allowing torture to ever occur again. Otherwise it becomes sanitized.
De Tocqueville, in Democracy in America, feared that in America power would come to reside with a single person and then the country's citizens would be "reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." De Tocqueville also wrote that he knew of no country with "less independence of mind and true freedom of discussion" than America. De Tocqueville foresaw a time when an American strongman would cow Congress and the justice system.
It is necessary that the meaning of the First Amendment be respected. For the last eight years, too many of us have been a "flock of timid and industrious animals." Obama is right not to trust us. We didn't resist Bush - we must push on Obama.