Obama Continues Bush-Era Secrecy: No Release of Transcripts for Destroyed "Torture Video" Tapes

Last month, President Obama vowed to bar the release of photographs that depict torture (or detainee abuse, depending on your truthspeak) at military prisons during the Bush administration. Today, this news, about transcripts of those torture videotapes that were destroyed by the CIA in 2005. I'm seeing a pattern here...
The Obama administration objected yesterday to the release of certain Bush-era documents that detail the videotaped interrogations of CIA detainees at secret prisons, arguing to a federal judge that doing so would endanger national security and benefit al-Qaeda's recruitment efforts.

In an affidavit, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta defended the classification of records describing the contents of the 92 videotapes, their destruction by the CIA in 2005 and what he called "sensitive operational information" about the interrogations.

CIA Urges Judge To Keep Bush-Era Documents Sealed (Washington Post, via @dangillmor)

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  1. On the plus side, the liebermann ammendment to keep the prisoner photos secret was dropped from the military budget bill yesterday.

  2. Did you ever stop and think if the people who were detained, abused, and tortured, want the photos of said treatment published? Some may, others won’t.

    But what are the point of posts like these? There have been so many anti-Obama posts on BB lately. Are you card-carrying members of PUMA?

  3. OHHHSNAP,
    I assume you’re an Obama supporter, did you vote for “Change” or the usual business of protecting fellow elites no matter what the cost? Praise Barack when he deserves it and hold him to account when he should be. God, no wonder this country’s in the toilet, if fooling the populace is so damn easy.

  4. Torture transcripts, huh?

    I’m picturing that scene from “Brazil” where the sweet middle-aged stenographer lady is wearing a pair of headphones and typing “OH GOD NO PLEASE STOP PLEASE NO AIEEE” just before Michael Palin walks out of his office wearing a bloody smock and a friendly grin.

  5. brainspore, if you have a URL to that video clip, I’d be interested. That would perfectly sum up this whole torture bullshit.

    Off to youtube for some searching…

  6. Ohhhsnap @3, just a few short months ago, people were complaining about the number of anti-Bush posts on BoingBoing.

    The point of posts like these is to spread the news about Obama not living up to his campaign rhetoric about openness and transparency.

    1. Bagram is bigger and has less oversight than Gitmo. Bush policy precluded death or organ failure during torture. People have already died at Bagram. All that we’ve done is put it somewhere where it’s harder to see.

  7. I can’t find that scene on youtube. They have the scene at the end where they’ve arrested the main character and he’s about to be tortured. But they don’t have the scene earlier where the main character walks into the torture guy’s office adn the stenographer is typing and you hear the screams and then teh guy comes out covered in blood, and sits down to play with his daughter.

    That to me would be the fairest representation of the torture tapes that were destroyed.

    Anyone have the movie and can rip that scene to youtube?

  8. @ Greglondon: Good idea. I have that DVD so if you can’t find the scene maybe I’ll rip and upload it later.

  9. Obama’s rhetoric about openness and transparency maintained that the transparency must remain within “law and policy.”

    That meant they could be transparent about what they felt like, when they felt like it, really.

    I guess I do feel that sometimes people hold him accountable for things that they could (not necessarily should, though) have seen coming.

  10. Brainspore, I have often thought of that scene in Brazil.

    It is sad, sooner or later these tapes will emerge, it would be MUCH better for the US if they do so because our government released them. By covering up Obama is just prolonging the the problem. It is as if he was getting his advice from the Catholic Church.

  11. “The situation in Bagram is so far from anything like meeting the laws of war or the human rights treaties that we’re bound to,” she told the BBC.

    “There are no military hearings where the detainees can present evidence,” she added. “Torture has led to homicides there that have been admitted by the US.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7903005.stm

  12. It’s not simply an issue of whether it’s “pro-Bush” or “pro-Obama” it’s an issue of pro-Democracy.

    While Obama has certainly made large steps in some directions, there still remains the problem of the level of lipservice the American public receives.
    We should be focusing on issues rather than party, as cliched as that sounds.

    Kudos for continuing to bring this sort of activity to light.

    Whether it’s done on the Democrat or the Republican side of the aisle, it hurts and embarrasses us *ALL*

  13. “endanger national security and benefit al-Qaeda’s recruitment efforts.”
    That is a perfectly valid argument. For Not Doing It In The First Place.
    If this is a valid reason to cover it up, I vote we step it up!
    Bring in the Kingpins and Pimps and torture confessions out of them!
    Bring in the Arms and Drug dealers, torture information out!
    Torture Madoff until he spills where he hid the loot!
    Torture the heads of Diebold until they confess to rigging the 2000 election!
    Torture a random dishonorably discharged Marine into confessing to being the second gunman!

    There are no acceptable halfway comprises. Either the U.S.A. admits the previous administration was criminally wrong, and prosecute everyone who ordered and administered to the full extent of the law, or they legalize it for use by all law enforcement. anywhere in between is hypocrisy.

  14. I really expected Barry to do better then this.

    What I can’t get into my head is why withholding pictures or now these transcripts will be less worse then what people will imagine was going on. I mean the widespread torture and abuses are not a secret and will be a great recruitment help for terrorists no matter if they have pictures of it or not.

    At least when you put it all in the open it signals that it won’t happen again and you know exactly how far things went. Shrouding the evidence in secrecy will do nothing more then invite wild speculation that might in the end be much worse then openly presenting the facts.

    I never expected Obama to be a miracle worker or a saint, but him turning out to only take one step back from what the Bush administration did instead of firmly walking into the other direction is quite disheartening.

  15. >>What do they think they’re covering up?

    The systematic torture of innocent civilians who were simply at the wrong place and time.

    >>What I can’t get into my head is why withholding pictures or now these transcripts will be less worse then what people will imagine was going on.

    People are visual. So long as there isn’t evidence right in front of their eyes, the outrage they feel isn’t personal. It’s someone else doing something unmentionable to somebody else. If pictures of this are ever released the common man can no longer cloak his guilt with ignorance. Heads are likely to roll. Very powerful heads. Heads that Obama needs attached to shoulders to keep vital infrastructure in place. Heads worth sacrificing his principles (assuming he had any to begin with) for.

    A similar situation occurred with the Holocaust. Millions of perfectly ordinary people knew – KNEW – about the slaughter of millions of other perfectly ordinary people, but so long as their hand wasn’t on the gas release lever and no one else forced their eyes open, they didn’t have to feel responsible.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banality_of_evil

  16. “The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course.”

    It’s the kind of eloquence and intelligence we’ve come to expect Obama’s speeches to show. After years sliding down the slippery slope, you might have someone here who can restore respect for civil rights and the rule of law.

    However, if the same person then goes on to implement imprisonment without trial and withholds evidence of abuse against those so detained, I’m starting to wonder:

    What if he doesn’t believe a word he’s saying? What if he’s just the best liar we’ve ever seen?

  17. What if he doesn’t believe a word he’s saying? What if he’s just the best liar we’ve ever seen?

    It means he’s a politician.

    In other news, lawyers are dishonest and teamsters are lazy.

  18. Obama has an agenda, like all politicians. And like all politicians, freedoms are nowhere to be found on that agenda. Not personal liberties, not any right to knowledge of wrongdoing by the government, not even those few explicit freedoms detailed in the bill of rights.

    You’re allowed to talk because it keeps you passive. So be a good citizen. Keep talking.

  19. There is more than just the notion of government transparency involved here. When you are seeking to make peace with your neighbor, it is ill-advised to offer to show him naked pictures of his wife.

  20. I am not a fan of Obama and I did not vote for him (or McCain). However, withholding these documents is an incredibly smart move. This has nothing to do with openness and politics. Torture is wrong and stupid and we should stop doing it, yes I’d agree. As a country, we should move on from the practice of torture, and I think Obama is doing that. But releasing this information only serves to help terrorist recruitment.

    I believe that Obama’s administration understands the impact this information would have as propaganda for Islamic radicals. Pictures and videos of Muslim men being tortured by the United States would be used just as the pictures from Abu Ghraib were used on websites by Islamic extremists. It is that type of propaganda which inspires radical-leaning Muslims to join the Jihad.

    Obama is trying to heal the wounds from the Bush Administration and move on, forging a new relationship with the Muslim world. Releasing these documents and videos opens old wounds and only would spur greater outrage.

    1. Obama is trying to heal the wounds from the Bush Administration and move on, forging a new relationship with the Muslim world.

      Except we seem to still be torturing people. We’re just doing it in the other side of the world now. It doesn’t work to sew up the wound unless you get all the pus out first.

  21. Color me shocked, SHOCKED that he would choose (again) to avoid transparency in the name of (gulp) National Security! And on Leon Panetta’s recommendation no less…

    Who knew Leon was Bush-era hold-over?

    AVRAMsaid:

    The point of posts like these is to spread the news about Obama not living up to his campaign rhetoric about openness and transparency.

    Thanks, the effort is appreciated.

  22. Torture is illegal. That makes the destruction of those videos the crime of destroying evidence, and hiding the transcripts is aising and abetting.

  23. Did you ever stop and think if the people who were detained, abused, and tortured, want the photos of said treatment published?

    Do. Not. Be. A. Fuckin’. Idiot.

  24. People keep talking about “terrorism” as if it’s a legitimate reason for state-vs.-state warfare. States went to all the trouble of defining “terrorism” as something states can never do, but almost all their real disputes are with each other, so they stand on their heads and blame each other for this non-state “terrorism.” And fight stupid endless wars in Asia.

    “Our side” lost the moral high ground as soon as 3,000 civilians died in Afghanistan. This whole stupid movie should have ended then.

  25. Of course! Duhhh! Obama, shmobama, he’s working for the gummint . He’s not going to magically change all the nasty things that many people have had a stake in for a long, long time. If he did , he’d be executed immediately.

  26. Brainspore@11: Good idea. I have that DVD so if you can’t find the scene maybe I’ll rip and upload it later.

    Did you upload it?

    for those just tuning in, it’s the scene from Brazil where the protagonist first goes to the torture office, we hear screems coming from the other room, a stegonographer is typing the screams, the torture guy comes out covered in blood, gives a jolly handshake to the protagonist, adn then sits down to play with his daughter with her dollies.

    If anyone can find it on youtube, lemme know.

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