Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor
"I see the better way and approve it, but I follow the worse way."
Those Brits with their Latin tags! (I'm old enough to remember when reading the Guardian (and Atrios) was the only way to get news on Iraq. And now I read the FT (and Yves) to get news on finance. Plus ça "change," plus c'est la même chose...) Here's a good deal of Willem Buiter's column today, in what Yves labels a "must read":
The spinelessness and moral cowardice of the Obama administration know no bounds. The Bush-Cheney team ordered the torture and abuse of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and assorted other locations abroad - offshore detention without trial as well as torture by US officials or persons acting under their instructions being permitted by Article VIII of the United States Constitution, as confirmed in the XXVIIIth Amendment to the US Constitution.
Candidate Obama declares he abhors torture and deplores what went on in Gitmo and in secret detention centres around the world, but President Obama decides that the Camp may have to remain open for another year, as he doesn’t seem to know what to do with the prisoners. The right thing to do would have been to send a plane to Guantánamo Bay Naval Base on the day of his inauguration, to move all the prisoners to the USA.
President Obama then also decides not to prosecute those who committed the crimes of torture or abuse of prisoners or were responsible for these crimes. The president’s excuse was was that he sought to turn the page on “a dark and painful chapter”. It was a “time for reflection, not for retribution”, he said.
He is quite wrong. Reflection complements the law. It is not a substitute for it. Those who can be charged with these offences should be tried and, if found guilty, punished according to the law. If among the guilty parties are CIA agents and former vice-president Dick Cheney, then so be it. If you cannot do the time, you should not do the crime. This is not vengeance, it is justice - and it is the law. Justice must be done and must be seen to be done before healing and reconciliation can start. ...
The right and legal thing to do would be to take all the prisoners to the US, charge those who can be charged and release those who cannot be charged. Those who can be sent back to their countries of origin without endangering their safety can be sent back. The rest should be allowed to stay in the US (the principle in question is: ‘you break it, you own it’). Those charged then should be tried in a proper US court, not one of the kangaroo quasi-military tribunals created by Bush and Cheney. If convicted, they should serve their time, or pay with their lives, as the case may be. If acquitted they should be released. That is the rule of law. It is also the right and moral thing to do.
With Bush and Cheney, one often had the sense that they did not know what was wrong and what was right. Obama clearly knows the difference, but knowingly chooses the wrong option: video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor.
Exactly the same as single payer.
The physical safety and security of the American people should not be the first and overriding concern of the US president. Preserving our freedom, as set out in the Bill of Rights, is. Hundreds of thousands have died to preserve that liberty. During World War II alone more than 400,000 Americans gave their lives in the cause of freedom.
To Patrick Henry is attributed the famous saying: “Give me Liberty, or give me Death”. The moral midgets and yellow-bellies in the US Senate and White House today would have said instead: “Give me security and comfort or I will curl up in a ball and refuse to vote for you again”.
Fear is a poor guide to policy. It caused the US to launch an unnecessary second war against Iraq and it led its leaders to compromise the most important principles on which the country was founded. The fear-induced response of the US authorities to the murderous outrages perpetrated by Al-Queda has turned out to be a much more serious threat to what is best about the US than Al-Queda itself. Bush, Cheney and now also Obama and Reid represent a greater threat to my liberty and fundamental rights as a citizen and a human being than Osama bin Laden and his mindless murderers.
The US president and the majority leader in the US Senate have torn up the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, supposedly in the interest of the nation’s security and to preserve the safety of its people. I hope the blind fear that has de-activated the moral antennae of the American people will subside to the point that a majority will join me in loudly and clearly telling the country’s leadership that its depredations against the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are not in our name.
There could not be a more appropriate Memorial Day message.