Digby notices that there’s a growing Establishment chorus calling for a continuation of the torture regime. This week it’s Stuart Taylor in Newsweek. Meanwhile, Obama tells George Stephanopoulos he’s not particularly invested in holding those who ordered torture accountable. I can’t say that if I were Obama I wouldn’t be tempted to make a similar decision: it’s easy to justify saving political capital to expend solely on the economic recovery and draw-down in Iraq.
But here’s my fear. Remember during the summer, when oil was $140 a barrel, how airlines started charging for each checked bag? It seemed to make sense at the time: bags weigh a plane down and necessitate more fuel consumption. It’s possible to ignore that marginal cost when fuel is cheap, but when fuel is very expensive a surcharge seems appropriate. But: have you noticed that fuel costs have dropped 70% and yet airlines are still charging for checked bags? Can you imagine them deciding to stop charging for bags anytime soon?
There’s a very, very worrying possibility that this kind of inertia will set in with our torture regime: something born of crisis embeds itself and becomes normalized.
Which is why accountability and investigation are absolutely necessary morally, legally and politically. The torture regime needs to be de-normalized. Short of that, what’s needed are a series of immediate actions in the early days of the Obama administration that definitively break with the Bush/Cheney war crimes going forward. Whether the later will be effective without the former is a vexing question (I don’t think it will), but if we don’t even get the latter, then it’s time to really worry.