Human Rights Speculation

As a candidate, Mr. Obama said the CIA’s interrogation program should adhere to the same rules that apply to the military, which would prohibit the use of techniques such as waterboarding. He has also said the program should be investigated.

The new president could take a similar approach to revising the rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official familiar with the transition. Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight. (WSJ, h/t Jamelle).

One probably shouldn’t leap to conclusions based on unsourced reports about what a president who has yet to be inaugurated might do, based on his choice of people in a transition team.  So I won’t use this moment to speculate about whether that decision would merit a protest vote in 2012, etc.

But torture is the type of issue that a good administration would never consider compromising on.  And if you want to defend these tactics, and claim they’re not torture, make the case upfront, instead of the two sets of rules cop out (and leave waterboarding off the table–I have zero doubt that it’s categorically unacceptable). 

Talk is cheap, but here’s an Amnesty International Petition to call on Obama to close Guantanamo, ban harsh interrogation tactics and establish a commission to investigate previous human rights abuses in the war on terror, and to do those things in the first 100 days.  There are worse things you could ineffectually vent about.

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