“We tortured some folks” after 9/11, President Barack Obama told reporters during an August 1 news conference. “We did some things that were contrary to our values.”
Those few words reopened the debate on the enhanced interrogation methods used by the United States in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
After Obama’s August 1 press conference, The Nation published a six-frame cartoon capturing how he has rationalized his administration’s and the Bush administration’s use of torture; each frame shows how hollow staunch, anti-terror proponents lead to the admission of “We tortured some folks.”
The comic, taken as a whole, serves as an argument for why those critical of the president’s justifications are not “too sanctimonious.” And it also provides a critique of a longstanding habit of United States government to ignore the country’s own human rights violations. It could be argued that such an analysis is unnecessary now that the Central Intelligence Agency has discontinued its terrorist detention and interrogation program, which existed from 2002 to 2009. But given that the Senate is preparing to release a redacted version of its report on the CIA’s now-defunct program, while the president has simultaneously sought to end the conversation on the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by acknowledging that “we tortured some folks,” the situation begs for a brief reflection on the subject.
Obama has made it an expressed mission of his administration to rehabilitate the United States’ image as the world’s moral standard-bearer. And with the research that has emerged regarding the CIA’s use of torture and the effectiveness of such methods, Obama must do more than say “we tortured some folks” and ambiguously urge greater responsibility of the American people.