Revolution #164, May 17, 2009


The Torture Memos

The coverage in this issue of Revolution of the Bush regime lawyers’ “torture memos” is of special significance to readers. These memos, released last month, legalized the torture by the U.S. of thousands in the wake of 9/11. And while Obama has promised that the U.S. will now discontinue torture, he has also emphatically opposed further legal investigation and any prosecution of those who developed and carried out these crimes. And Obama has stated that the torturers will not be prosecuted.

In response, there must be continuing efforts to get the truth out to people about these criminals and the brutal methods they legalized and sponsored. Most people have no idea of the scope and meaning of these crimes; they must be informed.  Those who “don’t want to know,” must be challenged. And all that must serve building mass political struggle to demand that these criminals of the highest order (and on the highest levels of society) be tried and punished for their criminal acts.

To do less is unconscionable. Barack Obama has said this is a time for “reflection, not retribution.” NO, this is not a time for reflection, or a time to put this Bush torture era “behind us” in the interests of “uniting the American people” and “repairing the U.S. image in the world.” This is a time to make the horrific reality of the torture of prisoners in Guantánamo—and in U.S. run and sponsored prisons around the world—known to millions. And—again—this is a time to organize and spread resistance and demand the prosecution of these criminals and to demand justice.

Key to this is distributing Revolution newspaper far and wide: Get this paper (and its on line edition) into the hands of thousands. Go deeply into the articles here, discussing them in small and large groups. And yes, challenge people and wage sharp struggle with those who have been silent or indifferent to not turn their heads away when confronted with the horrible reality of what their government is responsible for.

As the lead article in this issue says, “Let’s make it plain: torture is, literally and in essence, a crime against humanity. Like rape, it is a systematic attempt to violently degrade people and rob them of their very humanity. Any government which not only tolerates such things but which, from its highest offices, justifies and insists on them as ‘instruments of policy’...any government which does not, once this has been exposed, prosecute the perpetrators but instead provides them in advance with immunity...reveals itself as a system that requires such crimes, and such criminals, for its functioning. Any people that does not resist such crimes, and demand prosecution of the torturers and, even more so, those who formulated the policy at the highest levels, reveals themselves to be complicit in those crimes. And in passively allowing the humanity of others to be degraded and attacked, they lose their own.”

From the perspective of building a revolutionary movement aimed at a world where no human will subject another to these brutalities, to torture or any other violent repression, there is urgent importance to acting now. There is a moment to seize, to draw a sharp dividing line—exposing and isolating those who represent a world of oppression and exploitation backed by legions of killers and torturers who enforce all these relations. Such exposure will fill people with an irresistible urge to protest, to demand the prosecution and punishment of the torturers and those who gave them their orders.

In this light, the actions called for by World Can’t Wait for May 28 take on great importance.  (See Torture is a war crime! Prosecute! Thursday MAY 28—National Day of Resistance to U.S. TORTURE!) All those who are outraged, who cannot sit by while their government lets these criminals and killers go free, with impunity, should be organizing for and actively building for these demonstrations wherever they are.

There is infighting over these memos in the ranks of the ruling class over how to repair the image of U.S. imperialism, cohere the allegiance of people who hated Bush, and to do this while essentially pursuing the objectives Bush represented. From the perspective of building a revolutionary movement, these fissures in the ruling class could provide real openings for the anger and resistance of the masses to break through. It is this we must work for, from the strategic perspective of hastening the development of a revolutionary situation, shaping as much as possible the political terms of things and gathering revolutionary forces, even as we are tensely awaiting and preparing for further breaks and crises in the situation overall that will be brought on by the system’s own dynamics.

As the article “The Torture Memos…And the Need for Justice,” concludes: “[I]f people DO resist, if they DO demand that the criminals be prosecuted and wage a serious political struggle to make that happen, it can be the beginning of a struggle that can, among other things, lead to the beginnings and possibility of real justice—and not some phony, feel-good, ‘let’s-forget-about-the-past-and-move-on’ so-called redemption and/or ‘reconciliation’ that only ultimately enables still more, and still worse, crimes by the bloody criminal enterprise known as America.”

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