Tuesday, May 03, 2011

"Today is a good day"--some further comments

It's more than appropriate that, just as I started this post, John Adams' musical tribute to the victims of September 11, "On the Transmigration of Souls," began playing in my iTunes.

The tone of my previous post notwithstanding, I have a mix of feelings about the killing of bin Laden. I'm not alone in this; Aaron over at Zunguzungu sums them up well.

I would much prefer that Obama continue to find more peaceful means to demonstrate his presidential bona fides, and that his political and policy opponents see those means as valid. I'm not at all happy that this event has justified or vindicated, in the minds of some, the use of torture to obtain intelligence. It in fact appears to be the case that torture didn't produce the information that set this operation into motion (more here--and, as final proof, here's Donald Rumsfeld saying torture didn't yield this information--on Newsmax, no less). Still--just as Aaron and others have noted--do we really want to codify actions of this sort as justice? As exempla of American values?

I admit to being an optimist, though, especially where this president is concerned. Maybe this event's extreme nature will give Obama some future leverage in debates concerning how to prosecute terrorism cases: He can point to this event in his arguments with the chest-thumpers that he's no wimp but that, by the same token, we neither can nor should go tearing around the world shooting bad guys or, for that matter, jail all of them indefinitely without trials (preferably civilian ones). He's not afraid of going after these people, he can now say; why are all of you so willing to act from a position adopted out of fear? That's right: call them cowards. Point to the facts that our civilian trials, for all their coddling of the accused via acknowledging their rights, have thus far been far more successful in convicting and imprisoning terrorists than the allegedly less-coddling military courts have, and that we already have convicted terrorists in prisons in this country, not one of whom has even tried to escape. Etc., etc.

Maybe, in other words, as many have suggested, Obama can finally begin to get us out of this defensive, cowering crouch we've been in for the past 10 years.

I for one would really like to stretch my legs a bit. Maybe you don't know it yet--it's hard to remember, after so long, what that would feel like--but you probably would, too.

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