Good omens

So, a couple of days ago I posted about human rights and the Obama administration. And today's news brought some good news. Via Politico:

The incoming head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen, is a sharp critic of the office's performance under President Bush, and made the case for a much more muscular, confrontational role in a long law review article published last year.

The appointment of Johnsen, a professor at the University of Indiana, will give comfort to critics of the Bush Administration's torture policy, as her article is cast as an examination of that office's failures to stop what Johnsen sees as "abuses" and "illegal practices" in the Bush Administration's torture policy.

You know who used to work for the OLC? That would be John Yoo. We just talked about him.

Just as encouraging is the choice of Leon Panetta to be the head of the CIA. The CIA (as I'm sure you know) was where John McCain, staunch opponent of torture, decided to derail the Straight Talk Express. Via Ambinder, one can read this article for the Washington Monthly, penned by Panetta himself:

We have preached these values to the world. We have made clear that there are certain lines Americans will not cross because we respect the dignity of every human being. That pledge was written into the oath of office given to every president, "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution." It's what is supposed to make our leaders different from every tyrant, dictator, or despot. We are sworn to govern by the rule of law, not by brute force.

We cannot simply suspend these beliefs in the name of national security. Those who support torture may believe that we can abuse captives in certain select circumstances and still be true to our values. But that is a false compromise. We either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don't. There is no middle ground.

We cannot and we must not use torture under any circumstances. We are better than that.

I am heartened to see these appointments. It validates my belief that Obama is the kind of man I believed him to be.

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