Obama & Torture, Version 2

May 13, 2009 at 10:56 am | Posted in Barack Obama, Torture | Leave a comment
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How will Obama come down on the release of the abuse photos?  It’s a tough call because Obama has been a leading voice on government transparency, a hallmark of his campaign, but these photos can potentially, as Sens. Lieberman and Graham said in a joint statement yesterday:

“…serve no public good, but will empower al-Qaeda propaganda operations, hurt our country’s image, and endanger our men and women in uniform.”

Even if Obama had wanted to release the photos, the decision couldn’t have come at a worse time. Thanks to Dick Cheney, torture is dominating news headlines, creating an atmosphere of hypersensitivity to past mistakes made in Bush’s War on Terror. If more news of abuse were unleashed, it would surely inject a shot of adrenaline into an already fiery torture debate.

The priority for Obama is to get the WH back to dictating the news cycle and back to discussing today, not yesterday. My guess is that Obama will be forced to pick the lesser of two evils: renege on a campaign promise over the risk of getting sidelined by public hysteria over the abuse photos. It’s a tough call, but Obama can’t afford another news cycle lost in the whirl pool of the torture debate nor can he keep playing second fiddle to Dick Cheney across headlines and air waves, especially on topics that are, in fact, yesterday’s news.

Update: Obama blocks release of abuse photos.  AP makes a good point that “the administration has also found a way to avoid distribution of the photographs just before Obama travels to Egypt to speak directly to Muslim.”

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