Torture trumps privacy -

Torture trumps privacy

Stan Ward

Stan Ward

December 15, 2014

What is the significance of the release to the world of the CIA torture report, and what does it possibly mean for personal privacy?

On the face of it, the hope is that by revealing such a detailed account of inhumane treatment, albeit about suspected terrorists, that countries like the US has owned up to its abuses and won’t tolerate such actions in the future.

This is of course good news for personal privacy and liberty, but there are those who question the timing of the release of the report, claiming its revelation by the Obama administration is designed to deflect attention from its record as the worst administration in history in the area of intrusion on personal privacy.

It is undeniable that the lengths that government spy agencies and law enforcement have gone to invade privacy in personal communication during this administration is unprecedented in human history, and the government has been taken to task on this, even if it has not yet been held to account. But the release of CIA “enhanced interrogation techniques” (read, torture) just happens to coincide with Democrats being swept from office and a presidency under siege. It is no secret that the president is a lame duck, and that the jockeying for position for the 2016 race has begun. If the Democrats wish to soften the stinging rebuke it just received from voters, the presumptive nominee will have to distance himself from Obama’s unpopular policies and unpopularity in general. What better way to deflect attention from Obama than to resurrect George W. Bush?

No one expected Obama to one-up Bush when it came to surveillance, but that’s exactly what happened. Make no mistake, cloaked in the national security rhetoric, Bush did an end-run around the Constitution when it came to violating individual’s rights claiming the targets and suspects posed a danger to national security. Bush was characterized as so draconian that Obama was able to ride into the White House on a promise to be transparent. Six years into his presidency his campaign promises ring hollow as the country is mired in surveillance muck and its allies are up in arms over the spying.

That’s why the release of the Senate report at this time is so suspicious. Almost overnight the administration is out of the spotlight as it pertains to policy, while the world conveniently clamors for revenge against Bush/Cheney and their henchmen. If this momentum shift can last, the Democrats will have effectively reshaped the landscape for Obama’s last hurrah and put a cast-iron ball around Republican necks.

It’s ironic that an abominable issue such as torture can deflect the heat of anti-privacy policies of the past six years. But it will also likely scuttle any action on privacy legislation in the near future as politicians run for political cover.