Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Visual: The Problem of “Only Looking Forward” on Torture

Daily Kos has a timeline as far as we now know, about the U.S. and  torture after 9/11.  The website of Foreign Policy now has a timeline, too.  I hope the mainstream media, special prosecutors, and the ICC are paying attention.to the timelines.

When you only look forward, things get you from behind!


April 27, 2009 - Posted by | torture


  1. OK OK I guess it’s photo shopped … but – ow!!

    I can’t imagine the mainstream media, special prosecutors, and the ICC as a dear little robin…

    Comment by steph | April 27, 2009

  2. Actually, Steph, if it’s photo-shopped it was not by me. I found the photo on the web and it seemed to me a good symbol of the foolishness of “looking forward and not backward.” That has been the motto, not of the ICC, but of the Obama administration. I meant this as a warning–with gallows humor.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 27, 2009

  3. No I know you wouldn’t be so cruel to a robin as to invent such a grotesque illusion 😉

    However I didn’t know that “looking forward and not backward” has been the motto of the Obama administration. I understood the warning as black humour though… (oh poor robin!)

    Comment by steph | April 27, 2009

  4. Ir has been their motto vis-a-vis the Bush admin., but since the release of the torture memos, it is getting more and more pushback from the public.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 27, 2009

  5. A wise person practices circumspection, but as John Updike once said,”There are people in this world who never knew what hit’em”.

    Comment by Paul | April 27, 2009

  6. It is after all almost synonymous with ‘change’…

    I heard the tail end of an interview this morning in which they said that while the Bush administration once denied that they were using torture at Abu Grad, they then tried to deny what they did constituted torture when it became obvious through the memos that they used these ‘techniques’ but now that they can’t deny those techniques are torture, they’re trying to argue that it worked, therefore it was legitimate. Didn’t America execute Japanese for waterboarding American prisoners during WWII?

    Comment by steph | April 27, 2009

  7. Yes, Steph, we executed at least one Japanese soldier and imprisoned several for waterboarding both American and British soldiers.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 27, 2009

  8. Off topic but mum just told me this morning – she went to ‘Shakespeare in the Cathedral’ with her friends and their friends, an American couple who spend six months here a year… Afterwards they were talking about Tom Hanks (who mum adores) and the American couple said he was fine until he went and voted for Obama(!) and then they started ranting against his pulling out of Iraq. When mum said they should never have been in the first place, they defended Bush by saying Saddam had bombed the twin towers… Mum got absolutely furious and the conversation ended. Mum’s friends wouldn’t dare offend this couple but mum is 84 and says what she thinks. The American husband is a forensic psychologist, obviously with a brain the size of a pea. I can’t believe such a right wing pro Bush couple would have the gall to come here and then have the ignorance to bring up their ugly politics and still believe such a blatant myth. I didn’t think anyone in America still believed that lie.

    Comment by steph | April 27, 2009

  9. About 15-20% of Americans still think Saddam was connected with 9/11. It’s the people who listent to rightwing A.M. talk radio and watch Fox News. But what was really scary living here was that about 40% still believed that Saddam and al-Qaeda were in cahoots in 2004! (No wonder Kerry lost.)

    But it’s funny about this couple ranting about pulling out of Iraq because Obama is following the schedule Bush negotiated with the Iraqis last year and which has won more praise from Republicans than Democrats–who would like a faster withdrawal.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 28, 2009

  10. I think in their obvious ignorance they would criticise anything Obama did ignoring what it actually was…

    I can’t believe those horrible statistics. To think that I don’t think most of us in the rest of the world (except perhaps Tony Blair himself) EVER believed either of those things. Does Fox News actually still espouse those lies or does it just ignore the truth and not admit its previous errors? I wonder if anyone still believes al-Qaeda and Saddam were in cahoots.

    Comment by steph | April 28, 2009

  11. Steph, never underestimate the ability of people to believe weird things. There are people who continue to believe conspiracy theories about JFK’s assassination. Some people believe in UFOs. (You’d think we were in the center of the universe, instead of at the far end of 1 spiral of the Milky Way!) Some people refuse to believe that Obama was born in Hawai’i and insist that he was born in Kenya (his mother never went there!), is a naturalized citizen of the U.S. and, thus, constitutionally unqualifed to be president. (These nutjobs are called “birthers” and keep trying to get the courts to force Obama to show them his original birth certificate. (Hawai’i only releases copies.) Some folk continue to believe Jerry Falwell’s fantasy that Bill Clinton committed murder and covered it up when he was governor of Arkansas! Some people continue to believe that humans never landed on the moon–it was all faked in a movie studio.

    This goes to the “integrity of information” variable in the perception dimension of the 4 dimensions of moral discernment.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 28, 2009

  12. I haven’t heard the one about Clinton! I thought it was only the very few flat earthers who believed those things. Yes – are they open to new information and do they have their predetermined answer and how do they deal with contradicting views…

    Comment by steph | April 28, 2009

  13. Michael, you might be interested in reading some new essays by conservatives responding to Charles Krauthammer’s recent article published in the Weekly Standard entitled, “The Truth About Torture.” I think what you will find is that conservative Christians are thinking much more deeply about the issue of torture than you have previously given them credit for. You may not agree with many of their points, but I do think they are worth considering (if not simply for the value of understanding the conservative Christian’s thought process).

    Here is the link to the article, where the essays can be downloaded:


    Comment by D.R. Randle | April 28, 2009

  14. Thanks, D.R. I dislike Krauthammer, but I’ll read the article. As you know, your former teacher and my friend, Dave Gushee, founded Evangelicals for Human Rights in 2006 to oppose torture, so I have always known that THEOLOGICALLY conservative Christians were not all of one mind on this issue. And now, despite the apologists in the media, 71% of Americans now agree with U.S. and international law that waterboarding is torture, so I’ll expect that many of those are self-described conservative Christians.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 28, 2009

  15. Michael,

    Was my comment disallowed/censured?

    Comment by Chuck | May 4, 2009

  16. Chuck, what was it. Try again. Unless it was profane or nasty, I didn’t deliberately delete it. I don’t like defenses of torture anymore than defense of slavery, but I don’t think I deliberately deleted you anymore than any other.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | May 4, 2009

  17. Okay. Perhaps the system was acting strange when I submitted it, come to think of it. The comment was there and not there, if you know what I mean.

    For the record, it was sarcastic, snide and, I trust, witty. Just as you’d expect, only more so. 🙂


    Comment by Chuck | May 6, 2009

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