Whatever one makes of conflicting media reports regarding the Obama Administration's likely position on torture, if Michael Isikoff is correct in reporting that Eric Holder will be the new Attorney General it's probably a good sign that Obama really does intend to abandon the Bush torture policy.
Eric H. Holder Jr., Deputy Attorney General during the Clinton administration, asserted in a speech to the American Constitution Society (ACS) that the United States must reverse “the disastrous course” set by the Bush administration in the struggle against terrorism by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, declaring without qualification that the U.S. does not torture people, ending the practice of transferring individuals involuntarily to countries that engage in torture and ceasing warrantless domestic surveillance.
“Our needlessly abusive and unlawful practices in the ‘War on Terror' have diminished our standing in the world community and made us less, rather than more, safe,” Holder told a packed room at the ACS 2008 Convention on Friday evening. “For the sake of our safety and security, and because it is the right thing to do, the next president must move immediately to reclaim America's standing in the world as a nation that cherishes and protects individual freedom and basic human rights.”
There's a video of Holder's speech to ACS here, from which Ackerman provides a partial transcript:
“We owe the American people a reckoning. It is our responsibility as citizens to preserve and protect our constitution… Let me be clear: I firmly believe that there is evil in the world, and that we still face grave dangers to our security. But our ability to lead the world in combatting these dangers depends not only on the strength of our military leadership but our moral leadership as well. … To recapture it, we can no longer allow ourselves to be ruled by fear. We must evaluate our policies and our practices in the harsh light of day and steel ourselves to face the world’s dangers in accord with the rule of law.”
Pretty good stuff. Of course, Isikoff may be jumping the gun. If that's the case, hopefully Holder's views on torture are consistent with the other candidates being considered.