Obama torture-watch

As a result of George Bush exporting people to foreign countries to be tortured, this is what happened to an Ethiopian man, Binyam Mohammed:

The court papers describe horrific treatment in secret prisons. Mr. Mohamed claimed that during his detention in Morocco, "he was routinely beaten, suffering broken bones and, on occasion, loss of consciousness. His clothes were cut off with a scalpel and the same scalpel was then used to make incisions on his body, including his penis. A hot stinging liquid was then poured into open wounds on his penis where he had been cut. He was frequently threatened with rape, electrocution and death."

Mohammed is, as he should, suing Boeing for flying him to Morocco to be tortured. George Bush tried to block the suit, under the theory that it would compromise "state secrets." I know of no single area where we need to see more change, more departure from the past eight years, than in our government's craven embrace of torture. In this case, Obama, for now, disagrees:

During the campaign, Mr. Obama harshly criticized the Bush administration's treatment of detainees, and he has broken with that administration on questions like whether to keep open the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But a government lawyer, Douglas N. Letter, made the same state-secrets argument on Monday, startling several judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

"Is there anything material that has happened" that might have caused the Justice Department to shift its views, asked Judge Mary M. Schroeder, an appointee of President Jimmy Carter, coyly referring to the recent election.

"No, your honor," Mr. Letter replied.

Judge Schroeder asked, "The change in administration has no bearing?"

Once more, he said, "No, Your Honor." The position he was taking in court on behalf of the government had been "thoroughly vetted with the appropriate officials within the new administration," and "these are the authorized positions," he said.

I'm not one of these people who was about to scrutinize every cabinent pick Obama made to measure their exact lefty quotient. I don't believe in all of this "right wing of the Democratic party" talk. But implicitly supporting people who would take a razor to man's genitals, is, by the lights of Obama's own campaign rhetoric, disgraceful. Andrew thinks we should slow down, given that we don't know how it all will shake out. I think there may be something to that. But I also think there's something to raising the volume, to making it sure this doesn't slip through the cracks while the country is focused on the economu.