Excerpted from Kossack and Justice Department attorney Lars Thorwald’s DKos diary on Obama’s speech:
I heard a level of determination in his voice that I think some could reasonably interpret as being tinged with a bit of pique over the political silliness of the last few weeks.
Of course, the President used carefully weighed language, but I think his message was clear on those matters in which he was determined to set forth policy. True to Obama: steel determination wrapped in a velvet glove.
Where he wanted to be, the President was certain and clear and unwavering. For instance, he forcefully declared that we will close the prison at Guantanamo–delivering that message without hesitation or reservation.
The message between the lines was, hey, you scairdy-cat and illogical Congress critters can sort of suck it if you think otherwise. Some of these detainees are going to SuperMax prisons. You’d best learn to deal with it. So he took some in his own party to task in that measured, reasoned way that is becoming Obama’s hallmark.
But here’s the point: although Obama’s speech was powerful enough that he could have declared that there will be no further investigation or examination of the legality or illegality of the use of torture, and even though he did declare set positions on several key issues, I did not hear such foreclosure with regard to possible prosecutions.
I know that these debates lead directly to a call for a fuller accounting, perhaps through an Independent Commission.
I have opposed the creation of such a Commission because I believe that our existing democratic institutions are strong enough to deliver accountability. The Congress can review abuses of our values, and there are ongoing inquiries by the Congress into matters like enhanced interrogation techniques. The Department of Justice and our courts can work through and punish any violations of our laws.
That passage packs a significant amount of punch. A significant amount.
That statement, that language quoted above, was reviewed and approved by more than Obama and Rahm and Jon Favreau. You can rest assured that the language of that speech was vetted within the White House and by the Attorney General, by State and DOD, CIA and NSA. Presidents do not give a speech of such importance without serious review of what will be said. Okay, maybe the last one didn’t. But I assure you this one does.
So it has meaning, and, I would contend, real meaning.
Some will interpret this passage as an abandonment of a Truth Commission (which the President never wanted), and thus an abandonment of the idea at getting at the truth, and grow discouraged.
I think the President rejected a Truth Commission for two fundamental reasons: he rejected it as a matter of process because he believes it can be addressed elsewhere in government; and he rejected it because the idea of establishing a Truth Commission in such a charged atmosphere would be tantamount to–if I may mix metaphors for a moment–ringing the dinner bell on a three-ring circus in this town at a time where the oxygen required to keep messaging, and thus policy, alive and well would be sucked up.