“It’s no coincidence that Obama uses ‘folks’ to refer both to the people tortured and the people doing the torturing. Both uses are distancing and anonymous. There’s no mention of the individuals who were made to undergo simulated drowning (some over a hundred times) or the specific people who signed off on these procedures.
People in both groups have names. And neither group can be accurately treated as a mere matter of historical debate. The torturers have a present, stretching into a future – they walk about, free from legal and social penalties. The victims of tortures have a different present – many of them still incarcerated, some undergoing further agonies – restrained, with feeding tubes forced down their noses, procedures which the United Nations has labeled torture, and which prompted a Navy nurse to refuse to participate in force feeding).
Nevertheless, Obama’s rhetoric consigns them firmly to the past, impossible to interact with. Only a little tweaking is needed to imagine Barabas’s protest from The Jew of Malta in Obama’s mouth: ‘Torture? But that was in another country; and besides the wench is dead.'”