The State of the Union

Updated
By Jonathan Larsen

Tomorrow is President Obama’s State of the Union speech. If he loses this year’s presidential election, it will be his last. At some point tomorrow, precedent suggests, Pres. Obama will use the phrase, “The state of the union is strong.”

Is it?

Strength is more than just the capacity for force. Strength is also the capacity for moral bravery. Strength is the tolerance for risk. Judging by the capacity for force, the state of the American union is strong. By other criteria, the strength of our union is less clear.

On Friday, Jan. 13, Chris spoke with Lakhdar Boumediene, who had spent more than seven years imprisoned by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. He was never charged with a crime. A cut-down version of the interview aired the following day and we were glad to see it get some attention. But this is history. So we wanted to ensure that people have access not just to the excerpts we were able to air. So here–edited only for narrative chronology (i.e., Chris asked a followup about torture at the end that we moved up to the portion of the interview on that specific topic)–is the full version of Chris’s discussion with Lakhdar Boumediene.

We know it won’t change anything–and we’re well aware that both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are the reason Pres. Obama has been unable to fulfill his pledge to shut Guantanamo Bay’s detention facilities–but we think it’s important, as the nation assesses tomorrow’s State of the Union speech, to keep in mind that strength means more than imposing ourselves upon others by force. That sometimes, doing so makes us weaker.

Jonathan Larsen is the executive producer of Up w/ Chris Hayes. You can follow him on Twitter @JTLarsen.

SOTU, Guantanamo and Barack Obama

The State of the Union

Updated