Monday, January 26, 2009

Sullivan on War Crimes.

Andrew Sullivan is that rarest of things; a Republican who I often find myself in agreement with.

Here he talks of the Bush regime and their penchant for torture:

The men who ordered a man tied to a chair, doused in water, and chilled to hypothermia so intense he had to be rushed to emergency medical care, the men who presided over at least two dozen and at most a hundred prisoners tortured to death, the men who ordered an American servicewoman to smear fake menstrual blood over a Muslim's face in order to win a war against Jihadism, the men who ordered innocents stripped naked, sexually abused, terrified by dogs, or cast into darkness with no possibility of a future, and did all this in the name of the Constitution of the United States, the men who gave the signal in wartime that there were no limits to what could be done to prisoners of war and reaped a whirlwind of abuse and torture that will haunt American servicemembers for decades: these men will earn the judgment of history. It will be brutal.
And he destroys the argument, put forward by Cheney and others, that the regime sought legal clarification that what they were doing was lawful.
That Bush and Cheney got hacks to write absurd legal memos saying that, in Bush's own words, "whatever we wanted to do" was legal will mean nothing. Yoo and Bybee are the kind of useful, amoral sycophants and apparatchiks that always emerge and flourish in lawless states eager to put up a facade of legalism to defend their power-grabs.
He then argues, as I do, that any prosecution should be at the top of the food chain rather than of the CIA grunts who carried out the dirty work after being assured that what they were doing was legal.
I do not believe in a witch-hunt in the CIA, whose many hard-working officers deserve support not censure. I do believe in holding responsible those high elected officials who broke the law and violated the Constitution in authorizing war crimes. It should take as much time as needed for a thorough accounting; it should be meticulously fair; it should be geared solely to ensure that the rule of law is no longer in question; and that only those truly responsible at the top of the chain of command are held liable. But if we do not hold these men to account, the precedent they set is alarming.
He appears to have much more faith than I do that prosecutions will take place. But it's wonderful to hear a Republican (albeit a Republican with a small "r") argue that - for all of our sakes - this disgraceful precedent must not be allowed to stand.


Charles Schumer has let it be known that he favours prosecution:
Echoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's words one week ago, New York Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday that he could support prosecution for Bush officials that participated in torture or broke other laws.

"If there are egregious cases, I don't think you can say, blanket, no prosecutions," Schumer told Fox's Chris Wallace Sunday morning. "If there are egregious cases, yes, you have to look at them."

And so it comes to this:
Any Israeli soldiers accused of war crimes in the Gaza Strip will be given state protection from prosecution overseas, the country's PM has said.

Ehud Olmert said troops should know Israel would keep them safe after they acted to protect their country.
Please note that Olmert makes no promise that the charges will even be examined, he simply offers a blanket pledge that anyone charged with war crimes will be given full state protection.

It is to be expected that nutters like O'Reilly make rash statements demanding that torture continue as official US policy, but to hear an elected leader make the case that anyone suspected of war crimes will receive the full backing of the state - and I have to assume that this means whether guilty or not - is truly shocking.

If Obama is serious about restoring the US's image as a nation which respects the law, then one of the places he needs to address this is in the field of international law, for it was there that Bush carried out his most egregious assaults.


This is what was done. Warning: Some of this is harrowing. But I would challenge anyone to tell me that this is not torture.

Click title for Sullivan's article.

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