Monday, August 10, 2009

Tortured Logic.

The ACLU have put out a new video in which Oliver Stone and others read out passages from the notorious torture memos to raise public awareness of what was done; and to, hopefully, put pressure on Holder to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration’s crimes.


There is ample evidence already in the public domain that the widespread and systemic torture of detainees was authorized at the highest levels of the Bush administration. This evidence comes from congressional reports, the torture memos themselves and even the boastful admissions of officials including former vice president Dick Cheney, who has been aggressively forthright in his defense of waterboarding. But notwithstanding all this evidence, there are still those who would reduce the authorization of these crimes by government officials to discretionary policy decisions. This cannot be the case in a nation where the rule of law means anything.

It is a core premise of our democracy that in America, no one is above the law, regardless of rank or position. Going after those who carried out illegal orders while shielding those who actually gave the orders goes against the most fundamental American ideals of fairness. To date, the highest-ranking officer to be prosecuted for detainee abuse is a lieutenant colonel who was acquitted. Yet there is simply too much evidence of high-level orders to justify limiting criminal investigations to the field. In this country, we investigate crimes — no matter how powerful the suspected perpetrators — and, when appropriate, we prosecute those who broke the law. The American system of justice would be rendered meaningless if we were to start compromising our principles and laws simply because enforcing them might be politically messy, inconvenient or even painful.
I have no great faith that we will ever see a prosecution of Bush and his cronies, but we live in hope.

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