Thursday, December 11, 2014

The architects of the US torture program

So here's the deal.

There are at least these five things Barack Obama can do to address the national disgrace that the Senate Intelligence Committee's executive summary of the CIA's torture program has revealed.

If he does only the first one -- appoint a special prosecutor -- then that will be a good start.

'With justice for all', it says somewhere.  No one is above the law.

Torture is a war crime under Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, and there are no exceptions.  There are specific penalties for those who torture, and for those who conspire to commit torture.

There must be accountability, or else there will certainly be more protests -- and worse -- against those placed in authority for abusing their power, and for those who let the criminals walk free.

The rule of law, or the rule of the lawless.

How much angrier can pro-torture Republicans and conservatives get, after all?  Are they going to march in the streets and protest in favor of hypothermia and forcing people to stand on broken legs?  Carry signs that say "I support rectal feeding"?  Are they going to openly carry their guns to their protests while the police -- not dressed in riot gear, mind you -- look on and grin?

Are they actually going to do anything except what they already do -- screech loudly?

Honestly, maybe we should find out if they will or they won't.  Perhaps a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the allegations of war crimes by George W Bush and Dick Cheney is exactly the thing this country needs at this time.  And then let the chips fall where they may.

If torture has -- astoundingly, I might add -- now become a partisan issue, then take it out of the hands of the partisans and have a non-partisan special prosecutor decide whether crimes should be prosecuted.

Just like Watergate.  Just like Iran-Contra.  And just like the Clinton-Lewinsky matter.

Now would be a great time to clear up this issue once and for all.  Weigh the legal interpretations of John Yoo and David Addington against the international and US laws specifically written to address circumstances like these.  Do it, do it now, and then -- if necessary -- move on to the trial at The Hague, the verdict, and the punishment.

History is judging the United States of America either way.

Update: Juan Cole, and why the Founding Fathers thought that banning torture was fundamental to the US Constitution.  And Antonin Scalia, demonstrating that his "expertise" in interpreting the Constitution is a myth.

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