- The United States has tortured prisoners.
- Torture is unambiguously illegal and immoral.
- Those who committed torture and especially those who authorized torture must be prosecuted to restore the rule of law.
I am very passionate about this topic. I am an active member of NRCAT, and No2Torture. I encourage you to be as well. I will write in more detail on this subject in the future, but today I am happy to point out that there are people making the argument for prosecution far more effectively than I can.
First of all, if you read only one piece on this subject read this. Scott Horton, the author of the article is an International Human Rights lawyer who has made legal issues around torture his primary specialty since the Vietnam War. He knows more about this subject than anyone, and he writes with more clarity and force than anyone. A taste:
Reasserting the rule of law is no simple matter. A new administration may—or may not—bring an end to open torture in the United States, but it will not bring an end to our knowledge and acceptance of what has already taken place. If the people wish to maintain sovereignty, they must also reclaim responsibility for the actions taken in their name. As of yet, they have not. Pursuing the Bush Administration for crimes long known to the public may amount to a kind of hypocrisy, but it is a necessary hypocrisy. The alternative, simply doing nothing, not only ratifies torture; it ratifies the failure of the people to control the actions of their government.You can hear him debate the subject of prosecution and the manner with other experts on the topic in this great radio interview.
Much debate is indeed being had about the precise route to take, whether it be a Military Court, or an International War Crimes Tribunal, or a Truth and Reconciliation Commission... what is not really debatable is whether there is a crime to prosecute, and evidence sufficient to justify prosecution of specific individuals including the former President and Vice President. Bush and Cheney have both publicly confessed. Susan J. Crawford, the top Bush Administration official in charge of the cases at Guantanamo has recently explicitly labeled the treatment of Qahtani torture. The preponderance of evidence is enormous.
Keith Olbermann is dead right on this subject:
President Obama doesn't want to have to be the guy that does this dirty work (who would?). He knows it will be perceived by some as a partisan witch hunt, but the nation really can't afford to let this slip. Not and maintain any pretense of respect for the rule of law.