Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Arrest the Torture Masters


We know what happened.

"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.
 --Former Vice President Dick Cheney, responding to a question about waterboarding

"Waterboarding has been used on only three detainees. It was used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It was used on Abu Zubaydah. And it was used on [Abd al-rahim al-]Nashiri." 

"The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees... Interrogation policies endorsed by senior military and civilian officials authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques were a major cause of the abuse of detainees in US custody."

"These activities [torture]...were authorized, they were known at the highest levels, they were supported by legal opinions at the Department of Justice."

We know the law.

"Waterboarding is torture.
--Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking to Senate Judiciary Committee

"To be clear, torture is currently banned under United States laws (under the anti-torture statute, the War Crimes Act, the Geneva Conventions, and the Detainee Treatment Act)."

We know what must be done.

"No one is above the law.
--Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking to Senate Judiciary Committee

"My view is also that nobody's above the law and, if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, that people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen.
--President Barack Obama, speaking to the White House press corps

So why are we looking the other way?

How can this be something we put off until Obama's second term--if there even is a second term? True, Democrats don't want to look like they're playing politics with prosecutions. They don't want to look like they are taking revenge the very moment they get in power. But the story here--as outlined above--is pretty clear and leaves very little excuse not to put Bush administration officials on trial. 

As I've said before, not pursuing prosecutions is "playing politics." What reason could the Justice Department have for failing to bring charges other than that they don't want to interfere with the White House's political agenda? When forced to comment on Bush's torture policy, Obama likes to say he is "more interested in looking forward," because he knows that plays well in the media, keeps his positives high, and maintains the above-it-all image he's fashioned. He's taking the easy road, rather than doing what's right. 

Every day that the torture masters skate by is a day that political expediency trumps justice.

3 comments:

Amy said...

Ok, I'm with you, but who are we actually talking about here? Who, specifically are the ones to prosecute? That's not a loaded question, I'm really asking.

Chris said...

Prosecute Dick.

Better Than Machines said...

Amy,

We're talking mainly about high-level Bush administration officials who ordered or allowed torture tactics (all of them, not just waterboarding) against prisoners. Ideally, the Attorney General should appoint a special prosecutor who would lead an independent investigation and would decide who specifically should be charged.

But we know where to start. People have already confessed. Cheney's confession is in my post above. Some say that THIS represents Bush's confession. And we know the White House and Justice Dept. lawyers who provided "legal justifications" for torture.

One group preparing a complaint seeking action against war criminals has come up with the following list of officials that should be prosecuted:

George W. Bush (President)
Dick Cheney (Vice President)
Alberto Gonzalez (Attorney General)
David Addington (Cheney's enforcer)
Tim Flanigan (Office of Legal Counsel)
Lewis Libby (VP Chief of Staff)
Condoleeza Rice (National Security Advisor)
Donald Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense)
Douglas Feith (Under Sec of Defense Policy)
Stephen Cambone (Under Sec of Defense Intelligence)
John Ashcroft (US Attorney General)
Michael Chertoff (Asst US Attorney General)
Michael Dunlavey (Commander, Guantanamo)
Geoffrey Miller (Major Gen, Detention Unit Cmdr Guantanamo)
Colin Powell (Secretary of State)
George Tenet (CIA Director)
Cofer Black (CIA Counterterrorism Director)
James Pavitt (CIA DDO)
Scott Muller (CIA General Counsel)
John Rizzo (Acting CIA General Counsel)
David Becker (SEC General Counsel)
Spiky haired red head woman (Classified name, Head of CIA Al Qaeda unit))
Jay Bybee (Office of Legal Counsel)
John Yoo (Office of Legal Counsel)
Jim Haynes (DOD General Counsel)
Robert Delahunty (Office of Legal Counsel)
Robert Philbin (Office of Legal Counsel)
Steven Bradbury (Office of Legal Counsel, Acting Asst AG)
Mary Walker (Air Force General Counsel)
Diane Beaver (Army Judge Advocate General)
Jack Goldsmith (Office of Legal Counsel)

They also list the types of war crimes we're talking about:

Savage Beatings
Peroneal Strikes
Sleep Deprivation
Waterboarding
Hanging by the Arms
Slamming Heads into concrete walls
Additional Stress positions and electric shocks
Extremes of Hot and Cold
Tiny Cages, Hoods, and Duct tape
Lack of medical care and food
Ghost detainees
Renditions for Torture
Continuous noise and strobe lights

My point is not that all of these people should be charged with all of these crimes. I'm saying that a special prosecutor would know which government officials we're talking about in the first place, and which specific crimes we're talking about.

So again, we at least know where to start.