Monday, November 17, 2008


I'm not sure if Obama should prosecute the sadists who trashed 230 years of U.S. policy (yes, going back to George Washington!) that Americans must treat detainees with dignity. I can understand both sides laid out in this story. But our government needs to investigate who decided we should torture terror suspects and how these people were able to get away with it. We should also find out which Democrats knew what Bush/Cheney were doing, but declined to stop it.

Also, beware of sneaky moves before Jan. 20:

Whether Bush will protect his top aides and interrogators with a
pre-emptive pardon - before they are ever charged - has become a hot topic of
discussion in legal and political circles in the administration's waning days.
White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto declined to comment on the


Fugu said...

"It's just not good for the intelligence community and the defense community to have people in the field, under exigent circumstances, being told these are the rules, to be exposed months and years after the fact to criminal prosecution..."

That's the only argument here against prosecuting that seems to have any real point to it, and not make some general we should just move on remark. But at the same time, are those the people you want in the field? Just one step shy of Blackwater?

And to say it's better for the US and the international community to just shove what happened under a rug and move on--that's irresponsible. I think the world would seriously like to see the US admit to some of it's mistakes in the past 8 years. If we just let it all slide it sure seems to set a clear precedent that we tolerate such actions in our country, and would also seem to make any kind of anti-torture policy really hard to take seriously.

"The Federalist Papers discourage presidents from pardoning themselves."

Hmph. We'll see.

odori said...

The quote above is the one that gave me reason to think perhaps it would be better not to prosecute everyone.

I believe strongly we need to find out what happened so we can prevent it from happening again. At the same time, I wonder if it would be wise to have civil servants constantly wondering whether something they're about to do could get them indicted. On the other hand, perhaps if more people thought that way Bush/Cheney wouldn't have gotten away with putting together a pro-torture policy and so many underlings wouldn't have carried out their wishes.

So I'm obviously conflicted. What I do strongly believe is that we need to learn what happened.

Btw, in "The Dark Side," which I'm now reading, Jane Mayer writes that Bush was so excited about his "extraordinary rendition" program that he asked CIA director George Tenet if he could announce news of each rendition after it happened, so the people could keep score. I'm not joking! Tenet apparently told Bush that wouldn't be possible. But Bush was satisfied when Tenet said he could announce an aggregate figure. WTF? This crap makes my head spin.

Fugu said...

Huh. So maybe the way to do it is to only push prosecution on the the higher ups, not the ones in the field who would then constantly worry if the orders their about to follow are going to get them in trouble.

It's the ones who knowingly created the policy in the first place who should get nailed, anyway, and others could get a little slap on the wrist and encouragement to think a little before blindly following orders. Yaaay whistleblowers!

Mr. Pony said...

I kind of think that everybody should be worrying constantly if they're doing the right thing, whether they're following orders or not.