On Thursday, the White House and Department of Justice released four more memos written by President Bush’s Department of Justice rationalizing the use of torture toward detainees caught during our “war on terror”. President Obama said in his comments on the release said “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” However, due to current Federal and international law, the President and Department of Justice have no choice but to investigate and prosecute anyone who allowed the torture or performed it.
Nothing disgusted me more than learning about the torture condoned by the Bush administration and then reading the memos that have been released by the DOJ showing the bizarre lengths the neo-cons in the Bush DOJ went to justify the “legality” of the torture.
I was extremely disappointed to learn that President Obama doesn’t want to investigate and prosecute those who wrote the memos, ordered their writing, or the people who carried them out.
This isn’t like what happened to President Nixon after he left office. Nixon’s crimes were more of a political nature and the “little guys” who carried out his illegal plans did face justice.
The memos released Thursday dealt with torture – which is a war crime and crime against humanity. The penalty for crimes against humanity can be death or life in prison. The memos show that all levels of the Bush administration knew about the torture and allowed it to happen. One of the men who wrote one of the memos is now a Federal District Court Judge and there are calls now to impeach him.
The Huffington Post had a good article summarizing the issue:
Manfred Nowak, the UN rapporteur on torture, says that the US must try those who used harsh interrogation tactics in accordance with the UN Convention Against Torture.
Calling for an independent investigations and the compensation of victims, Nowak told the Austrian daily Der Standard:
“The United States, like all other states that are part of the UN convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court… The fact that you carried out an order doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility.”
Some former Bush administration have made the laughable argument that release of the memos reveals secrets to “our enemies” and has some how made us all “less safe”. The fact is we have known these methods have been used for some time – “our enemies” knew it too and used it for recruiting purposes.
The other point is torture isn’t just immoral, it’s also ineffective and counterproductive as written by a former interrogation officer Matthew Alexander in an op-ed in the Washington Post and his book on the subject:
I refused to participate in such practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead. I taught the members of my unit a new methodology — one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information. I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they’re listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of “ruses and trickery”). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.
There is also an online petition that asks the President to appoint a special prosecutor: