Monday, December 29, 2008

Hold Officials Accountable for Torture - Contra Costa Times

One obvious but generally overlooked measure makes the need for an armed revolution against fascism unnecessary: " ... Enforce the law. ... " Reform the justice system, turn back fraudulent legal precedents that protect the guilty (this is why the CIA operates domestically in violation of the National Security Act - a court judgment pertaining to the Agency's training and handling of Cuban exiles made it possible), and war criminals like Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld do hard time on the chain gang ... well, if they manage to skirt the death penalty for their heinous crimes ...

- AC, Law and Order Blogger

Hold Officials Accountable for Torture
Wesley G. Hughes

This is the last time this year that I am going to bring up the subject of my beloved country's tarnished reputation.

It's out there for everyone to see, and we earned it.

How? Through the eagerness of some of us to embrace torture as a tool of interrogation.

It would be wrong even if it worked. But that assertion cannot be put forth as justification. After years of war and mistreatment of prisoners, there is no evidence that a single piece of accurate or lifesaving information has been produced by the torturers or the people who designed the methods and authorized their use.

Those designers and enablers, sadly, are not low-level hoodlums. They occupy some of the highest offices in the land.

America used to be a bright light, a beacon of justice, an example to the world.

To once more become what it was will take years of hard work and dedication to the cause of liberty and fair play, but there is one powerful way to start the regeneration: Enforce the law.

It's time to indict the architects of torture, and this time start at the top.
Do it legally and openly. Impanel a federal grand jury to consider the evidence and decide whether that evidence is sufficient to hand down indictments. With those indictments, the accused can be tried under the U.S. system of jurisprudence, the world's fairest and finest, and a system these men - and almost without exception they are men - have ignored for their own convenience in order to create a criminal system with torture at its root.

Interestingly, most of these people are of Vietnam age, but somehow they managed to avoid military service.

Without knowing the risks of serving their country under arms, they managed to build their torture system that puts every person in a U.S. military uniform in harm's way.

I'm no fool, I know that our soldiers, sailors and Marines are in danger of torture on many fronts, whether we honor the Geneva Convention and our own sense of honor, morality and fairness. But does that mean we should provide the enemy with motive to mistreat our men and women captured on the battlefield?

Rogue nations are already pointing to Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and the CIA's secret prisons as examples of our treatment of prisoners, and saying that we should expect nothing less in return.

2009, the new year, is a good place to start rebuilding America's beacon to the world by repudiating torture and removing it from our play book. And it's time for those who created it as policy to be held to account for their actions.

There are some big names on the list.

It's clear that the mastermind is Vice President Dick Cheney. His legal advisers David Addington and John Yoo and others close to him should be included. Others high on the list are former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

These people should not be able to just walk away now that they are out of office, or soon will be, and move into cushy new high-paying jobs in the private sector. They should be tried, and if convicted, sent to prison.
I do worry that these names will appear on a list of people pardoned by George W. Bush in one of his final acts as president. Now that would be a crime.

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