Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Crimes In Your Name

There used to be a meme: "How has Obama failed you today?" that tweaked the Left and Right's criticism of Obama for not providing the magic ponies they wanted.  But if there is a way Obama failed me, it would be his decision not to prosecute the criminal behavior of the Bush years on Wall Street and in the torture regime.

Obama saw himself as someone who was going to try and rise above the partisan rancor of the Bush years, but as we have seen, that was a pipe dream.  He has recently come to the conclusion that he can no longer attempt negotiations with the legislative nihilists, and good for him.

But the release of Senate Select committee's report on torture is an opportunity.  It's an opportunity to force the GOP to defend what it did in our name, force it to relive the shame of Abu Ghraib and the Black Sites.  And of course, they will defend it.  Undead Thing Dick "Dick" Cheney is already defending torture, prompting mild mannered Mainer Angus King to invite Dick to be waterboarded himself.  Dick has a heart condition, so why don't we waterboard Liz instead, and Dick can watch.
Then let's see if that constitutes torture.

As Robinson notes, torture is illegal.  I hear the immoral argument he makes, and I share that view.  But to me, it is the fact that the CIA and parts of the Executive branch directly and obviously broke the law that is distressing.

When I teach my students about the necessary pre-conditions for democracy to work, we always return to the Rule of Law, which basically states that laws constrain the rich and poor alike, the government as well as its citizens.  What took place in the CIA and the Cheney offices was a direct violation of American law.  The idea that they should escape prosecution is sickening.

Torture was a moral blot on this country's history.  The failure to prosecute those involved is a failure of the very institutions of government that we depend on to maintain a free society.

So the Obama administration needs to prosecute those responsible for torture, but only if they are willing to follow that trail all the way up the ladder to Addington, Yoo and Cheney.

Does anyone see that happening?

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