POLITICAL observations & opinions

* Should Bush, Cheney et al be held accountable for the war crimes they committed?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 27, 2008

 Jonathan Freedland, writing in The Guardian, says YES …

  • the US Senate has released a bipartisan report – with none other than John McCain as its co-author – into the American use of torture against those held in the war on terror. 
    • It dismissed entirely the notion that the horrors of Abu Ghraib could be put down to “a few bad apples”. 
    • Instead it laid bare, in forensic detail, the trail of memos and instructions that led directly to the then defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.
  • the 29-page published summary makes horrifying reading. It shows how the most senior figures in the Bush administration discussed, and sought legal fig leaves for, practices that plainly amounted to torture. 
  • Approval for this kind of torture, hidden under the euphemism of “enhanced interrogation”, was sought from and granted at the highest level.
  • And that doesn’t mean Rumsfeld. 
  • The report’s first conclusion is that, on “7 February 2002, President George W Bush made a written determination that Common Article 3 of the Geneva conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al-Qaida or Taliban detainees”. The result, it says, is that Bush “opened the door” to the use of a raft of techniques that the US had once branded barbaric and beyond the realm of human decency.
  • For this Bush should surely be held to account. 

Read Freedland’s entire article at … http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/24/george-bush-guantanamo-bay-us-government

Mort Kondracke, writing in ROLL CALL, has a different view …

  • For the sake of national security and national unity, President-elect Barack Obama should put a stop to efforts to investigate or prosecute Bush administration officials for anti-terror “war crimes.”
  • The motive behind such efforts is not — as claimed — “truth” or “justice,” but political vengeance.
  • Bush haters are calling for the Obama administration to investigate Bush officials for alleged war crimes and other misdeeds connected with the war on terror.
  • Obama should make it clear right now that he opposes such action 
  • The main reason has less to do with “turning the page,” uniting the country and letting bygones be bygones — all good Obama impulses — than with preserving the morale of intelligence professionals in wartime.
  • But there’s no need to investigate whether Bush — or Cheney — authorized the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques or warrantless terrorist wiretapping or renditions (“snatching”) of terrorist suspects. They’ve admitted it and defended it as being necessary to defend the nation in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — and justified it by pointing out that the homeland has not been attacked since.

Read Kondracke’s entire article at … http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/12/obama_should_say_no_to_war_cri.html

LMW COMMENT … There is substantial evidence that torture does produce information, but not the truth. Tortured prisoners lie; the information they provide is often useless or worse, purposely misleading. America has certain standards which have made us a powerful moral force in the world. The practices of torture, which seem to have been directly authorized by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, undermine our ability to influence a hostile world. Our military might is clearly not enough. To regain our moral stature and world leadership, we need to investigate, and prosecute if warranted, those who demeaned all of us by abdicating what we should stand for.

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