Shoulda Been a Con: Harold Ford Edition

Someone remind Harold Ford that a) torture is a crime and b) repeating the talking points of the party that smeared you with outrageously racist ads is a dumbfuck thing to do:

This evening on MSNBC, former Democratic congressman Harold Ford, Jr., adopted many of Cheney’s right-wing talking points to defend torture, saying he was “not as outraged as some are about” what happened at Guantanamo. He suggested that he even would have voted to approve torture in order to “prevent the destruction of an American city”:

FORD: You have to remember when this was occurring. This is 2002, 2003. The country was in a different place, in a different space. And if you were to say to me, as an American, put aside my partisanship, that we have an opportunity to gain information that would prevent the destruction of an American city, to prevent killings in American cities, and we have to use certain techniques, I’m one of those Americans that would have voted a certain way, Chris. And that polling said it might have been torture, but I’m not as outraged.

[snip]

Matthews was incredulous, telling Ford, “You are veering into Cheney country here.” He said Ford’s talking point about the destruction of an American city was “Cheney talk.” “That’s what he used to justify torture,” Matthews said.

*headdesk* ohforfuckssake.

Can we please stop having this debate? Torture is illegal under United States and international law. We’ve executed people for doing less than we did. That should be enough right there. But on top of torture being a war crime, let’s just get one little fact crystal clear: torture doesn’t work. Here endeth the debate.

The next time Cheney hands you a refreshing non-alcoholic fruity beverage, Harold, don’t fucking drink it.

Reports of Nancy Pelosi’s Knowledge of Waterboarding Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Cons seem determined to play the “but they did it too!” card. Problem is, reality isn’t quite supporting their whines:

So, a reconstructed document that is contradicted by reality is the basis for this charge against Pelosi. While it’s possible that she was briefed on waterboarding at that meeting, there’s no evidence to think so, and there is clearly some evidence to suggest that the CIA’s version of events is not accurate.

Color me surprised.

If the Cons want to drag Dems into their mud, they’ll have to do better. I don’t care if torture investigations rope a few dirty Dems – crooks are crooks. But mixing up some mud and throwing it on someone does not a fellow conspirator in war crimes make.

There’s also the inconvenient little fact that it appears Dems were attempting to push back against the Bush regime’s torture program, and got nothing but smoke blown up their asses:

So that’s one thing Jello Jay is trying to expose with his narrative: in addition to neglecting to inform Congress when the CIA got into the torture business, the Bush Administration basically responded to Congressional reminders about our Constitution by–first–ignoring their request for 10 months, and then, after that wait, stacking ridiculous argument on top of ridiculous argument to argue that the US can engage in whatever cruelty it wants so long as it’s not in US jurisdiction (narrowly defined) and so long as it can be claimed to be effective and necessary.

That’s right, my darlings. Sen. “Jello” Jay Rockefeller didn’t passively go along with the eager torturers, tried to enforce some oversight, and got nothing but a giant FUCK YOU from the Bushies for his troubles.

Dems aren’t completely innocent. I’m sure a few of them will end up looking pretty awful by the end of this. But the true responsibility for torture lies with the lying fucks who are now finding themselves under investigation by Spain for war crimes.

While we’re at it, let’s stop this hypocritical bullshit. Torture is torture, no matter who it’s applied to:

Both Greenwald and Sullivan take the NY Times to task today for their willingness to call torture torture when it’s applied to Americans but not to terrorists suspects. They cite an obituary today of an Air Force pilot who was shot down over China and tortured into making false confessions. It’s eerily like the stories we’ve heard about our own torture regime, and that’s no coincidence. It was, after all, modeled on the Chinese techniques of that era. Indeed, much of what is described sounds like the milder of the torture techniques the Bush administration approved for the CIA.

In any case, they both do an excellent job of exposing the hypocrisy of the Times, which still refuses to call the Bush torture regime by its rightful name, and point out the all the by now familiar similarities between what was done to our servicemen in the past and what we did to terrorists suspects in the last few years.

We tortured. If investigations into that torture reveal a few Dems who should’ve done better, so be it. That’s no reason to let Bushies get away with war crimes.

Prosecutions. Now.

You Wanna Talk About Nazis? Let’s Do

ZOMG, the fearmongering stupidity never ends:

The argument that terrorists represent a graver threat than the Nazis did appears to be gaining traction among current and former Republican officials.

The latest to make the claim: GOP Rep Pete Hoekstra, at a press conference today announcing the GOP’s new “Keep Terrorists Out Of America Act,” which is designed to restrict the housing of Guantanamo detainees on American soil.

Asked by a reporter whether this wasn’t comparable to the detainment of Nazis in prisoner of war camps during World War II, Hoekstra said the two were “night and day” because of the threat of “homegrown terrorism” and because of 9/11…

This is a sign of how desperate these poor fuckwits are. They’re trying to equate a handful of fanatics to a political party that controlled an industrial war machine that devastated Europe, plunged the entire world into full-scale slaughter, and killed nearly 40 million people, including 6,000,000 Jews and other undesirables rounded up and butchered with less care and concern than we show for beef cattle. Al Qaeda’s killed what, maybe 10-20,000 people worldwide? Instead of a Reichstag, they’ve got caves.

But whatever. Let’s play the game. The terrorists are worse than Nazis, the horror, the horror. Obviously must compromise our moral standing, break domestic and international law, and torture the crap out of them in order to protect ourselves, etc. etc.

There’s a flaw in that so-called reasoning, even if we grant the “worse-than-Nazis” argument:

Christopher Hitchens has a column in Slate following up on President Obama’s mentioning of the British during World War II as an example of a nation that faced an overwhelming threat yet resisted the urge to torture those they had captured to get information from them. He adds some detail:

It would be reassuring to think that somebody close to Obama had handed him a copy of a little-known book called Camp 020: MI5 and the Nazi Spies. This was published by the British Public Record Office in 2000 and describes the workings of Latchmere House, an extraordinary British prison on Ham Common in the London suburb of Richmond, which housed as many as 400 of Hitler’s operatives during World War II. Its commanding officer was a man named Col. Robin Stephens, and though he wore a monocle and presented every aspect of a frigid military martinet (and was known and feared by the nickname “Tin-Eye”), he was a dedicated advocate of the nonviolent approach to his long-term guests. To phrase it crisply–as he did–his view was and remained: “Violence is taboo, for not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information.”

[snip]

As Col. Stephens wrote, following the words quoted above about how “violence is taboo” and that it “lowers the standard of information”:

“There is no room for a percentage assessment of reliability. If information is correct, it is accepted and recorded; if it is doubtful, it should be rejected in toto.”

In other words, it is precisely because the situation was so urgent, so desperate, and so grave that no amateurish or stupid methods could be permitted to taint the source. Col. Stephens, who was entirely devoted to breaking his prisoners and destroying the Nazis, eventually persuaded many important detainees to work for him and began to receive interested inquiries “from the FBI and the North West Mounted Police, from the Director of Security in India to the Resistance Movements of de Gaulle, the Belgians and the Dutch.” It would be nice to think that even now, American intelligence might take a leaf from his ruthless and yet humane book.

This is the philosophy of a man who managed to break Nazi prisoners without so much as raising a finger. You can be ruthless without being Jack Bauer. And you tend to get better results by not running around living a Hollywood fantasy.

So, even if the terrorists really were worse than Nazis, we’re left with the fact that torture still isn’t justified. Oh, and as far as the Cons being too shit-scared to house terrorists in American prisons? I’ll leave it to Steve Benen and Jon Stewart to skewer their arguments:

The GOP argument is that the president, by closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, may move as many as 250 detainees to detention facilities in the U.S. Congressional Republicans want to make that next to impossible, arguing that Obama would put American lives at risk by bringing suspected terrorists onto American soil.

This is a very stupid argument.

There are multiple angles to this, but let’s cut to the chase: we already lock up some extraordinarily dangerous people in maximum-security facilities. Al Qaeda suspects may be scary, but they don’t have super powers. Obama isn’t going to just drop off bad guys on Main Street and ask them to play nice.

I’ll just quote Jon Stewart’s commentary from January, which summed up the problem nicely. In a message to Republicans, the “Daily Show” host explained:

“I know you guys are freaking out, but you know what we in these United States do better than anyone? Imprison people.

“We’ve got 2.3 million people locked up. Per capita, we’re #1… But these detainees are ‘the worst of the worst'; the creme de la crud; they want to kill Americans. Yeah, unlike our current inmate population of jaywalkers, cream puffs and boy scouts who only want to hug Americans [images of Charles Manson, Tim McVeigh, et al, on screen].

“Look, I know you’re Republicans so you don’t watch MSNBC, but check it out on the weekends. They have this 6-10 hour block called ‘Lockup.’ We can’t handle these piddly punks from Guantanamo? I’ll put a good, old fashioned, USA born and raised, brain-eater against any of those motherf***ers. Any of them. USA! USA!

From all of this, I can only conclude that the Cons are a snivelling bunch of morally-bankrupt cowards who believe making other people live out their Jack Bauer fantasies compensates for their lack of testicles. But then, we knew that already.

Advice for Bush & Co.: Don’t Plan Any Trips Abroad

Because Spain’s legal community’s wanting to have a little chat about torture:

In some countries, they apparently take this sort of thing seriously:

In a ruling in Madrid today, Judge Baltasar Garzón has announced that an inquiry into the Bush administration’s torture policy makers now will proceed into a formal criminal investigation. The ruling came as a jolt following the recommendation of Spanish Attorney General Cándido Conde-Pumpido against proceeding with a criminal inquiry, reported in The Daily Beast on April 16.

Judge Garzón previously initiated and handled investigations involving Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Argentine “Dirty War” strategist Adolfo Scilingo and Guatemalan strongman José Efraín Ríos-Montt, often over the objections of the Spanish attorney general. His case against Pinochet gained international attention when the Chilean general was apprehended in England on a Spanish arrest warrant. Scilingo was extradited to Spain and is now serving a sentence of 30 years for his role in the torture and murder of some thirty persons, several of whom were Spanish citizens.

Garzón’s ruling today marks a decision to begin a formal criminal inquiry into the allegations of torture and inhumane treatment he has been collecting for several years now.

Looks like European vacations are out for the Bushies. If they don’t end up in the Hague, they’ll be spending plenty of quality time in a Spanish jail. This is all to the good.

Of course, Spain may be able to stop doing our jobs for us. It seems the opinion in some circles is that if the President admits the former administration committed war crimes, criminal investigations must necessarily follow:

First up: Dem Rep Jerrold Nadler, who just told me in an interview that Obama’s comments leave the administration only one legal option: Investigate, and if necessary, prosecute.

“President Obama said, `They used torture, I believe waterboarding is torture,’” Nadler said, speaking of Obama’s comments about his predecessors. “Once you concede that torture was committed, the law requires that there be an investigation, and if warranted, a prosecution.”

Nadler and other House Dems have already called on the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to look into potential torture crimes. Yesterday’s comments from Obama, Nadler says, make it clearer still that this is the only legal path open to the administration — in part because Obama seemed to acknowledge that his predecessors had violated “international law.”

Ooo, that’s gonna get some right-wing panties in a twist. But they have a defense! Nixon told them so:

There are all kinds of problems with the “Frost/Nixon” movie, but it’s hard to miss the significance of the disgraced president saying, “[I]f the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.” It’s one of those iconic phrases the political world recognizes as the height of abuses of power. Illegal acts are not made legal by virtue of a leader’s whims.

It’s the kind of thing former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should probably be aware of. And yet, there was Rice speaking with some students at Stanford University, when she was asked if waterboarding is, in her opinion, torture. Rice replied:

“[T]he United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture.”

I was especially impressed by Rice’s use of the phrase “by definition,” since it was literally the exact same phrase Nixon used to explain why presidents are incapable of committing crimes.

Digby expands on Steve’s observation about Condi’s comments, including more snippets of Condi’s supposed wisdom. I’m sorry the students at Stanford had to be sprayed with hoses of bullshit, but that’s what happens when Bushies are invited to talk about the law. I hope everybody got a good laugh.

Once we’re done clutching our sides, perhaps we could upstage the Spaniards. Prosecutions. Now.

We Are Bound by the Convention We Signed

In 1984, Ronald Reagan made this country a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture. Since it appears that some people, our President included, think that prosecuting torturers is optional, it might be a good idea to have a peek at some articles of the Convention, with some particularly juicy bits emphasized:

Article 1

1. For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

Article 2

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

[snip]

Article 4

1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.

Article 5

1. Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offences referred to in article 4 in the following cases:

(a) When the offences are committed in any territory under its jurisdiction or on board a ship or aircraft registered in that State;

(b) When the alleged offender is a national of that State;

(c) When the victim is a national of that State if that State considers it appropriate.

2. Each State Party shall likewise take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over such offences in cases where the alleged offender is present in any territory under its jurisdiction and it does not extradite him pursuant to article 8 to any of the States mentioned in paragraph I of this article.

3. This Convention does not exclude any criminal jurisdiction exercised in accordance with internal law.

Article 6

1. Upon being satisfied, after an examination of information available to it, that the circumstances so warrant, any State Party in whose territory a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is present shall take him into custody or take other legal measures to ensure his presence. The custody and other legal measures shall be as provided in the law of that State but may be continued only for such time as is necessary to enable any criminal or extradition proceedings to be instituted.

2. Such State shall immediately make a preliminary inquiry into the facts.

[snip]

Article 7

1. Upon being satisfied, after an examination of information available to it, that the circumstances so warrant, any State Party in whose territory a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is present shall take him into custody or take other legal measures to ensure his presence. The custody and other legal measures shall be as provided in the law of that State but may be continued only for such time as is necessary to enable any criminal or extradition proceedings to be instituted.

2. Such State shall immediately make a preliminary inquiry into the facts.

I’m no lawyer, but there would appear to be no wiggle room involved. Either we prosecute, or we extradite our war criminals so another nation can prosecute for us. We signed the Convention. We’re bound by it.

Prosecutions. Now.

(Tip o’ the shot glass to Ed Brayton)

Cujo Takes Obama to the Woodshed

Go. Read. Now:

If you want an example of how disconnected our federal government is from the world that the rest of us live in, you can’t do much better than to contemplate the case of Alyssa Peterson and then contrast it with the behavior of the Congress, the Senate in particular, and the President over the last few days.

Read the rest. And then let Cujo know if you’ve got a massage therapist you can recommend – I’m sure his arm needs one after that energetic session with the Smack-o-Matic.

Rant of the Week

HuffPo’s Jason Linkins puts the Smack-o-Matic 3000 with optional Sarcasm Boost. I had to share with you all.

Stupid statement:

Via Media Monitor LaRay B., comes video of a segment between Phil Musser and Lawrence O’Donnell, hosted by Norah O’Donnell on MSNBC. The discussion centered on the torture memos, with Lawrence O’Donnell explaining how the pursuit of al Qaeda-Iraq links is a classic example of the sorts of fallacies that underpin the logic of those who think torture is effective. Musser, for his part, defended the leadership and judgment of Dick Cheney. And then, Musser’s line of thought veered very sharply into the scarily phrenological.


MUSSER: The bottom line is he’s a guy that I watched up close in action and I have great respect for his judgment and wisdom in this regard. And having seen the face of terror, you know I’ve walked through Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay when I was serving in the government, and it changes your nature of the threat to look at the people an the other sides of those fences.

Masterful takedown:

My question is this: while Phil Musser was wandering around Camp Zero, just gazing at folks with his super-powered Eyeballs of Guilt Discernment, why didn’t he stand up, right then and there, and demand that the five prisoners of Uighur descent, who the Pentagon says are a threat to no one, be released? Why couldn’t he have trained his all-knowing Peepers of Justice on Abassin Roshan, who was mistakenly placed into U.S. custody in Afghanstan, and insist that he be let go? CBS News even reports that there is a ninety year old man imprisoned there! I don’t need Musser’s magical goddamn powers to know that is plainly ridiculous.

Smackdown of an absolute ass, scathing indictment of our indefinite detentions, all in one short paragraph. Outstanding.

Oh, and Lawrence O’Donnell got in a good whack himself:

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: I think we just got a real window into the Bush administration’s view of how to approach these problems. Just by walking through Guantanamo bay and looking at prisoners, I could tell! And we didn’t get a full answer to what you could tell. But that is very similar to President Bush saying I looked into Putin’s eyes and I saw an honest man that I could deal with.

The best response Musser could muster? “That’s not fair.”

That, my friends, is the pathetic whine of someone who just got his ass soundly beaten.

It Wasn’t About Saving Lives

It was about getting the answers they wanted:

Most of the defenses for torture involve some variation on a Jack Bauer fantasy — to stop the proverbial ticking time-bomb, U.S. officials have to be able to do literally anything to acquire intelligence to save lives.

There are all kinds of problems with this, of course, most notably the fact that “24” is a fictional television program. But as new evidence comes to light about the Bush administration’s policies, it’s also worth noting that life-saving wasn’t always the goal of torture.

The Bush administration put relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

Such information would’ve provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush’s main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. No evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network and Saddam’s regime.

The use of abusive interrogation — widely considered torture — as part of Bush’s quest for a rationale to invade Iraq came to light as the Senate issued a major report tracing the origin of the abuses and President Barack Obama opened the door to prosecuting former U.S. officials for approving them.

A former senior U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge of the interrogation issue told McClatchy, “There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used. The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”

For that, they turned us into a nation of torturers. Not so heroic, now, is it?

And if you’re still tempted to argue that torture helped us foil the terrorists’ dastardly plots, consider that the Bush regime’s shining example of a plot foiled by torture would’ve required a time machine:

The terrorist plot against the Library Tower is the loyal Bushies’ favorite. Indeed, Thiessen has used it in more than one Washington Post op-ed, and it’s been repeated by Bush administration officials many, many times over the years. Both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have even told the story on several occasions, citing it as proof that their abusive tactics were a success (the former president would often call the Library Tower the “Liberty Tower”).

The entire claim has been exposed as dubious over the years, but as long as torture apologists are going to keep bringing it up, it’s probably worth taking a moment to periodically set the record straight. Tim Noah had this piece late yesterday:

[snip]

What clinches the falsity of Thiessen’s claim, however (and that of the memo he cites, and that of an unnamed Central Intelligence Agency spokesman who today seconded Thessen’s argument) is chronology. In a White House press briefing, Bush’s counterterrorism chief, Frances Fragos Townsend, told reporters that the cell leader was arrested in February 2002, and “at that point, the other members of the cell” (later arrested) “believed that the West Coast plot has been canceled, was not going forward” [italics mine]. A subsequent fact sheet released by the Bush White House states, “In 2002, we broke up [italics mine] a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the West Coast.” These two statements make clear that however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got — an unnamed senior FBI official would later tell the Los Angeles Times that Bush’s characterization of it as a “disrupted plot” was “ludicrous” — that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn’t captured until March 2003.

How could Sheikh Mohammed’s water-boarded confession have prevented the Library Tower attack if the Bush administration “broke up” that attack during the previous year?

They lied. They needed torture to justify their decision to invade Iraq, and they needed it so they could feel like proper little television badasses. But it was never about keeping us safe. It didn’t do a motherfucking thing to keep us safe.

Tell the Obama administration: time to prosecute.

The Will to Prosecute

Looks like torture prosecutions may not be off the table after all:

During a press availability Jordan’s King Abdullah, President Obama fielded a couple of questions about possible sanctions against Bush administration officials who wrote torture memos. The president went a little further than Rahm Emanuel and Robert Gibbs were prepared to go.

President Obama suggested today that it remained a possibility that the Justice Department might bring charges against officials of the Bush administration who devised harsh interrogation policies that some see as torture.

He also suggested that if there is any sort of investigation into these past policies and practices, he would be more inclined to support an independent commission outside the typical congressional hearing process. [...]

Calling the Bush-era memos providing legal justifications for enhanced interrogation methods “reflected us losing our moral bearings,” the president said that he did not think it was “appropriate” to prosecute those CIA officers who “carried out some of these operations within the four corners of the legal opinions or guidance that had been provided by the White House.”

But in clear change from language he and members of his administration have used in the past, the president said that “with respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that is going to be more of a decision for the Attorney General within the parameters of various laws and I don’t want to prejudge that.”

[snip]

Think Progress, which has video of the president’s remarks this morning, added that Obama’s comments seem to effectively put “the ball in Holder’s court.” And if the A.G. follows the vision he outlined during his confirmation hearings, Holder may conclude he has no choice but to pursue this matter.

Good.

Apparently, our current president’s hearing is functional. Of course, the chorus of people calling for torture prosecutions and Jay “1984” Bybee’s impeachment is thunderous and growing louder.

Firedoglake’s petition.

ACLU’s petition.

Democrats.com petition.

Think Progress petition.

Sen. Patrick Leahy demanding Bybee’s resignation.

Sen. Russ Feingold, ditto.

Rep. Jerry Nadler carries the motion.

Rep. Jane Schakowsky does likewise.

And Senator Diane Feinstein tells the Obama administration not to take torture prosecutions off the table.

I’m sure I’m missing several folks. Didn’t have much time to spelunk the intertoobz today. But they’re enough to show the pattern here.

Over to you, A.G. Holder. Hang ‘em high.

Prosecutions. Now.

This is what the Bush regime turned us in to:

Marcy Wheeler scrutinized some of the Bush administration’s torture memos and discovered a striking statistic.

According to the May 30, 2005 Bradbury memo, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002. [...]

[T]two two-hour sessions a day, with six applications of the waterboard each = 12 applications in a day. Though to get up to the permitted 12 minutes of waterboarding in a day (with each use of the waterboard limited to 40 seconds), you’d need 18 applications in a day. Assuming you use the larger 18 applications in one 24-hour period, and do 18 applications on five days within a month, you’ve waterboarded 90 times — still just half of what they did to KSM.

[snip]

If waterboarding was an effective torture technique, why on earth did officials feel the need to administer it 183 times on one individual? What kind of sadist thinks, “We didn’t get the information we wanted after torturing him 182 times, but maybe once more will do the trick”?

The kind of sadists who are now walking free after committing war crimes. They’re giving speeches, teaching law students, and presiding over courtrooms. We used to prosecute and imprison other torturers. We used to be morally outraged over sadism like this. Now, our leaders seem to think it’s not that big a deal.

It’s time we got outraged. They need to understand that this isn’t partisan or dwelling on the past. Crimes against humanity must be prosecuted. We have to face what we’ve done.

I was going to write a long, detailed post about this. Cujo got there first, and said all that needs to be said:

The New York Times published an editorial today on the Dept. Of Justice (DoJ) memos released last week by the Obama Administration. These memos were an attempt to put legal lipstick on the pig that was the Bush Administration’s desire to torture detainees suspected of terrorism. The editorial starts out:

To read the four newly released memos on prisoner interrogation written by George W. Bush’s Justice Department is to take a journey into depravity.

Their language is the precise bureaucratese favored by dungeon masters throughout history. They detail how to fashion a collar for slamming a prisoner against a wall, exactly how many days he can be kept without sleep (11), and what, specifically, he should be told before being locked in a box with an insect — all to stop just short of having a jury decide that these acts violate the laws against torture and abusive treatment of prisoners.

The Torturers’ Manifesto

[snip]

We’re bound both by treaties we’ve signed and as a civilized nation to investigate these crimes. Doing any less will not only be a stain on our honor as a society, but will probably encourage more such crimes in the future. If we don’t behave by these rules now, we can’t expect that anyone else will do so later when they are holding our people.

What’s worse, if we don’t do our duty as a civilization, there are others who will do it for us. Should that happen, we will be forced to choose between extraditing former Bush Administration officials as Article 7 of the U.N. Convention Against Torture demands, or not living up to that treaty obligation, as well. History won’t be kind if others are required to clean up the mess we’ve made, especially if we refuse to cooperate in that effort.

One thing you can do to demand that these crimes be investigated is sign this FireDogLake online petition that demands that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate these memos and decide if charges should be brought.

Take action. We must show our current leaders that the crimes of the past can’t simply be buried and forgotten.