As is to be expected in healthy public and blog debate, whenever someone presents a position, such as that there should be accountability for, for instance, torturing people to death in a vast, organized, systematic, government approved program of brutal torture that went on for years and was approved at the highest levels of the world’s greatest and most dangerous super power….there will be objections raised.
Those of us who write on the subject know them well, but since they are raised in comments, the answers to the objections and concerns are not as widely read as the initial information in the essays or diaries. Therefore they must be repeatedly, which tends to try the authors patience a bit, and can lead to ….er….a curtness, shall we say, born of frustration that at having to reply again and again to the same objections. So let’s address them now here in one place! As an aside, I have answered all of these questions Brazillions of times, so please excuse me if a tad bit of sarcasm may occasionally slip into the way I lay them out here, lol.
Prosecution = Investigations first. When the word prosecution is used, people seem to forget or mentally skip over the fact that there can be no prosecution without an investigation first. A small percentage of those who object seem to think that prosecution advocates want revenge at any cost and when they hear ‘prosecution’ they seem to think that someone is advocating that Cheney just be thrown into jail or into the dock immediately.
When you hear the word prosecution….think, investigation. No one, and I mean no one is advocating for anything more than a proper, legal, painstaking and thorough investigation. We are trying to restore the Rule of Law. We WANT the Rule of Law to be applied to those who have broken, subverted and corrupted it. we want due process, and full rights for the accused. But most of all we want investigations. We are of course, given the amount of information in the public sphere, very confident that those investigations will lead to prosecutions.
Which leads to the next point of objection.
Patience. We are constantly urged to be patient. No one, and again I mean no one,expects anything more than an announcement that formal, official, structured and coordinated investigations are beginning. Of course, once the investigations start we will be monitoring and writing about the particulars of the investigations. No One, expects to jump right to prosecutions NOW. Really! We know this will be an incredibly long and complex process, I assure you. The only thing we are impatient for is the announcement that the full range of the Bush Torture Program will be investigated…and IF the facts warrant it (which they obviously do) lead to prosecutions.
Advocacy can NEVER involve patience. if you don’t ask….nay DEMAND….what you want you will. not. get. it.
Just because we yell Loudly for something, does NOT mean we expect to have everything come to a halt to fulfill our (petulant, childish, or whatever other insulting epithet that some people who don’t understand the dynamics of advocacy politics assign to advocates) demands. The squeaky wheel DOES get the grease. The RW advocacy groups have proven that over the last eight years. being polite and supplicative gets you NOWHERE in politics. I am amazed I even have to say that, frankly!
Obama has too much on his plate. Sarcasm alert! No one expects Obama himself to put on Sherlock Holmes’s deerstalker cap, yell “The game is afoot!” and take out after Moriarty/Cheney!
Today Obama said he would support bi-partisan House investigations. He can ASK AG Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor, or as also has been suggested an outside prosecutor. All torture prosecution advocates want is for him to get out of the way. And, perhaps, stop announcing that he is (since he doesn’t technically have that power anyway) immunizing people from prosecution.
Political Capital. This one is more complicated. I will address it fully in another essay, but some initial points need to be made. First, remember that Obama won’t be wearing the Holmes Hat here. He will NOT be out front on whatever type of investigation occurs. In fact he should be far in the background and other than general statements, use the political cliche of “I can’t comment on ongoing investigations.”
No One wants to derail Health care or financial recovery or climate Change legislation or any other of the incredibly admirable and important goals of President Obama. I promise. Torture advocates want all of those things too. we are just not willing to trade them for ignoring torture. When we don’t have to. Especially since Obama IS a brilliant politician, CAN walk and chew gum at the same time, and because it IS possible that not prosecuting war crimes could also harm him. The RW can use it as a weapon. The embarrassment of the UN and Spain prosecuting in our stead can use up his international political capital. And….it gives the “terrorists” a VERY potent talking point and recruiting tool as well.
This is why the Petition for a Special Prosecutor (now with almost 49,000 sigs!) is addressed to AG Holder, and not to President Obama.
Yes, yes, OF COURSE the RW will fight back and call Obama bad names and accuse him of being the second coming of Satan, just for allowing investigations.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW???
They do that when he frikking shakes hands with somebody!
Second, consider this an investment of political capital. Yes there will be pushback and outrage from the right initially and at every hay-making opportunity. But, and I hesitate to talk about this much, because it DOES feed into the ‘witch hunt’ meme. But stop and think for a moment what in depth investigations of the Bush Executive Branch and, inevitably, the Republican Congress members….will reveal.
Think, if you will, of what it will mean in the 2010 and 2012 elections….. to have the entire Republican party under investigation for, or at least tangentially implicated in, a torture trial.
It is the nail in their coffin.
But I want to STRONGLY state this. We are NOT in this fight for political purposes. Or revenge. Or Retribution.
We are in it to stop torture. We are in it to restore Human Rights. We are in it to restore the Rule of Law. We are in, dammit….because torture is WRONG. And there is NO greater wrong than State Sanctioned homicide by torture
I challenge any and all to come up with a worse crime…short of genocide.
That is what our government, YOUR government did in your name. As painful and hard as it may be to face that fact. The United States under George Bush and Dick Cheney tortured people, slowly and agonizingly in some cases and suddenly and brutally in others, to the point that they died.
How can we, as civilized people, NOT investigate, and if it proves warranted, and it will, prosecute that?