(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
President Barack Obama took this oath on January 20, 2009 as prescribed by the US Constitution, Article II, Section 1:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
That includes a legal obligation to enforce the laws of this country and prosecuting the criminals who break those laws, even if that criminal is another President.
Rachel Maddow tiptoed around a bit when she that Bush-era torture was “probably a war crime,” while discussing the recently released memo by Philip Zelikow, a former Bush counselor. I suspect she did so as to not find herself on the unemployment line.
Rachel Maddow relays the news that the original Philip Zelikow memo advising the Bush administration that waterboarding is torture and such, illegal, has been found despite Bush administration efforts to destroy every copy. Will new proof that the Bush administration did not act in good faith when it tortured detainees push the Obama administration to prosecute? Will the Republican Party, once principled against torture, outflank Obama and call for prosecutions?
It was probably a war crime, not to put a fine point on it. And that is something we are legally obligated to prosecute in this country. This opens the whole question of legal liability for torture that was administered by the previous administration. The Democratic Party will be split by this, because the White House politically doesn’t want to deal with this, even if it’s wrong and even if they know it’s wrong. And the Republican Party still has to figure out who it is. Is the Republican Party still the party of John McCain, which now has the opportunity to outflank the president on a matter of principle here? Where the Whit house knows what the right thing to do is, but they don’t want do it. Or is the Republican Party still the party of George W. Bush and Mitt Romney who think torture is OK?
Gaius Publius at AMERICAblog doesn’t think this is going away. He also wonders why the Obama administration didn’t pursue it and links to an article written by Andrew Kreig, executive director of Justice Integrity Project, on September 13, 2011:
President-Elect Obama’s advisers feared in 2008 that authorities would “revolt” and that Republicans would block his policy agenda if he prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a law school dean who served as one of Obama’s top transition advisers.
University of California at Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley, Jr., the sixth highest-ranking member of the 2008 post-election transition team preparing Obama’s administration, revealed the team’s thinking in moderating a forum on 9/11 held by his law school (also known as Boalt Hall)[..]
When a citizen, Susan Harmon, who opposed torture, questioned Dean Ederly on the inclusion of Professor John C. Yoo, former Bush Justice Department attorney who authored a memo justifying torture, to Boalt Hall’s faculty, this is what happened:
Harman’s account of her actions at the Boalt Hall forum, which focused on such goals as human rights and the rule of law:
“I said I was overwhelmed by the surreality of Yoo being on the law faculty . . . when he was single-handedly responsible for the three worst policies of the Bush Administration. They all burbled about academic freedom and the McCarthy era, and said it isn’t their job to prosecute him.
Dean Chris Edley volunteered that he’d been party to very high level discussions during Obama’s transition about prosecuting the criminals. He said they decided against it. I asked why. Two reasons: 1) it was thought that the CIA, NSA, and military would revolt, and 2) it was thought the Repugnants would retaliate by blocking every piece of legislation they tried to move (which, of course, they’ve done anyhow).”
Harman says that she approached Edley privately after the forum closed and said she appreciated that Obama might have been in danger but felt that he “bent over backwards” to protect lawbreakers within the Bush administration. She recalled, “He shrugged and said they will never be prosecuted, and that sometimes politics trumps rule of law.”
The last I checked waterboarding was still considered torture and torture was still a crime. Obama could well become a target for impeachment proceedings should the Democrats lose control of the Senate and more seats in the House. So long as the Obama administration refuses to prosecute former Bush administration officials, as well as, Bush and Cheney, they themselves are complicit in war crimes as per established laws and treaties of this country and the oaths that they took to uphold those laws and the Constitution.