Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Torture: Prosecute Any Democrats Involved, Too

Let me be clear.  Some are claiming that none of the Bush administration officials will ever be prosecuted for ordering torture because, they say, too many Democrats were also involved. Some claim Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was informed about the torture program (and even the torture of particular detainees) back in 2003 when she was Minority Leader.  I say “Let the chips fall where they may.”  Appoint a special prosecutor, get a grand jury, and investigate and prosecute whomever is responsible. If there were bi-partisan culprits because the Bush admin. coopted Democratic stalking horses, let them face prison, too.  Torture is a war crime. Period. End of discussion.

If we fail to prosecute war crimes, we are, BY DEFINITION, a rogue nation which disregards the rule of law.  And we are immoral beyond belief.


May 7, 2009 - Posted by | torture



    Comment by Steve Schuler | May 7, 2009

  2. Whomever was directly involved in putting this thing together needs to be exposed. Party doesn’t matter.

    Comment by Ralph | May 7, 2009

  3. This is hyperbole. We are not a rogue nation. Whom do we threaten with our rogue actions? I guarantee whoever it is, is five more shades of roguey than we are. The world recognizes this and will let this pass except for a few grandstanders. And Nancy Pelosi immoral beyond belief? Much less all of us? Look at her life and day to day actions. Immoral beyond belief looks different. This reminds me of anti-abortion people saying we live in a terror state or extermination camp. It has a tiny bit of truth but doesn’t match the complexity of reality.

    This was a limited policy based on obtaining intelligence for national security. It was lazy and poorly executed at times (but not at other times!), but most Americans are going to be fine with it, and simply ensure it doesn’t happen again. We are not a torture state. Gays are not being hauled off for torture, or Democrats, or graffitti artists, people who voted wrong, etc. That’s a torture state punishing its enemies, getting false confessions. No American on either side of this would stand for it. We wouldn’t even torture an Iraqi soldier! Let it go already.

    Comment by james | May 7, 2009

  4. Also, whomever was informed and did nothing–and thus was involved in a cover-up. Root ’em all out and imprison the lot. Start over fresh.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | May 8, 2009

  5. First of all, James, we used to call any nation that committed torture or spied on its own citizens or in any way violated international law a “rogue nation,” not just those who threatened others. Second, with regard to Iraq, we invaded a nation that had not attacked us or threatened us, had no ties to those who had, had no means of attacking us, was not even a credible threat to its neighbors (we had two “no fly zones” in its own territory and a crippling embargo)–and was cooperating again with inspectors who were not finding any weapons of mass destruction. No sooner than we invaded Iraq, we called Iraq, Iran, and North Korea “an axis of evil” and announced “the Bush doctrine” of “preemptive warfare,” giving ourselves permission to attack any one, anywhere we though might someday be a credible threat to us! This implicitly threatened Iran and North Korea so they both re-started their nuclear weapons programs. (By the way, Iran’s hardliners were losing out to moderates. The Iran of 2001-2 was moving faster than Turkey toward becoming a genuine democracy. But our rogue threats led the moderates and reformers to lose completely in the next election and brought Ahmadinejad to power.)

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | May 8, 2009

  6. I agree, Michael. It doesn’t matter who was involved, it was wrong, and the law should take its course.

    James — I would suggest that the difference between a rogue nation and moral nation is not that one does wrong while the other is always right, but that a moral nation applies justice to its own actions and those of its citizens. In other words, we become rogue if we uncover evil–and torture is evil–and do not respond to it with justice.

    “Ensuring it doesn’t happen again” doesn’t work in other criminal proceedings. “Your honor, I did murder my wife, but I won’t do it again,” would fail in court! It shouldn’t work here either.

    Comment by Henry Neufeld | May 8, 2009

  7. It’s also hard to see how we “ensure it doesn’t happen again” if we don’t try those responsible. Didn’t we try that with Watergate, Iran-Contra, etc.? Each time another rogue regime did worse than the previous one. (Actually, in the case of Watergate, many did go to jail, but Nixon was pardoned. In Iran-Contra, too many immunities from prosecution were given in exchange for testimony–and then Oliver North decided to fall on his sword–since prison was “off the table”–and not roll over on Reagan and Bush I. And CIA Director Casey died of a brain tumor before he could made to testify.) Trials are essential for a nation of laws–a nation in which NO ONE is above the law. Otherwise we don’t have any rights–just the permission of the powerful to live and breathe until they say otherwise.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | May 8, 2009

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