Friday, December 19, 2008

Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied

If you haven't yet read the NY Times editorial The Torture Report, concerning the newly released Senate Armed Services Committee's findings that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other members of the Bush administration committed what amount to war crimes, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Here are just the first few paragraphs:

Most Americans have long known that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were not the work of a few low-ranking sociopaths. All but President Bush’s most unquestioning supporters recognized the chain of unprincipled decisions that led to the abuse, torture and death in prisons run by the American military and intelligence services.

Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

The report shows how actions by these men “led directly” to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.

It said these top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America’s standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War. Until the Bush administration, their only use in the United States was to train soldiers to resist what might be done to them if they were captured by a lawless enemy.

The officials then issued legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the “war on terror” — the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions.

That the men who authorized these heinous acts will most likely escape prosecution is, simply put, criminal. After World War II, Japanese officers were executed for waterboarding prisoners. It seems to me that Rumsfeld and his sadistic cronies deserve to be punished for their crimes, and that we, as a nation, deserve some measure of justice for their having taken our country to the depths of moral depravity that torture represents. By not prosecuting these individuals, we, the citizens of the United States, all share in their culpability. If they are not brought to justice, then we are all guilty.

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