I meant to write a piece this morning about the new revelations (via Atrios) that the Bush Administration, with malice aforethought, made "rape by instrumentality" the first tool in its anti terrorist handbook. But by this afternoon it was clear that better women than I had weighed in on it--see Digby and Jane Hamsher. To my shock and disgust, however, these new revelations don't seem to have prompted any new soul searching among those who have, conventionally speaking, the role of court press. I'm speaking here of my own cousin, Joe Conason. In an essay at Salon of crashing stupidity and cowardice he makes this moronic observation. Shorter Joe: We can't have Truth and Reconciliation because we aren't South Africa!
Joe, the mere fact that you could look at the facts as already known and use words like "vengeance" to describe the Rule of Law shows you are utterly divorced from morality. Even worse, you propose that the quisling course you recommend to Obama is necessary because of
Here we have no such consensus and no revolutionary government with the power to mete out retribution to vanquished foes. What we have instead are the unrepentant officials of the Bush era, who continue to justify their misconduct as critical to the nation's survival. We have a new administration, immured in a world economic crisis, that recognizes conflicting imperatives of accountability and cooperation. And we have a responsibility to explore how the nation embarked on "a dangerous and disastrous diversion from American values," as Leahy put it.
Is there a way for President Obama to pursue that responsibility without inflicting vengeance or humiliation? Perhaps he ought to consider the creation of a presidential commission whose aims would be purely investigative -- and encourage the participation of those implicated in the abuses of the past by promising a complete pardon to anyone who testifies fully, honestly and publicly.
With that gesture, he would acknowledge the importance of uncovering the facts, no matter how ugly, while magnanimously binding up the nation's wounds. He could leave the issue of criminal prosecution to international authorities that can act without any partisan taint. And he could seek truth without vengeance.
obvious problem of identifying any person or group, as well as the difficult questions surrounding subpoenas, executive privilege and immunity from prosecutionWhat problems? Its a fucking bureaucracy--people were doing their *assigned jobs* and clocking in and out as torturers as regularly as the sheepdog and the fox in an old cartoon. There's a god damned *chain of evidence* in emails, photographs, and already existent testimony. There really isn't any kind of mystery here about what happened. The only people being kept in the dark are the American people *in whose name* this shit was done.
Respect for the laws of humanity and of the American Government can't, by definition, be considered mere "vengeance." Holding the former President and his willing stooges accountable is just the first step in restoring our standing with the world and with ourselves and our children. Damn the political difficulties and the Republican hysteria--indict, try, and convict. It is not for you, or for President Obama, or any other individual to pardon criminals, rapists, murderers and torturers who acted under color of authority.