Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Stunted Discourse on Torture Continues

I have devoted quite a few entries recently to the discussion of torture policies and my viewpoint that officials that approved these policies should be investigated and held accountable for their actions. I actually find it fascinating to witness some of the conversations that take place in the media in regard to torture policies and those who continue to insist that this is merely a question of political difference and debate as opposed to a discussion over accountability to the rule of law.

I am in complete agreement that outgoing administrations should not have to worry about policies being criminalized, but when those policies break the law and are potential war crimes, then certainly those who implement said policies should be investigated and held to account. When we are discussing violations of the law, we move beyond mere differences in political ideology and discussions about accountability to the law should not be viewed through merely a political lens. After all, we are a nation of laws and are of the belief that no one is above the law. It was quite refreshing to see the nominee for the position of Attorney General state today that "no one is above the law" and that "waterboarding is torture".

Despite Holder's assertion that "no one is above the law" President-elect Obama has not made any indication that Bush Administration officials will be investigated and face charges for implementing policies. In fact, Obama stated the tired line that "we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards" this past weekend with George Stephanopolous. In order for Obama's Administration to hold the line that "no one is above the law" and to remain consistent with their assertion that "waterboarding is torture", there is no other option than to hold those who made the decision to implement torture, accountable for their illegal and immoral actions.

As President Bush and other Administration officials continue to admit that they approved of torture and Holder and Obama state that waterboarding is indeed torture that the United States has prosecuted others for in the past, the scenario is set for the next step of accountability. All the while there is still a debate about whether these policies are appropriate, with people like Joe Scarborough and Dick Cheney, continuing to defend these policies as necessary to the safety of U.S. citizens. The clip below is a prime example of just how backward the discourse has slid when these issues are discussed:

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