“Looking Forward, Not Backward” Is Not Only Stupid … It’s Also Illegal
Failing to prosecute the fraud of the big banks is dooming our economy.
But it’s also illegal. Specifically, one of the top experts on bank fraud – William K. Black – says that the Bush and Obama administrations have both broken the law by failing to break up the insolvent banks.
Similarly, failing to prosecute those who created a policy of widespread torture is destroying our country’s reputation and hurting our national security .
Well, top experts say that torture creates new terrorists. Prosecuting the torturers would help to reduce the hatred – and terrorism – which comes from the horrendous program of torture.
In addition, top counter-terrorism experts say that indefinite detention – such as we have at Guantanamo – increases terrorism. Colin Powell’s chief of staff says that the Bush administration knew that most of the inmates at Guantanamo were innocent, but kept them locked up indefinitely to avoid the embarrassment of admitting that they’d tortured innocent people.
In other words, Guantanamo is being kept open – and innocent detainees imprisoned forever – in order to try to cover up the torture of innocents. Prosecuting – instead of covering up for – the torturers would allow the innocents to be released … thus taking away one of the main causes of terrorism: indefinite detention.
And as Darrel Vandeveld – former prosecutor in the Guantanamo military commissions, and current Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve – wrote:
Torture is a crime and the United States engaged in it. Those are two indisputable facts…
The process of self-examination and accountability has been, and remains, the only way to move forward and regain our moral and legal grounding…
We have a Department of Justice for a reason, and now it’s up to Attorney General Holder, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, to do his job and appoint an independent prosecutor to follow the evidence where it may lead…
It is critical that we hold accountable those who authorized, those who legally sanctioned and those who implemented the torture policies of one of the darkest periods in our nation’s history. What is at stake is nothing less than our democracy.
General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top coalition commander in Iraq, called for a Truth Commission so we might fully understand the failure of the military and civilian command to honor the pledge of our constitution.
Sanchez . . .stressed that the outcome must embrace a variety of solutions, including prosecution.
Sanchez stated, “When the president made the declaration that the Geneva Conventions no longer apply, we unleashed the hounds of hell and eliminated all the foundations for the training, ethics and structure we had built into our soldiers and our leaders for how to conduct these kinds of operations.”
Sanchez stated many problems could be traced to loyalties to individuals and political parties.
Former President Jimmy Carter is also calling for a truth commission with the possibility of prosecution:
“[I] like to see is a complete examination of what did happen, the identification of any perpetrators of crimes against our own laws or against international law,” said Carter. “And then after all that’s done, decide whether or not there should be any prosecutions.”
A bipartisan panel recently concluded that the U.S. engaged in widespread torture, and that the Obama administration’s keeping the details of rendition and torture from the public “cannot continue to be justified on the basis of national security”
And see Jon Stewart’s coverage of the issue:
But the panel also found that the Obama administration is violating the law by failing to prosecute torture.
Dan Froomkin reports:
There’s also a matter of law. That U.S. officials involved with detention in the CIA’s black sites committed war crimes and violated international law, which the report concludes to be self-evident, isn’t something Obama is allowed to ignore.
It actually violates the U.S.’s legal obligations under the international Convention Against Torture, which requires each country to “[c]riminalize all acts of torture, attempts to commit torture, or complicity or participation in torture,” and “proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.”
“The United States cannot be said to have complied,” the report concludes, noting: “No CIA personnel have been convicted or even charged for numerous instances of torture in CIA custody — including cases where interrogators exceeded what was authorized by the Office of Legal Counsel, and cases where detainees were tortured to death. Many acts of unauthorized torture by military forces have also been inadequately investigated or prosecuted.”
So it’s not just Bush and Cheney who violated international law; now it’s Obama, too.