Torture Truth Commission

Obama seems inclined to investigate the torture allegations but not to prosecute, says Newsweek:

Obama aides are wary of taking any steps that would smack of political retribution. That’s one reason they are reluctant to see high-profile investigations by the Democratic-controlled Congress or to greenlight a broad Justice inquiry (absent specific new evidence of wrongdoing). “If there was any effort to have war-crimes prosecutions of the Bush administration, you’d instantly destroy whatever hopes you have of bipartisanship,” said Robert Litt, a former Justice criminal division chief during the Clinton administration.

Reactions in the ‘sphere are mixed, for reasons Kevin Drum puts his finger on:

At bottom we still have a public opinion problem here: like it or not, half the country still seems to think that torturing al-Qaeda suspects was perfectly acceptable.

Indeed. Even today there’d be no shortage of people willing to volunteer to take the cattle prod to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, for instance. Memories of a historically unprecedented assault on the soil of the US will do that.

The broader reason, however, is maintain the country’s political stability. The minute one party starts believing that the only way to stay out of jail over what it sees as a political dispute is to hold onto power, it’s all downhill from there.

UPDATE: Matt Yglesias argues for trading leniency only for full cooperation:

I think it’s important to draw a distinction between simply declining to engage in war crimes prosecutions as a matter of prosecutorial discretion, and actually taking prosecution off the table. The latter should be done, if at all, only in exchange for confessions, expressions of remorse, and cooperation with investigations. The former may is probably the better part of wisdom for now, but many of the perpetrators can be expected to live for decades and absent something like a real Truth and Reconciliation Commission the door should be left open to doing something down the road if circumstances change. I don’t think it’s even remotely acceptable to just give a full retrospective stamp of approval on everything that was done during the Bush years merely because that might be the most convenient way to build legislative support for Obama’s domestic agenda.

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One Response

  1. I’ll believe it when I see it… They’re all war profiteers– doesn’t matter what color you are, red, blue or black.

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