There is a disturbing narrative running unchecked across the web. This same narrative is not even mentioned in the traditional media. For the last 20 or more years this country has filled jails and prison, clogged the courts, and ruined many a life all in the name of Law and Order. It is only slightly ironic that after all of this, something that has change to US for the worse, when it should be applied for one of the best reasons, has been judged as politically bad for the nation.
It the recent Newsweek, Dahlia Lithwick, a gifted writer who has focused on the real truths all through this Administration, joined the same dangerous narrative. Glenn Greenwald, a kind of web hero to many of the Progressives against the last 7 yrs responded to me during a Q&A at Firedoglake, that he felt the same way as laid in Dahlias article. To be very clear, Glenn also said if he were appointed our new Atty. Gen., his first act would be the opposite. Have you figured out the narrative yet ?
Below is the question I asked Glenn, and it is also the question I want to put to all of you. Another thing I would like to know is if you are willing to accept the same outcome as it appears is becoming the narrative ?
I’ve been reading a few of the legal blogs lately and they don’t seem to think anyone will ever be prosecuted from this current Admin. People like Yoo, Bybee, all the way up to Bush. For as many times as I’ve read your blogs I don’t think I’ve seen you state a opinion on the likelihood. Balkin said last week the chances a slim to none, do you feel that way also ?
Glenn's Answer to my question:
Yes, I feel the same way. We’ve decided as a country that "war crimes" are things that other people commit, that international law and punishment applies only to other countries, and that because we are inherently Good, even our bad acts are just "mistakes," never "criminal."
We also have embraced the principle that "moving on beyond partisan warfare" is a higher value than "punishing felonies and high crimes committed by government officials" — Ford pardoned Nixon, the Iran-contra criminals were protected, there has been no accountability for any Bush lawbreaking, etc. etc.
I think we ought not give up on the idea of holding our political leaders accountable for the war crimes and other atrocities they deliberately perpetrated, but the likelihood is extremely low. FDL Book Salon Welcomes Glenn Greenwald
That question and his answer is what struck me about Dahlias article because we as Americans seem willing to just let this all slide on by.
Yet despite the fact that senior members of the Bush administration may have violated the War Crimes Act of 1996, the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, there is scant serious talk of legal accountability. The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating whether agency attorneys provided the White House and CIA with faulty legal advice. That's a bit like setting the local meter maid on them.
Few believe the high-level architects of the American torture policy will ever face domestic prosecution. As Yale Law School's Jack Balkin pointed out, the political costs are too high: "One can imagine the screaming of countless pundits arguing that the Democrats were trying to criminalize political disagreements about foreign policy."
High-ranking administration officials and enemy combatants may have broken the law, and their legal situations are weirdly parallel. Both show how the rule of law can fracture under the strain of politics. Those alleged lawbreakers at Guantánamo can never be acquitted for purely political—as opposed to legal—reasons. The alleged lawbreakers in the Bush administration will never be held to account on precisely the same grounds.
The other day I wrote a pretty poor diary along the same lines. In it I was trying to make some sense of a recent hearing Rep. Nadler held on the topic of Torture and some of the Memos Yoo and others have written. Dan Froomkin over at the WaPo, in his piece called Torture Showdown Coming?,has the following quote among many others we should read.
Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris writes on huffingtonpost.com: "While I was working on Standard Operating Procedure, many people asked about 'the smoking gun.' 'Have you found the smoking gun? Have you found the smoking gun? -- presumably linking the abuses to the upper levels of the Defense Department and to the White House?' The question puzzles me. There are smoking guns everywhere but people don't see them, refuse to see them or pretend they don't exist. How many torture memos does an administration have to promulgate before the public gets the idea they are promulgating torture? Bush has recently admitted that he was present at these meetings and approved 'harsh interrogation techniques.' And yet this has scarcely been a news story. Well-documented attempts to subvert the Constitution, abrogation of the Geneva Conventions and simple human decency. What does it take?
"We are surrounded by smoking guns on all sides. Crimes have been committed; we have ample evidence of them. But there can be no justice if there is a failure to stand up for it, if we fail to demand it. . . .
"It is easy to dismiss all of this as the unfortunate product of war. But this is not about war, it is about us. How complacent have we become? What does it take? Each day that we allow these crimes to go unanswered erodes the very ideals that this country stands for."
Are we willing to let this all just fade away because of fear of the waves it will cause or will we stand for what is right, no matter what the political costs ? That question is one every US Citizen must ask themselves because it goes to the core of who we are and who we will become as a nation.
Soon some of the architects of this Torture program are suppose to appear before Congress. Yoo, Addington, and even former Atty Gen. Ashcroft have been called to testify. If they will tell the truth, claim the right of the 5th Amend. or make excuses is not yet known. We can expect Rep. Conyers, and Nadler to ask some very pointed questions about their roles. I'm sure there will also be the apologists from the Right claiming exactly what Dahlia has pointed out, that the Democrats are just making political hay, or running a witch hunt. I would hope this is more of a true fact-finding mission leading to prosecutions and hopefully punishment. One of the things we know because of the Hearing Rep. Nadler held the other day is that other nations are holding their own investigations. Two of the witnesses revealed that they had been asked to help in those investigation by turning of their research. Even tonight on Bill Moyer's during a piece about author Phillippe Sands, expert on Pinochet, this came up. The following is from the transcript of that show. Please read it slowly.
BILL MOYERS:The legal affairs correspondent of The National Journal, a very respected fellow named Stuart Taylor, says that we should focus on amending the law to prevent future abuse of torture, but not hold those responsible for past interrogations of questionable legality. What do you think about that?
BILL MOYERS:I mean, some people have said that the committee that you appeared before is on a witch hunt to go after these lawyers and the politicians. And some of the critics on the blogs are saying that you're aiding and abetting that.
PHILIPPE SANDS:I think the crucial issue is you've got to ascertain the facts. I was asked by the committee what should happen. My answer to that question was, "Let's sort out the facts. Once we've sorted out the facts, then it will be for others to decide what to do."
PHILIPPE SANDS:I'm satisfied here a crime was committed.
BILL MOYERS:A crime?
PHILIPPE SANDS:A crime was committed.
BILL MOYERS: By?
PHILIPPE SANDS: The Geneva Conventions were plainly violated in relation to this man. And in our system laws, if a man violates the law and commits a crime, he is punishable.
BILL MOYERS:So who violated the law?
PHILIPPE SANDS:I think it goes to the top. And I think that the lawyers contributed to the violation of the law-
BILL MOYERS:But the--
PHILIPPE SANDS:And the lawyers themselves face exposure. But just coming back to this bigger point, I'm not saying there, I'm not on a witch hunt. I'm not saying that there should be a campaign of investigation and prosecution and sentencing, and conviction, and so on and so forth. What I'm saying is let's start by sorting out the facts. Once the facts have been sorted out, let's see exactly what they say, and it will be for others to decide what needs to be done. But until that's done, you can't close on the past and you can't move forward.
BILL MOYERS:But David Rifkin says in the hearing, "I think it would be madness to prosecute anybody, given the facts involved." ... "The efforts to go-- the efforts to go after the lawyers borders, to put it mildly, on madness. Those lawyers were not in any chain of command. They had no theoretical or practical ability to direct actions of anyone who engaged in abusive conduct."
PHILIPPE SANDS:He's just wrong. The lawyers were deeply involved in the decision making process. The lawyers that I've identified, from John Yoo at Department of Justice, preparing a legal memorandum which abandons American and international definitions of torture, and reintroduces a new definition that has never been passed by any legislature, that is totally unacceptable. What was he doing there? Was he really giving legal advice? No he wasn't. He was rubber stamping a policy decision. This is not careful, independent legal advice. What was Jim Haynes doing when he recommended to Donald Rumsfeld the authorization for the approval of 15 techniques of interrogation? He was saying to the Secretary of Defense, I'm your lawyer. I'm telling you this is fine. You can do it. If he hadn't done that, Mr. Rumsfeld would not have signed the piece of paper that Jim Haynes wrote. Jim Haynes is directly involved in the decision making process. And the lawyers, as such, play an absolutely key role. Now, at the end of the day, they're not the most important people. The most important people are the people whose signatures are actually appended. They are the politicians who actually decided the issue. But in this case, without the lawyers, they would never have had a piece of paper to sign.
Bill Moyer and Phillippe Sands You can watch the video or read the transcript at this link.
I'm going to close the same way Bill Moyer did. He asked the question we should search our hearts for the answer of. WHile this part of the transcript is about the Lawyers, remember that we now know this was all caused from the top down, not the bottom up. Meaning it started with Bush and Cheney and migrated downward.
BILL MOYERS:Do you think that people like David Addington and John Yoo and Jim Haynes, and the other lawyers you've mentioned who advised and were on the torture team, should ultimately be held responsible in court for what they did in government at this period of time?
PHILIPPE SANDS:If they were complicit in the commission of a crime, then they should be investigated. And if the facts show that there is a sufficient basis for proceeding to a prosecution, then they should be prosecuted. Lawyers are gatekeepers to legality and constitutionality. If the lawyers become complicit in a common plan to get around the law, to allow abuse, then yes, they should be liable.
BILL MOYERS:There are people who say, "I don't want to hear about this." A lot of Americans say, "I don't want to hear about this." It's like being diagnosed with cancer. You don't really want to hear the terrible news. You know, this is something that was done in a particular period of intense fear and uncertainty. We had been attacked, 3,000 people killed right here in New York. And I just want the government to take care of it. I don't want to hear about the cruelty, the torture, the enhanced interrogation techniques. Do you understand why they would say that?
PHILIPPE SANDS:I do understand that. And here's what I'd say. I would want the government to take care of it in a way that is going to protect me over the long term. And if understand that using abuse produces pictures of the kind that have appeared at Abu Ghraib, and of the kind that have appeared at Guantanamo and are going to make it more difficult for me to protect the American public, I want to know about that. And if it is indeed the case that those pictures are going to make it more difficult to protect the American public, I want to sort it out, that we remove that obstacle to protecting the American public, and we ensure that it doesn't happen again in the future, and as necessary, make sure that those who erred in putting in policies that allow that to happen, face appropriate responsibility.
It is up to us how this narrative ends, with or without Justice. You choose.