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So, it's hardly news 'round these parts that there's what one might call a distinct possibility the United States (alongside various allies, my own country, the UK, amongst them) may have been naughty and made a boo-boo with regard to its obligations to not commit war-crimes. However, what is new is that, through the clear implication of his words today, we may have a new case for asking the support of one Barack Obama in investigating such incidents, not to mention following-up on any findings of such investigations.

Backing up a tad, between evidence that the ongoing sojourn in Iraq constitutes a war of aggression, that the treatment of detainees at various sites has on numerous occasions crossed the torture threshold, as well as a few other less prominently-known examples, it doesn't appear to be too much of a stretch of the imagination to reach the conclusion that some such charges just might have merit. Indeed, the leaked ICRC report linked to above concludes that

"The allegations of ill-treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture. In addition, many other elements of the ill-treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."

However, whilst Congress has at least made some modest, perfunctory efforts to begin proceedings on these matters, including the recently-failed proposition of a Truth and Reconciliations Commission and the even more recent talk of requesting a special prosecutor, the administrative branch has at least appeared to be, if anything, even less inclined towards such proceedings.

However, today, whilst in Prague, President Obama made a speech, and an excellent speech it was, addressing a variety of pressing international issues. Near the end of his oratorical tour-de-force, however, my ears really pricked up when he stated that "America broke the rules... Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent..."

Alright, alright, you caught me, my fellow fact-checking Kossacks, the President didn’t actually say that – well, not quite, at any rate. He said most of it, and I truly don't think I've significantly altered the logical or legal foundations nor progression of his argument. What you may have noticed, however, is that I did rather fudge the subjects of his quotation. The President was, of course, referencing the prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons and the country in violation of the rules in question was North Korea.

I think that it's entirely fair to write to President Obama and ask in which respects his arguments regarding the necessity of obeying international law and the necessity to stand in opposition to those who would violate it, are not applicable to the question of war crimes committed by members of the Bush administration, and to request that he follow both his words and his conscience in asking Attorney-General Eric Holder to look into these matters. Failing that, it might make a decent premise for a LTE submission to some of your newspapers – preferably by someone better skilled with words (or at least succinctness) than I.

I appreciate that President Obama is only a few months into his term, I appreciate that this is an extremely delicate issue, politically, I appreciate that he may in fact agree with us and want to take this matter on but is waiting for the public to, as one of his predecessors famously put it, " make me do it." However, if that is the case, we need to, y'know, make him do it, and if it's not, then, well, we need to make him do it in that case as well. If this idea plays even a teeny-teeny-tiny </Rachel-mode> part in helping that to occur then I'll be a very satisfied bunny indeed.

Originally posted to petulans on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 01:48 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips/flames/pokes-in-the-eye/whatever (10+ / 0-)

    Thanks for reading my little proposition, folks. Any suggestions/critiques are most welcome, just try to be gentle with me, it’s my first-time (posting, that is!) Oh, heck, who am I kidding, this is DailyKos – feel free to flay me and stick my head on a pike at the gates of town as a warning ;P

    •  You are correct - he must be pushed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skrekk, petulans, luckylizard

      Just think about all the advisors who are telling him it's going to interfere with his plans, that they can trust themselves to do the right thing so accountability for the past administration isn't necessary, etc.

      Obama doesn't want to be the bad cop, we need to be that.   Thanks for pushing that.  

      Vote No to the Spending Cap in California (Prop 1A) - Don't Make the Budget Madness Worse

      by PeteB2 on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 02:09:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Absolutely, there are so many cases to be made to not take the bull by the horns and so many other priorities that making the case to not do anything (at least for now) is easy. That certainly doesn't mean that it is right, however, and I actually do believe that President Obama is a fundamentally decent person and is at least open to taking this issue on. Problem is, if it's not something there's at least some clamor for then it'll be (even more easily) spun as a partisan  witch-hunt. Besides, regardless of whether he's inclined to investigate or not, it seems that the appropriate action for those of us who are is to make a ruckus over it!

  •  Someone, somehow (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    needs to make it safe for more whistle-blowers to come forward.  The push needs to come in the form of overwhelming evidence from many sources, a drip, drip, drip that becomes a torrent.  There has GOT to be a way for people with information to be protected so that we can deal with this.  If we don't, there will be a cloud over everything we do, no matter how beneficial and/or benign.  How will anyone ever trust us?  How will we trust ourselves?

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 05:05:27 PM PDT

    •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Whistle-blower protection reform could indeed lead to revelations which I rather imagine would make investigations unavoidable. I seem to remember hearing some talk of such reforms a while back, but I'm not sure where, if anywhere, that lead.

      As for the drip-drip-drip approach, if it's lots of drips on unrelated stories or spread over any serious amount of time, I'm not sure that the TradMed wouldn't still be able to sideline them. Then again, they've managed to sideline several pretty big single-event revelations as well, though often not without some appreciable movement in public-opinion along some front or other. I suppose that short of a(nother) really egregious incident which clearly shows the Bush gang using utterly, viscerally unacceptable methods for keeping something itself completely vile quiet, it'll be tough to overcome the pushback. Short of the proverbial live-boy/dead-girl/Cheney-feasting-on-the-blood-of-newborns-on-primetime, the TradMed are going to stand a fair chance of downplaying things if there's not some other factor pushing them or more likely the public to get up in their/the government's face to actually deal with it. Of course, if I knew how to get that to happen, I'd be posting it! Still, I suppose that in lieu of having a solution, throwing out theories/discussing how to come up with other ones'll have to do!

      One way or another, you're right, we absolutely have to sort this situation out in order for anyone to be willing to look us in the eye again, including ourselves.

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