Friday, February 20, 2009

Not Doomed to Repeat Mistakes

The Constitution Project is earning its name today, by calling for a full inquiry into the violations of law that were committed to bring this nation to practice torture. We can never escape the shame entailed in that tragedy until we get the crimes in the open. In my opinion, we have to prosecute, or there is no rule of law.

Leaders from across the political spectrum, including a former FBI director, an Army general who investigated detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, and a former Under Secretary of State, today called upon President Obama to appoint a non-partisan commission to examine policies related to the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees following the September 11 terrorist attacks. The commission would investigate the government’s alleged detainee abuse and related constitutional and legal violations.

Here is the full statement:

“We urge President Obama to appoint a non-partisan commission of distinguished Americans to examine, and provide a comprehensive report on, policies and actions related to the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees after 9/11 and the consequences of those actions, and to make recommendations for future policy in this area.
(snip)
“The Constitution Project believes that an investigative commission is a critical step in reaffirming our nation’s commitment to the rule of law,” said Policy Counsel Becky Monroe. “We need a full understanding of the failures of the recent past in order to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. A non-partisan commission, removed from the influence of politics, is the best way to accomplish this goal.”


We should never have come to this shameful point, but we can climb out. The law does not really work until it is used, and in this case, to prosecute.

One of my favorite quotes is:

George Santayana:

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.


We cannot live in honor until we correct our own past, and avoid complicity with torture.

(h/t Dan Froomkin)

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