Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is It Rule of Law Yet?

The crimes were committed, and until they are punished the United States has sunk to a place in the world among the rogue states. There are no justifications for allowing crimes to go unpunished.

Those who love justice and our country continue to insist that we can't walk on, over the tortured and the abused from the previous maladministration's malfeasance. Jane Mayer brought out some actions taking place in the New Yorker, writing about Phillipe Sands' Torture Team.

About a year ago, a book came out in England that made a fascinating prediction: at some point in the future, the author wrote, six top officials in the Bush Administration would get a tap on the shoulder announcing that they were being arrested on international charges of torture.
The current torture case began in the spring of 2004, when photographs of abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib surfaced. Sands said that he read the protestations of innocence from Bush Administration officials, who blamed a few “bad apples” for the incidents, with the eye of a barrister. He recalled, “I could spot right away that they were speaking as advocates of a cause. So I decided to find out what really happened.” While keeping up his busy law practice, he travelled to America to interview the key players in what he described as “a writing project I am engaged in on international law and the war on terror.” Many Bush officials, including Feith and William J. Haynes II, the former Pentagon general counsel, who was also named in the Spanish lawsuit, agreed to meet with Sands, perhaps expecting a friendly chat. “I spent two years trekking around the country, finding out that they were manifestly untruthful,” Sands said. “I’ve got a particular bugbear about lawyers,” he added. “If not for lawyers, none of these abuses would have ever occurred.”

As Sands went about his research, he conferred with human-rights experts all over Europe on his findings. Word spread that he had the makings of a high-level war-crimes case. Sands won’t reveal exactly which human-rights authorities he consulted. But, in recent months, one of them was Gonzalo Boye, the Chilean-born Spanish lawyer who last week filed the criminal complaint against the Bush officials, on behalf of five former prisoners who were, they allege, tortured in the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay. Boye said last week of Sands, “Let me just say that he played a very big role in my thinking. His book showed me who the targets were.” Feith, reached on the phone, called Sands’s book “wildly inaccurate.” He said, “It’s not a happy thing for the Spanish Court to think of prosecuting Americans for advice they gave to the President of the United States!”

It is hard to predict what will happen next, but, if arrest warrants are issued, the Obama Administration may be forced either to extradite the former officials or to start its own investigation. Sands, who admires Obama, said, “I regret that I have added to his in-box when he has so much else to sort out. But I hope he does the right thing. There’s not much dispute anymore: torture happened, and the law is clear—torture must be punished.”

War criminals have done irreparable damage to our country. We cannot ignore their crimes, and remain in any sustainable place in the world at large.

Other countries, whose citizens were treated in subhuman manner by ours, will have to act in the interest of justice if we do not. The snatching of human beings and their treatment as less than human cannot be tolerated, or it will happen again and a suspension of justice be used to establish grounds for repeating the abuses.

We can only be redeemed as a nation of laws when we abide by those laws.

(h/t to Dan Froomkin)

Labels: , ,


Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Is It Rule of Law Yet?

Alternate question: Is it habeas corpus yet?

Short answer: No

Slightly longer: Don't hold your breath.

2:13 PM  
Blogger AnnPW said...

I concur wholeheartedly Ruth - Thanks for this post.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

If the rest of the world has to do the pushing, more embarrassment, we need to take the initiative. Thanks, AnnPw.

2:55 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home