Saturday, April 04, 2009

It's Getting Harder To Avoid

Even the "center left" editorial board of the Los Angeles Times is now calling for investigations of members of the Bush administration for their role in illegal activities justified by "The Global War On Terror." Kidnappings, illegal detentions in secret prisons and at Guantanamo Bay, the use of torture during interrogations: all are activities deplored by civilized nations, so deplored that those nations crafted treaties and conventions to ban such behavior. The United States is a signatory to those treaties, yet under George W. Bush, those treaties were ignored and subverted under the guise of national security, but, it now appears, in reality to enhance the power of the then-sitting president.

While the language of the Times editorial is tepid and a bit stiff, the message is fairly clear. President Obama can no longer ignore the call by the world and his own nation to investigate and to prosecute as necessary the crimes of the last administration.

The Obama administration has deleted the term "global war on terror" from the government lexicon but is finding it more difficult to wipe the slate on some of the dark activities that rhetoric was used to justify. Since his election, President Obama has said he would prefer to look forward instead of backward at charges that the Bush administration used illegal detention and torture to prosecute its campaign against terrorism. That's an understandable political impulse, but it may prove difficult to sustain.

A Spanish court has opened criminal proceedings against six senior Bush administration officials accused of providing the legal framework to allow the torture of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center ...

The Spanish case comes on the heels of a British investigation into whether an MI5 security official colluded with American agents to torture Binyam Mohamed, a British resident held at Guantanamo. The two cases reflect a growing international determination to find out whether the Bush administration abandoned the rule of law in pursuit of terrorists. We too want to know. ...

The Obama administration must restore the international community's confidence in the U.S. rule of law, as well as our own. That means that investigations into possible criminal wrongdoing in the terror war should proceed with all due care and vigor. Once the probes are completed, the findings should be made public, whenever possible. And, as Obama has said, if there was criminal wrongdoing, there should be prosecutions.
[Emphasis added]

Why is that such a difficult proposition to understand?

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