Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses
December 22, 2014 8:34 AM   Subscribe

“Mr. Obama has said multiple times that 'we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,' as though the two were incompatible. They are not. The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down.” The New York Times Editorial Board calls for a criminal investigation into the Bush administration's architects of torture. (SLNYT)
posted by Anyamatopoeia (75 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yeah, I would like to see this happen. President Obama has shown some serious balls lately, but let's see how far he's willing to go.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:37 AM on December 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Ever since Ford it's been the rule that Presidents don't prosecute the last guy, no matter what crimes he committed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:40 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I guess the old "Flag is an move on" is not going to cut it here.
posted by 724A at 8:40 AM on December 22, 2014


Good on the NYT to try and walk back some of the damage they did to the country in the Bush years, some of the cover up for torture and wars of opportunity launched then, but do they acknowledge their own role?
posted by MartinWisse at 8:47 AM on December 22, 2014 [58 favorites]


Agreed.
posted by allthinky at 8:50 AM on December 22, 2014


The NYT takes a courageous stand against torture, rape and murder.

Next thing you know, they will say robbing banks is a crime.

Okay, that was a stretch.
posted by Repack Rider at 8:50 AM on December 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


Bush actually had to cancel a planned trip to Switzerland because of fears that he'd be arrested once he got there. Would that our government had the same will as the Swiss one has.
posted by holborne at 8:52 AM on December 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


If Bush is explicitly pardoned, that will make him guilty in the court of public opinion forever because there must have been something to pardon him for . While a prosecution will just get mired in the legal system for 10 years or so and go nowhere.
posted by miyabo at 8:57 AM on December 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


I support this, as long as the prosecutions are aimed at the top. I want to see Rumsfeld et al on the stand, not some low level career CIA staffer who was worried about his pension.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:58 AM on December 22, 2014 [21 favorites]


With Dick Cheney openly saying its ok to torture innocent peopel, an investigation would be nice step.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:59 AM on December 22, 2014 [18 favorites]


... 'we need to look forward pay it forward as opposed to looking backwards' ...

FTFY, Barry.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:13 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


But... Bush was just following orders!

All gallows humor aside, I dream of seeing Bush and all of his pals tarred and feathered. I just hope it happens soon. Sometimes the Buzzfeed millennials seem this close to forgetting just how rotten the man is and embracing him as a lovable coot who paints kooky pictures. I often fear that within my lifetime he'll see a Reagan-esque public image reappraisal and they'll start naming airports and high schools after the fucker.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:26 AM on December 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


You know who might have the moral authority and willingness to push this forward without being accused of a partisan smear job? Bush's old rival, John McCain. I think anything led by a Democrat is dead in the water.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:27 AM on December 22, 2014 [28 favorites]


I often fear that within my lifetime he'll see a Reagan-esque public image reappraisal and they'll start naming airports and high schools after the fucker.

I encountered someone recently who believed that to be the truth about IAH. So either they were just that or just blitheringly stupid. (Like Dubya.)
posted by mephron at 9:31 AM on December 22, 2014


I thought this was a much better writeup than anything I saw in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal:

Torture Architect Torturously Tries to Justify Program

It's a blog post and it's polemical but the author whose name isn't obvious has a big batch of good links.
posted by bukvich at 9:32 AM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wouldn't it be wonderful if a bunch of other newspapers took up the same editorial stance?
posted by Nelson at 9:38 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Holborne, how I would love for Bush or Cheney to be arrested and taken to The Hague during a trip abroad!
posted by Tarumba at 9:39 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


According to Holborne's link Amnesty International says

"Anywhere in the world that he travels, President Bush could face investigation and potential prosecution for his responsibility for torture and other crimes in international law, particularly in any of the 147 countries that are party to the UN convention against torture."

Why hasn't this happened yet?
posted by Tarumba at 9:43 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fiat justitia ruat caelum.
posted by Gelatin at 9:44 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Never, ever going to happen.
posted by dejah420 at 9:44 AM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


I agree with dejah420. The system is too corrupt to be trusted to police itself. Never gonna happen.
posted by Quasimike at 10:02 AM on December 22, 2014




I have facebook friends who are torture apologists. It makes me feel betrayed.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:34 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have never agreed with a newspaper so strongly in my life.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:43 AM on December 22, 2014


He should prosecute himself first for droning hundreds of children.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:53 AM on December 22, 2014


Joey Michaels: "You know who might have the moral authority and willingness to push this forward without being accused of a partisan smear job? Bush's old rival, John McCain."

Moral Authority? Sure. Willingness? To a degree, but to the degree of actually pushing for prosecuting a former president? It's easy to push a bill against torture, it's harder to stand firm and calling for prosecution of one of the most powerful men in the world. Harder still when that president is in your party, and harder still when one of the criminals is Dick "Torture Is My Favorite Pastime" Cheney.
posted by symbioid at 10:53 AM on December 22, 2014


I have facebook friends who are torture apologists. It makes me feel betrayed.

Tell them why George Washington thinks they are shitheads....

"Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause... for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country."
-- George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775

Though you will probably get back a heady derp-alanche of "not actually enemy soldiers" and other such horseshit to mask that the real reason they don't care is that they don really consider Middle Easterners to be, ya know, people and all that.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:58 AM on December 22, 2014 [29 favorites]


Senor: The response I actually got, more than once, is "but this is different".
posted by Cosine at 11:28 AM on December 22, 2014


"Tell them why George Washington thinks they are shitheads...."

They will just rewrite history to leave out George Washington, like they are doing to Thomas Jefferson.
posted by BentFranklin at 11:43 AM on December 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


By the way, I love that the editorial, at least in the online version, is topped by a big ol' honkin' photo of Dick Cheney.
posted by Gelatin at 11:45 AM on December 22, 2014


So - I have an idea that we might be able reduce the heat from N. Korea for the Sony shit while still bringing a torture architect AND apologist who doesn't even need to be tortured to admit he's pro-torture, to justice.

North Korea, we will ship you one certified Richard Cheney in exchange for our "crime" of producing "The Interview".

We will keep other entities as needed for exchange should we further offend you. Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Bush, Tenet, Goss and Hayden...
posted by symbioid at 11:53 AM on December 22, 2014


Never, ever going to happen.

Whether or not it actually will happen, there should be a thunderous chorus of calls for it to happen. If (just for example) a few dozen other major media organizations across the country called for it to happen, that could change our national discussion on the subject of torture in a major way.

It seems to me that a huge part of the discussion since the release of the torture report has been about whether or not anything will happen.

Instead of endlessly nattering on about whether the odds are that something will happen or not, we should be forcefully stating, in no uncertain terms, what should happen.

You don't always get what you ask for, but if you don't ask--directly and forcefully--you don't stand a chance of getting it.

There should be a thundering chorus of Obama supporters* across the country pushing him HARD to do what he's said he doesn't want to.

Do we know of ANY other major newspapers or media outlets that have come out with a similar editorial stance? It's a bit unbelievable this is the first/only--there should be a veritable avalanche.

*And others, of course, but the voters and institutions who supported him in the first place would carry by far the most weight on this.
posted by flug at 11:59 AM on December 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I would like to see this happen. President Obama has shown some serious balls lately, but let's see how far he's willing to go.

Given that it would be entirely reasonable to expect the guy who signed off on the murder of innocent civilians via drone strikes ti be among he defendants, I don't think it's likely that Obama's going to move on this.
posted by layceepee at 12:10 PM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Has there ever been any successful prosecution in the USA against a CIA officer for crimes they committed while on the job?

A bit of googling revealed no indications that this has ever happened.
posted by el io at 12:15 PM on December 22, 2014


Surely this...
posted by evil otto at 12:39 PM on December 22, 2014


Has there ever been any successful prosecution in the USA against a CIA officer for crimes they committed while on the job?

Well, there is John Kiriakou, CIA analyst who was successfully prosecuted for leaking information revealing the CIA torture program.
posted by ennui.bz at 12:47 PM on December 22, 2014 [19 favorites]


Don't have a clue as to the mefite demographics. But G W Bush and D Cheney are revered heroes down here in south Florida. They saved us from the terrrists Obama is preparing to unleash on us.
posted by notreally at 1:47 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


But G W Bush and D Cheney are revered heroes down here in south Florida.

Christ, still? I was under the impression that by the time W left office even the reddest red states had wised up about the guy, but that he was regarded as a bad apple rather than representing any systemic rottenness within the GOP itself.

So, did people stay stupid about him all this time, or did they briefly come to their senses and then get stupid again?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:10 PM on December 22, 2014


Next thing you know, they will say robbing banks is a crime.

I've always had trouble with gerunds...
posted by Trochanter at 2:23 PM on December 22, 2014


Don't make too much noise about prosecuting W, or you'll see Jeb installed to the throne.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:52 PM on December 22, 2014


... particularly in any of the 147 countries that are party to the UN convention against torture.

The US is one of those countries. Failure to prosecute is a violation of the treaty, which makes it a violation of US law.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:59 PM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


The US is pretty comfortable ignoring and violating treaties.

We have a long tradition of it.
posted by el io at 4:00 PM on December 22, 2014


When trying to understand the power of the CIA to avoid prosecution it may help to remember that at least one of their men has been president (Bush the elder).
posted by srboisvert at 4:29 PM on December 22, 2014


So we think the CIA might already own the whole shop and that's why we shouldn't investigate? Nobody ever said it was easy to do the right thing, but this is one of those situations where the costs of not doing the right thing are only going to get higher and higher over time.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:47 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's like the CIA's completely mastered the art of "learned helplessness" by means other than physical coercion.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:08 PM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


And in case you wonder where the Bush family's loyalties lie, keep in mind that Grandpa Prescott Bush was involved in a plot to overthrow Roosevelt (not to mention, was chummy with the Nazis). Look up the Smedley Butler and the Business Plot for more details.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:56 PM on December 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


It occurs to me, Obama may not prosecute, but so long as he doesn't pardon the (other) scoundrels, there is still hope that they will one day be prosecuted.

Right?
posted by allthinky at 5:59 PM on December 22, 2014


"Mr. Obama has said multiple times that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards," ... Upward, not forward! And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:04 PM on December 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


I would like to see them prosecuted for torture but I don't believe it will ever happen. Obama will weigh the political results and the extreme partisan environment we live in and continue to do nothing. It does make the ACLU proposal to pardon the relevant individuals as a way of establishing that torture is indeed a crime and should not continue to be allowed while being politically feasible. And how grotesque that we live in a time where that is the best likely outcome.
posted by leslies at 6:50 PM on December 22, 2014


People need to get out on the streets to demand prosecution. Killer cops and institutionalized torture aren't just two sides of the same coin, they're, like, two interlaced vignettes on the same side of a coin.
posted by threeants at 7:04 PM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


(Not to imply that the movement for police justice and racial parity needs to change focus or step aside. Just that hopefully there's room for both, and synergy between the two.)
posted by threeants at 7:12 PM on December 22, 2014


I'm thinking it's time to run for office. Seriously. Those guys get away with murder.
posted by valkane at 7:25 PM on December 22, 2014


I do hope Bush administration officials do times, but the most likely scenario is a few bad CIA officers like Alfreda Frances Bikowsky take the fall, if even that.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:07 PM on December 22, 2014


People need to get out on the streets to demand prosecution.

Another thing that will never happen. If people didn't take to the streets after SCOTUS ran roughshod over the will of the electorate and installed Bush as president in Bush v Gore, they never will, ever.
posted by holborne at 10:07 PM on December 22, 2014


I'm thinking it's time to run for office. Seriously. Those guys get away with murder.

I believe cop or CIA also suit your interests.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:32 PM on December 22, 2014


I'm thinking it's time to run for office. Seriously. Those guys get away with murder.

That's being smart from the very beginning.
posted by flabdablet at 10:43 PM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was under the impression that by the time W left office even the reddest red states had wised up about the guy, but that he was regarded as a bad apple rather than representing any systemic rottenness within the GOP itself.

I get the impression that conservatives became disillusioned with W in retrospect because he wasn't conservative enough and compromised too much with Democrats. Of course this kind of sentiment is mostly coming from the full-on-crazeball element that took over the GOP, following in the wake of crazeball pioneers like Rick Santelli, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:14 AM on December 23, 2014


I don't think Bush or Cheney will ever be prosecuted in the US, for this reason: Some of the people who voted for them may decide that they shouldn't have, but the vast majority of those millions of people will never admit that their votes were a mistake.

Of course, Bush and his crew have already been convicted of war crimes.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:11 AM on December 23, 2014


Is there only reason NOT to do this fear of payback down the road? Meaning a potential next Republican president will decide it's fine idea to prosecute former President Obama?
posted by pipti at 7:09 AM on December 23, 2014


If people didn't take to the streets after SCOTUS ran roughshod over the will of the electorate and installed Bush as president in Bush v Gore, they never will, ever.

But people did take to the streets. I was there, on the streets of D.C., protesting Bush's first inauguration with thousands of others. He spent a record amount of time in his limo - as opposed to walking the parade route - because people were throwing rotten eggs. I never even saw the cars, there were so many people.

I attended so many Bush protests in the early aughts - against his inauguration, against the war in Afghanistan, against the war in Iraq, both before and after it started. And what I remember most vividly is going home, turning on the news, and seeing the mainstream media's complete silence about it. Only the most enormous protests would be covered at all, and even those for maybe five seconds. If we managed to get ten thousand protesters, at most they'd estimate two thousand and focus the entire story on the miracle that those filthy hippies didn't even burn down a Starbucks or hurt anyone.

Did you take to the streets, or did you watch TV? Because yes, the people took to the streets. They just didn't make it all the way to CNN.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 7:53 AM on December 23, 2014 [10 favorites]


ah, such a wonderful dream.
posted by Zed at 1:57 PM on December 23, 2014




Yes, Anyamatopoeia, thanks for asking, I actually did attend several protests and marches during the Bush years and no, I did not just sit home watching TV. But since throwing eggs at a motorcade didn't seem to have the desired effect and Bush remained in office for the next eight years, driving the country and arguably the world nearly to the brink of collapse, you'll perhaps forgive me for thinking that the efficacy of such actions was less than might have been optimal.
posted by holborne at 8:54 PM on December 23, 2014


We've no NSA thread open so I'll post this Crimethinc. link here, well it relates to John Kiriakou too.

Beyond Whistleblowing : The limits of whistleblowing as strategy, & what comes next
posted by jeffburdges at 11:14 AM on December 24, 2014






And in case you wonder where the Bush family's loyalties lie, keep in mind that Grandpa Prescott Bush was involved in a plot to overthrow Roosevelt (not to mention, was chummy with the Nazis). Look up the Smedley Butler and the Business Plot for more details.

Don't forget HW was the director of the CIA.
posted by srboisvert at 6:36 PM on December 24, 2014




Has there ever been any successful prosecution in the USA against a CIA officer for crimes they committed while on the job?

Well, there is John Kiriakou, CIA analyst who was successfully prosecuted for leaking information revealing the CIA torture program.


Torture Whistleblower John Kiriakou: “I’m the Only One in Prison.” The former CIA agent says he’d “do it all again.”
posted by homunculus at 12:33 PM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]




We'll need a new post for this one :
CIA on Trial in Virginia for Planting Nuke Evidence in Iran
posted by jeffburdges at 6:26 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]










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