Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Torture Debate: Laying Out the Terms


You may or may not follow "Talking Points Memo"
<< >> which is one of the most widely-read political blogs.
Anyway, under a recent report about the president-elect naming a Department of Justice transitional chief, the first two comments seemed to me to be important background items as we look ahead, because they lay out the terms of an ongoing debate.
Here they are.
First Comment: I realize I'm in the minority, but I believe it is of the utmost importance that the DOJ go after any and all that worked to undermine our civil rights. The acts of spying on Americans without a warrant, among many other criminal acts need to be investigated and brought to trial. That includes Torture and the murder of prisoners in our custody. The violation of the Geneva Convention cannot be allowed to go unpunished . . . no matter how politically dangerous it may be.

Second Comment: <<< "The violation of the Geneva Convention cannot be allowed to go unpunished .no matter how politically dangerous it may be." >>>
No. People want to move on. They shouldn't want to...they should be hungry for blood, for justice, to right the wrongs and all that, but half the country was (voting-wise) complicit in the madness of the last regime, and folks don't like having their noses rubbed in it.
The bureaucratic purification should occur, but quietly. The focus should be on nuts 'n bolts stuff: antitrust, securities, and the like. There are lots of good antitrust lawyers out there who have been twiddling their thumbs since 1978. Give 'em some work, especially now that the spotlight is on corporate malfeasance.>>

These two comments lay out concisely the ongoing debate over what to do about torture in the coming years: Forget It and Move On, versus Enforce the Law Come What May.

My own personal view is that, while there are certainly plenty of other critical problems to be dealt with (see under: "Economy, Collapse"; "Iraq, Quagmire," etc.), giving impunity to those who planned, carried out, and justified torture creates a problem of a different, and very grave magnitude. It cuts at the very root of our constitutional order.Impunity (which is the outcome of the "Move On" approach) will accelerate what I have dubbed "The Torture Transition," the extremely dangerous shift from regarding it as a shocking anomaly to accepting it as a regrettable but tolerable precedent. This concern has occurred to others involved in this issue as well.
This "Torture transition" should be resisted and stopped. I’ve written about this task in more detail in an article, ‘Torture & Impunity," just published in Friends Journal’s December 2008 issue. That article is available online here: Torture & Impunity.

"The Torture Transition." How do we stop it? This question is also part of the basis for the "START NOW" program for ending torture discussed below.

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