That the Bush administration ordered waterboarding is a fact–they’ve proudly admitted to it. That waterboarding is torture is clear–we’ve prosecuted people for doing it to our soldiers. It did not cease to be illegal over the last eight years because John Yoo and David Addington wrote memos saying the president can do whatever he sees fit. That is the Nixon defense: “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” Not so, unless we allow them to get away.
Most politicians and pundits want to “move on” and think investigating and subsequently prosecuting members of the Bush administration for their numerous violations of the Constitution and International Law would be “bad for the country.”
It was Bush that was bad for the country.
We face a lot of other problems that need our attention. But we can walk and chew gum at the same time.
Why is punishing lawbreakers so controversial at the national political level? We clamor for harsh sentences for poor drug addicts, but when a president breaks laws or kills thousands we develop amnesia. We claim to be a nation of laws and not of men. Let’s back it up.
The idea that doing this is “looking back” or “obsessing over the past” is an idea I’d like to hear a common criminal express when the police show up at their door. Unless we have entered the era of Pre-Crime foretold by Philip K. Dick, we have no choice but to “look back” as we prosecute a crime. They usually occur in the past. And prosecuting them today is a way to send a message to presidents in the future.
So let’s look forward…to the fair trials we are obligated to give all of our citizens who break the law.