December 14, 2008

Torture and justice

As I have said here many times, nothing over the last 8 years has dismayed me more than our President's decision to torture others in our name. If anything has dismayed me more, it has been the accompanying silence from those evangelicals who in other areas exert a moral authority informed by their faith. I was convinced they would respond to torture, and I was amazed that they did not.

I still recall the Clinton impeachment years, when the Republicans pushed the procedure through over the objections of the American people and shouted "rule of law" over and over. I certainly commend their dedication to that law, but stand by amazed as the same people who were willing to bring the country to a standstill over Clinton's sexual indiscretion and his subsequent juvenile lying about said indiscretion--now stand by as our still President Bush has authorized torture over and over and over again. This week, we saw the understandable uproar over Balgojevich's brazen corruption, but as Daniel Larison points out, the political class seems to think that bribery is more important than torture:
Even so, am I the only one who finds it absolutely crazy that anyone is this concerned about Obama’s answers on Blagojevich when we have just had a Senate report released that confirms that the highest levels of the current administration were implicated in and responsible for serious violations of the law? This is the sort of thing that some people have insisted not be investigated and prosecuted during the next administration’s tenure for various unpersuasive reasons, and not least because of the concern that it would appear to be a partisan witch-hunt. Obviously, we are not concerned about such appearances in Blagojevich’s case, because we think it important to enforce the law here, so why not enforce it when the crimes involved are far more serious and there are far greater breaches of the public trust?

He is not the only one puzzled by our willingness to just let torture go. Hat tip to my friend Bootleg Blogger for pointing me to this Bill Moyers interview with Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald argues that we have just reinforced a two-tiered criminal system. Average Americans could expect severe punishment for breaking the law, but George Bush, Dick Cheney and the crew of tyranny should not be punished for their massive attack on our values.
"We have a law in place that says it is a felony offense punishable by five years in prison or a $10,000 fine to eavesdrop on American citizens without warrants. We have laws in place that say that it is a felony punishable by decades in prison to subject detainees in our custody to treatment that violates the Geneva Conventions or that is inhumane or coercive.

We know that the president and his top aides have violated these laws. The facts are indisputable that they've done so. And yet as a country, as a political class, we're deciding basically in unison that the president and our highest political officials are free to break the most serious laws that we have, that our citizens have enacted, with complete impunity, without consequences, without being held accountable under the law."

The interview is worth the watch, and raises questions we should all ask. My conversations with friends on the conservative side suggest that we never will.


steves said...

The most depressing thing about the Moyers interview was Glenn pointing out how willing most people are (in the name of bipartisanship) to put up with this kind of stuff.

I'd like to see Obama make a firm commitment to eliminating the torture programs started by Bush and the rendition programs that were started by Clinton, but also used by Bush.

Tony said...

it has been the accompanying silence from those evangelicals who in other areas exert a moral authority informed by their faith.

However, even Bush isn't convinced any longer of his own moral authority. Somebody remains deluded somewhere.

Bootleg Blogger said...

This could have been taken care of long ago but Conyers was dismissed back in 2005(?). Kucinich is the latest to introduce the articles but after having it read into the record he recommended it be referred to the judiciary committee. Sheesh!!! So much for trying to find a spinal column in a politician these days. Impeachment has been written off or even laughed away, but this presidency has screamed for it for years. Now we're going to have to hope someone will investigate after Bush is out of office (I"m holding my breath!). Later-BB