Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thursday talk radio update

Warren Olney's "To the Point" discussed the possibility of prosecuting war crimes within the Bush administration once Bush leaves office. Glenn Greenwald of Salon fame made the simplest possible case for prosecution: Either we are a nation of laws or we are not. Let top public officials off the hook because it is politically inconvenient to prosecute them, and justice is robbed of all meaning.

Olney being Olney, he of course had people on who disagreed. The argument generally runs that the case is unclear and that there is a legal underpinning to the administration's claims that it has acted legally. Greenwald replied that if we refuse to prosecute any administration that manages to concoct a legal theory, then we abandon prosecution altogether.

Makes sense to me.

Meanwhile, there is talk that Obama may create an independent commission to look into the matter. Most of us roll our eyes at the thought of another federal commission, but Scott Horton made a compelling case in the latest issue of Harper's (available here but not legible without a subscription). Whether or not a commission results a prosecution, it has benefits, Scott Horton argues. It helps earn public support for the anti-torture position, and it signals to the world that America's torture chamber days are behind it. Those are good reasons.


Chuck Rightmire said...

I would hope the prosecution would also include some counts based on violations of the first amendment and some of the others that have been done throughout the current Administration. We have set a terrible precedent for the future, no matter who the president is at the time.

David said...

One point that Scott Horton makes (if I am paraphrasing correctly) is that charges of political payback are inevitable in this sort of case. That's why he recommended focusing on torture, which is the most heinous of the crimes and the one most in need of public repudiation.