Sunday, July 12, 2009

Holder To Investigate Bush Administration Torture?

I'm probably the last to hear about this:
Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform.
Well, that about sums up the situation, yes?

My standard line is roughly:

(a) Moral consideration trump prudential considerations.

(b) We're asking whether we should investigate, not whether we should convict.

(c) Discovering the truth about such matters is, actually, in the long-term prudential interest of the country.

(See how I get to have my cake ((a)) and eat it too ((c))? Clever, eh?)

Questions of this kind are at the heart of who we are as a nation. I'm inclined to think that we have to find out the truth here, whatever it may be. By this point I am, of course, ready to believe almost anything about Bush, Cheney and company--but if I'm wrong, I certainly want to know it. And even I cannot really believe e.g. that Cheney encouraged torture after the invasion to bolster his unwarranted assertions about an Iran-al Qaeda link. That really is Papa Doc territory.

I worry that Republicans have an inclination to a kind of thuggish authoritarianism that, personified, would say something like: "We'll do what we want, and if you gain power and try to hold us accountable, we'll demagogue the issue and take control again." The Dems, on the other hand, seem to be motivate by some mixture of forgiveness and cowardice that I can't quite sort out, which, if personified, would say something like: "maybe if we just let them get away with this one they won't get any madder." (That type of mixture, incidentally, seems common to me.)

Part of the Republican base is easily angered. Heck, they seem to be always already mad. And the worse elements of the GOP will be able to whip them into a frenzy if this investigation spins up. And that will be bad. But if we allow ourselvs to take that into account, we are basically saying that we can never investigate any major Republican wrong-doing. That is to give them carte blanche to do whatever they like. And that would mean the end of the rule of law in America. The sane parts of the GOP don't want that, either, and it's time for those sane parts to assert themselves rather more forcefully.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home