Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obama open to investigations

Barack Obama last week released four key memos that detailed the Bush administration's rationale for and examples of torture within the war on terrorism. These memos included how many times we've waterboarded prisoners (over 180 times for one, in one example), a torture technique that was never used but justified (placing a prisoner in a box and filling it with bugs), and many more sordid details of prisoner abuse.

Obama also stated that he would not seek prosecution for CIA officers who carried out the torture, and that's the right move in my mind. Consider this: the president of the United States tells you that something is legal, so you go ahead and do it. Then the new president tells you it's illegal. Would it be fair to prosecute you, then?

The simple answer is it wouldn't be. Those who justified the acts of torture should be prosecuted, not the officers conducting them who were assured they were legal from their superiors. Obama has signaled he wouldn't be opposed to such prosecution, though he is leaving it up to his Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whom to prosecute. Congress may also seek to impeach former Bush aide Jay Bybee, who is currently a federal judge.

These are appropriate actions; it's clear that the torturing techniques we used were not only illegal but also in bad taste. Even John McCain thinks so. Those responsible should be held accountable.

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