Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Monday, April 27, 2009

J D Tucille, "The Obama administration should prosecute torture officials (but probably won't)," Examiner, April 23, 2009.

[ provides an alternative headline for this piece: "No torture prosecutions without public pressure." -jlt]

The question of the hour -- well, one of the questions, anyway -- is whether President Barack Obama will permit or even encourage the Department of Justice to prosecute torturers and the Bush administration officials who enabled them. Obama is playing Hamlet, with "no, I won't" moments alternating with hints of "yes, I will." As a result, he's managed to draw fire from both civil libertarians and hard-line hawks. But the truth of the matter is that the current president and his advisors are probably worried that they, themselves, may some day end up as defendants if they hold their predecessors accountable for their crimes.

Let's be clear -- the Bush administration presided over some unspeakable acts. The Red Cross and the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas are among the organizations that documented deliberate and systematic abuse of detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere. Prisoners have been subject to suffocation by water, prolonged standing with arms chained above their heads, beatings, confinement in a box, sleep deprivation and other tactics that involve both physical and psychological abuse.

  ...running through the minds of Obama administration officials right about now are fevered images of hearings and trials four or eight years in the future, holding them accountable for their own crimes.

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