Thursday, December 18, 2008

New York Times Joins Chorus for Torture Prosecutions

We can understand that Americans may be eager to put these dark chapters behind them, but it would be irresponsible for the nation and a new administration to ignore what has happened — and may still be happening in secret C.I.A. prisons that are not covered by the military’s current ban on activities like waterboarding.

A prosecutor should be appointed to consider criminal charges against top officials at the Pentagon and others involved in planning the abuse.
In an editorial today, The New York Times has joined with bloggers and the ACLU demanding that a prosecutor be appointed to determine charges against top Bush and Pentagon officials. They don't say if this should be from within the Justice Department or an independent prosecutor, though they do call for "an independent panel" to look further into the facts behind Bush's torture gulag.

Of course, for the cynical NYT, at the same time they call for prosecutions, they admit they don't believe Obama, with so much on his plate, will actually act upon their call: "we do not hold out real hope that Barack Obama, as president, will take such a politically fraught step."

Well, it's progress of a sort if the NYT believes that to be politically correct they must call for prosecutions. The crimes adumbrated in even the declassified portions of the Levin/McCain report are too telling. Something must be done, even from the standpoint of the Establishment.

While all the NYT has in mind is prattling, their call shows that public clamor is growing. We must not let the Times brand of cynicism derail this movement. Write your Congressperson and demand that George W. Bush and his administration and Pentagon cronies answer legally for the crimes against humanity they have committed.

An aside: the NYT also continue to push their silly story that the torture techniques taught at Guantanamo by the SERE psychologists were "based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War." Even the Senate report has backed down from the characterization and said SERE techniques were devised from Chinese "agents" only "in part." If you're trying to whip up racist hatred and political fear towards an adversary, like China, the truth is an important weapon.

For more information on where U.S. torture really originated, read my history of the subject: Nuts & Bolts -- How U.S. Organized Torture Program.

For the NYT editorial, H/T to Glenn Greenwald

Scott Horton has his own blog piece on the editorial, but he focuses on the pathetic coverage of the Senate investigations and report by the NYT.

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