President Obama must prosecute United States war crimes.
How does he deal
with the legacy of criminal actions of his predecessor’s administration
when it comes to detention, interrogation, abuse and torture of terror
suspects? That has long hovered in the back of the minds of those of us
who supported Obama, in large part because he alone had the moral
authority to draw a line underneath the criminality of the George
Bush-Dick Cheney years and restore credibility and hon-our to America’s
So perhaps the sanest way forward is a truth commission,
modelled on those in Chile and South Africa that maintained
governmental continuity for a while but set up a process that allowed
for a maximal gathering of the relevant facts and names. The president
could appoint a powerful and respected prosecutor to begin the process.
The commission would focus not just on the military and CIA but also on
the Bush justice department and Office of Legal Counsel, and the abuse
of the law and its interpretation that gave Bush and Cheney
transparently phoney legal cover for war crimes.
A commission is not enough. Human Justice demands righteous punishment.
If Obama doesn’t punish those that tortured the innocent then he is no
better than the criminal administration he replaced.