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January 08, 2009

Comments

microgod

I hope he will not receive a general pardon.

Detlef

"If the American people were genuinely interested in truth and justice, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld would be charged with war crimes. That will not happen, but there are other - symbolic - actions that incoming president Barack Obama can take to show the world that America will no longer engage in the practice of torture:
...
More likely, Obama will simply make sure — through his excellent team of legal appointees — that no such behavior happens again."

Well, how can he do that? Especially for the Presidents after him? If Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld etc. aren´t prosecuted, doesn´t that mean that a future President can use their actions as a precedent?

David

@Detlev,

I am not a constitutional lawyer, but I fear that you may be right. That's why I like the idea of a "pre-emptive pardon" since it confirms that the Bush administration acted illegally.

Detlef

David,

"That's why I like the idea of a "pre-emptive pardon" since it confirms that the Bush administration acted illegally."

As a non-US citizen (German) I´m absolutely against that idea. In my mind it just seems to enforce two ideas:

1) A US President and his administration won´t get prosecuted regardless of what they do.

2) You, the USA, will protect your administration officials regardless of what they do.

Both points probably seem the same to you. :)

But in my mind point 1) is a domestic US argument. Regarding FISA, Habeas Corpus and the Geneva Conventions inside the USA. Everything the Bush administration did to its own citizens while violating US laws.

Point 2) is how Americans regard international law. As in foreign relations. Unfortunately it seems obvious that the current Bush administration, the new Obama administration and Congress seem happy to disregard international law if it seems to constrain the USA. Kind of like "might makes right"?

I´d be happy to be proven wrong. But if the US doesn´t prosecute the Bush administration for domestic law violations, it´s even less likely they´ll prosecute them for international law violations.

Just read Glenn Greenwald.

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/12/31/torture/

"While fiercely loyal establishment spokespeople such as The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus continue to insist that prosecutions are only appropriate for common criminals ("someone breaking into your house") but not our glorious political leaders when they break the law (by, say, systematically torturing people), the Bush administration has righteously decided that torture is such a grotesque and intolerable crime that political leaders who order it simply must be punished in American courts to the fullest extent of the law . . . . if they're from Liberia:"

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/01/08/nuremberg/index.html

"Still, it's striking to see someone so explicitly repudiate one of the defining Nuremberg principles, which subsequently became the cornerstone of international law, by arguing that intelligence officials who tortured people should have the Leader immediately bestow full immunity on them. Why? Not because what they did was legal or justified, but because "these people did what they did under orders and with patriotism." As Salon notes today, human rights groups have documented that close to 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody (.pdf) as part of the "war on terror," while "at least three dozen people believed to have been held in secret remain unaccounted for, their fate and whereabouts unknown." Yet "following orders" and "did-it-with-patriotism" are sufficient to render them immune."

hattie

I think they should be tried and if prosecuted sentenced to prison terms for their actions. I don't favor the death penalty.
Oh, I'm just a dreamer. "Justice" being what it is.

microgod

A pre-emptive pardon would NOT confirm that the Bush administration acted illegally, the opposite is correct. The American rightwing would dismiss this pardon as a shere political one without any relevance.

The administration lied to the public and moren than 3,000 Americans died in Iraq in an illegal war of aggression willingly based on faked evidence and massive propaganda.

Did the Vietnam War change anything? Did Watergate change anything? How can you believe a pre-emptive pardon is lesson enough for the next mad president?

David

Microgod,

Much as I would like to see Bush and his cronies in prison for their crimes, there is not the political will in this country for criminal prosecution. Furthermore, given the nature of the American legal system, any trial would soon devolve into farce, as Charles Fried points out in the NY Times:

"Of course ours would not be Stalin-type show trials, but they would have a kind of absurdity distinctive to our own over-lawyered culture. Consider what criminal prosecutions would really look like. First, we would have the investigations, the subpoenas, the depositions and grand juries, much of this directed at tripping up the targets, so that they can more handily be prosecuted for the ancillary offenses of making false statements, perjury or obstruction of justice.

Then, we would have the trials themselves — protracted, interspersed with motions and delays, obsessively followed by cable channels filling in the many dull spots with endless commentary from teams of so-called experts, the whole spectacle stupefying rather than edifying the public and doing little to enhance respect for the law. A feast for lawyers and legal junkies, criminal prosecutions would be an embarrassment and distraction for the rest of the society that wants to get on with solving the great problems of the present and the future."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/opinion/11fried.html

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