Thursday, May 08, 2008

Of bad apples and smoking guns

The trail of bad apples always leads back to the Torture President:
Make no mistake, the bad apples are not completely innocent of wrongdoing, but they are not the ones truly responsible. We have punished many of them for taking pictures of abuse and have never punished the people who ordered and were responsible for the abuse.

While I was working on Standard Operating Procedure, many people asked about "the smoking gun." "Have you found the smoking gun? Have you found the smoking gun? -- presumably linking the abuses to the upper levels of the Defense Department and to the White House?" The question puzzles me. There are smoking guns everywhere but people don't see them, refuse to see them or pretend they don't exist. How many torture memos does an administration have to promulgate before the public gets the idea they are promulgating torture? Bush has recently admitted that he was present at these meetings and approved "harsh interrogation techniques." And yet this has scarcely been a news story. Well-documented attempts to subvert the Constitution, abrogation of the Geneva Conventions and simple human decency. What does it take?

We are surrounded by smoking guns on all sides. Crimes have been committed; we have ample evidence of them. But there can be no justice if there is a failure to stand up for it, if we fail to demand it. Here's the flip side of the torture memos. John Yoo can argue that the President can do anything. Let him do what he pleases, but does that mean he can't be held responsible for the things he has ordered or the things done in his name?

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