I am getting tired of Democratic and Republican politicians, and the mass media abandoning the rule of law (Glenn Greenwald is all over this). The top officials of the Bush administration committed serious crimes. Among other things, they met in the White House and approved torture that resulted in the deaths of at least 108 detainees [the manner of death for some of these people is disputed, see comments]. Federal law provides for the death penalty for torturers and torture conspirators when their victims die.
Politicians and popular media figures twist and turn trying to avoid using the word “torture” (and sometimes forget to lie). But there are a few voices speaking with integrity.
Major General Antonio Taguba, whose 2004 investigation documented chilling abuses at Abu Ghraib, is the most senior official to have accused the administration of war crimes. His findings are cited extensively in the Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture (PDF) that was released in unclassified form this week.
General Taguba is now retired, but he wrote the preface to Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact, a new report by Physicians for Human Rights (emphasis added):
After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.
Indeed, we have known something about the Bush administration’s illegal torture regime at least since this 2002 Washington Post article by Dana Priest and Barton Gellman.
Today, we learned that the American Civil Liberties Union has obtained the release of 2,000 new torture photos from the Pentagon. The photos, to be made public on May 28, show detainees being tortured at Guantanamo Bay and other military detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
UPDATE: Arianna Huffington writes:
This is a defining moment for America.
The way we respond — or fail to respond — to the revelations about the Bush administration’s use of torture will delineate — for ourselves and for the world — the kind of country we are.
It is a test of our courage and our convictions. A test of whether we are indeed a nation of laws — or a nation that pays lip service to the notion of being a nation of laws.