An independent report by the Constitution Project, a non-partisan Washington think tank, is the latest to confirm what is already known to the world — we ran a torture program approved by the highest levels of our government in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks. The report is an indictment not only of President Bush who is responsible for the torture program but President Obama who promised CIA officials that they would not be investigated or prosecuted for torture.
The report concluded that the Bush Administration embraced torture in an unprecedented way. While there is brutality in our history, the report determines, “there is no evidence there had ever before been the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after September 11, directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.”
Of course, the same extreme voices from the Bush Administration were quick to condemn the report like former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, John Bolton, who called the report “completely divorced from reality.” Bolton insisted that the procedures were “lawyered, and lawyered again, and lawyered again.” That is three lawyers and would include John Yoo, Steven G. Bradbury, and Jay Bybee — three discredited lawyers who many felt should have been criminally charged or subject to disbarment. Instead, while the Justice Department rejected their legal findings as fundamentally flawed and substandard, they were not personally disciplined. Bush officials continue to cite the facially illegitimate analysis of these hand-picked lawyers as excusing them of torture.
Since the Obama Administration has shielded these officials of prosecution (prosecutions that would have been politically costly to President Obama), these officials can continue to claim that they were not responsible for torture or that torture never occurred. Indeed, Yoo is back teaching law students while Bybee is passing judgment on others as a federal judge.
We are obligated to investigate and prosecute torture under treaty and international law. President Obama simply did what countless of other leaders have done in history: rather than make the difficult decision to comply with our obligations and the rule of law, Obama insisted that such enforcement would be too costly or divisive for the nation. It is a position that will be played back over and over to this country as we call for officials in other countries to be prosecuted for torture.
Source: Washington Post