Many of us have been alarmed by the obvious effort of the Obama staff to avoid any investigation of confirmed war crimes by the Bush Administration in the torture program. Obama and Attorney General nominee Eric Holder have been suggesting that a war crime investigation would be “uncivil” and “looking backwards.” It has not gone over well since torture is a crime under eight treaties and statutes. Now, General Michael V. Hayden claims that Obama secretly promised him that there would be no war crimes investigation or prosecution in a meeting in Chicago.
Hayden’s role in this growing controversy is particularly distressing for civil libertarians. Not only does it confirm signals coming from the Obama camp since the election, but Hayden has been a particularly dark figure in the unlawful surveillance and torture programs, including statements that have been criticized as knowingly misleading or outright false.
Hayden had a closed door meeting with Obama last month in Chicago. He said Obama made it clear that the Bush Administration and CIA staff have nothing to worry about. “He’s looking forward,” Hayden said, “and that’s very appropriate.” If true, it would be confirmation of a bait-and-switch by the democrats. For years, the Democrats insisted that they could not act on torture until they controlled Congress. Once they were given both houses of Congress, Democrats insisted that they could not do anything without control of the White House. When they won the White House, the Democrats insisted that there was not enough time before Inauguration. Now, they are insisting that they must “look to the future: and notably not to the war crimes in the immediate past.
Democrats believe that they have nothing to gain personally and politically from prosecuting war crimes. They have been trying to sell people on yet another meaningless commission as a substitute for prosecution.
Not surprisingly, Obama aides are denying the story, here.
Of course, there is a very easy way to dispel any such rumors. Obama simply needs to say that any war crimes will be investigated and, if evidence if found of such crimes, prosecuted. That is what it means when Obama and Holder repeatedly say “no one is above the law.” The fact that they have struggled to simply commit themselves to enforce the law is highly worrisome and only serves to confirm the Hayden story.
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