Friday, April 10, 2009

Good news and bad news

Both from CIA to close secret overseas prisons, end security contracts by Jonathan Landay, McClatchy Newspapers 04/09/09. The good news:

The CIA is decommissioning the secret overseas prisons where top al Qaida suspects were subjected to interrogation methods, including simulated drowning, that Attorney General Eric Holder, allied governments, the Red Cross and numerous other experts consider torture, the agency said Thursday.

In an e-mail to the agency's work force outlining current interrogation and detention policies, CIA Director Leon Panetta also announced that agreements with the private security firms guarding the so-called black sites will be "promptly terminated," and contractors no longer will be used to conduct interrogations.
The bad news:

Panetta, however, said that CIA officers who were involved in interrogations using "enhanced" methods authorized by the Justice Department during the Bush administration "should not be investigated, let alone punished."
Not even investigated? This is a terrible idea. I hope the Justice Department does the right thing, the thing that in my understanding the law requires them to do, which is to investigate and prosecute everyone involved in the torture program.


I just don't buy the notion that "lower-level" perpetrators should get a free pass. Absolutely, the authors of managers of the policy, from senior civilian officials to any of our infallible generals who acted illegally, should be prosecuted according to the law. And sent to do serious prison time if convicted.

But the people that administered the torture hands-on, the military officers who allowed it to occur under their commands and the soldiers who participated, the doctors and other health-care personal that violated their ethical obligations in the most basic way by participating in torture: they all should be prosecuted. If you need to give lower-level perps deals for reduced sentences or whatever to get testimony against higher-ups, fine. But why should anyone participating in this thing get off free? There is no good reason. It's just protecting criminals from the legal responsibility for their crimes.

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