Monday, August 31, 2009

Torture program prosecutions

Human rights attorney Scott Horton has been a leading advocate of pursuing legal action against torture perpetrators. He has written on this week's developments in One Small Step on the Torture Issue ACS blog 08/27/09 and Seven Points on the CIA Report No Comment blog 08/25/09, as well as in numerous other posts on his No Comment blog at Harper's.

Daphne Eviatar, a reporter who has been following the torture issue in a serious way, discusses what to me is an hopeful aspect of the current limited Department of Justice investigation into torture, which is that taking the law seriously in that inquiry could well lead the DOJ to pursue the torture crimes more broadly: CIA Report Suggests Broad Probe of Interrogation Policy Needed Washington Independent 08/25/09.

Peter Bergen in Cheney's Jihad Foreign Policy Online 08/26/09 looks at the Dark Lord's latest round of defense of the torture program.

Ray McGovern in Closing In on the Torturers 08/26/09 writes:

Positive news came with the announcement that Attorney General Eric Holder has broadened prosecutor John Durham’s mandate to include cases in which CIA interrogators and contractors may have violated U.S. torture laws and other statutes.

Durham has already spent over a year investigating the destruction of CIA videotapes of interrogations and thus is in position to jump-start the process of looking into related matters.
Stephen Walt, a stalwart of the Realist school of foreign policy theory, argues for enforcing the laws against against the Cheney-Bush torture program in On politics and the rule of law Foreign Policy Online 08/26/09:

Am I being -- shall we say, unrealistic -- to stress the rule of law as opposed to the naked exercise of political power? Hardly. Realists have a rather dim view of human nature, which is why we like legitimate, well-ordered governments in which laws and checks and balances exist to keep human frailties in check. The Founding Fathers had a lot of realist instincts, so they constructed a variety of essentially liberal institutions to try to address and contain our worst instincts. Domestic politics in a well-ordered society is a lot nicer than life in the international system, which conspicuously lacks strong institutions and where the rule of law is weak. And that's why we ought to defend the rule of law in this case (and others), and try hard to keep politics out of the discussion.
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