Monday, July 21, 2008

Guests of the nation

Antonio Taguba, a retired US Army major general who was in charge of investigating whether detainees were mistreated by our military, recently said that "there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes." That a two-star general would offer an open pronouncement such as this should be a wake-up call to all of us, as well as one of the biggest news stories of the year.

One former administration official has publicly recommended that some high-ranking officials -- those implicated in the flawed and illegal process that decided that the Geneva Conventions were obsolete and that torture was a good idea -- would be wise to not travel out of the country, as they may be arrested and tried before a foreign court or international tribunal.

A new book by New Yorker writer Jane Mayer is titled The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, and it is generating quite a buzz. I haven't read it, but I did hear Mayer on NPR last week and I watched her on C-SPAN this evening. Part of what she writes about are the Bush Administration officials who risked their careers with unsuccessful attempts to undo a policy on torture that they clearly saw as illegal and immoral. New York Times columnist Frank Rich says that the book "connects the dots ... to portray a White House that ... savaged its enemies within almost as ferociously as it did the Constitution."

McClatchy newspapers has a lengthy series online that describes some of the treatment prisoners received at Guantanamo Bay and concludes that the actions of the US have "turned the prison ... into a school for jihad."

New York Times
columnist Nicholas Kristof has called for a "Truth Commission, with subpoena power, to investigate the abuses in the aftermath of 9/11." Kristof adds that, "many of the people we tortured were innocent: the administration was as incompetent as it was immoral," and he notes that, "Thomas White, the former Army secretary, [said] that it was clear from the moment Guantanamo opened that one-third of the inmates didn’t belong there."

Will our nation demand that individuals be held accountable?

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