General Question

filmfann's avatar

Should the Bush team be prosecuted for approving torture?

Asked by filmfann (40262 points ) April 21st, 2009

President Bush said the US does not torture, then said we only waterboarded 3 people. Now, it turns out we waterboarded lots more. President Obama has given a pass to those who conducted the waterboarding, and other tortures, but has hinted that he might prosecute those that designed and approved the use of torture, including waterboarding.

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34 Answers

cwilbur's avatar

I think they should be. We are the United States; we are supposed to be the good guys.

On the other hand, I think a preemptive Presidential pardon, as Ford pardoned Nixon, would be just as damaging to their reputation and their legacy.

ragingloli's avatar

I think they all should be prosecuted.
I also think that the entire Bush administration should be prosecuted for war crimes and consciously violating international law. But that will most likely not happen because unfortunately, power protects from justice.

kenmc's avatar

To get Bushco for approving torture would be like getting Capone for tax evasion.

Yea, they did that, but you really want to get them for all the other shit they did.

AstroChuck's avatar

Fuck yeah!

Garebo's avatar

Hell no, even Obama knows that, congress is a completely a different outcome. Remember when Obama speaks, and what he does, are two differnet things.
Some think if we treat these people nice, people that want to kill our kids and rape our parents; we should just continue to wash their feet, and all will be ok. I just don’t think so.

aprilsimnel's avatar

They broke the law, and they should be tried. “Extralegal” dodges like black prisons and joints like Guantanamo don’t obfuscate that what happened was illegal.

asmonet's avatar

Mmyep.

lataylor's avatar

@Garebo – I agree with you. Prosecuting former leaders is what developing third world countried do.

Check this: http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/04/21/obama.memos/index.html

And since Obama released a select few classified documents, he should now release all the documents, including those showing the averted attackes, such as the Brooklyn bridge bombing, the lA attacks, teh London attacks, that were averted due to dropping water on rags over people’s mouths, forcing them to not sleep and listen to loud music, all things that some consider torture. Sounds like my medical residency to me, which is the system promoted by Medicare in order to provide cheap healthcare to the uninsured. Ridiculous.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

of course they should,
but i think the whole thing behind being president is that you get to do horrible, horrible things that would leave you with the death penalty if you didn’t have that handy ‘President’ scribbled behind your name.

LostInParadise's avatar

It would be so sweet. It might be the only thing that can wipe that smirk off of Bush’s face.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

No, we have to move on from that. The country has bigger problems to deal with. I think it was the right call for Obama to release the documents. The information was already public knowledge and making an acknowledgement of it – and a pledge to discontinue the policies – is a way to facilitate moving on. The people who supported Bush and his policies have already been soundly defeated. There is no political capital to be gained by dragging this out.

If you want to prosecute somebody, look at the assholes who were supposed to be minding the store when Wall Street and AIG were stealing the country blind. I would start with Chris Cox.

ubersiren's avatar

I think the Bush administration should be tried for all his crimes.

bea2345's avatar

What is happening now is because we have the Internet. When the British Empire was in full flower, did the ordinary citizen in the Home Country know, or even care, what was done in his name? Almost every former colony has some atrocity, some horror arising out of the contact of the Empire with “lesser breeds”, to quote Rudyard Kipling. Few perpetrators were prosecuted, let alone convicted.

We now can find out and know more. And I think knowledge makes us complicit, whether we are American or not. Forget about prosecuting the former administration. None is innocent: the Bush administration, Congress, the military et al. And what about those governments that gave consent and help? What the present administration should be doing, and probably is trying to do, is craft a foreign and defence policy that does not see the need for such antics as secret prisons and waterboarding.

Let sleeping dogs lie.

lataylor's avatar

Prosecuting a former administration for waterboarding and depriving combatants of sleep would be the most damaging act ever done towards our own government. It is a laughable idea.

This is all a big distraction. The current administration wants to keep Bush in focus, while the spending skyrockets, government grows to levels not seen in 60+ years, more control and restrictions are placed on Americanas and taxes raise slowly but surely in discrete ways. If Obama lets the sun set on Bush, then his radical policies will get more scrutiny and polling shows that his policies are not what mainstream America desires.

tabbycat's avatar

Tempting as it is at times, I agree with ichthy that we have to move on. Just think of the Clinton impeachment trial. Whatever you think of Clinton or of those who were intent on prosecuting him, it really took up the time of the government that should have been spent on more serious matters. Prosecuting the Bush administration would be an even bigger distraction.

Don’t we have enough on our plates, with the lousy economy and myriad foreign threats? We need to keep our eye on the ball, folks.

filmfann's avatar

Personally, I feel that, as a nation, we cannot move on until we have cleaned up the mess. We have to send a message to future generations that you cannot do whatever you want, just because you have attained great power.

ubersiren's avatar

@lataylor : It’s definitely a decoy fire while they set the real fire ablaze… but I still think Bush should be prosecuted. Then, after Obama finishes robbing us of all our money, we can try him too. I think the worst thing to do is give authorities the idea that they can continue to ass rape us.

Qingu's avatar

Before I read those memos, I didn’t think we should prosecute anyone. I thought we should just move past.

Now? Prosecute the fuckers and throw them in jail. All of them, up to Cheney and Bush, if we can convict them. What disgusting criminals.

The clincher for me was that we authorized waterboarding a guy 180 times in a month—while we were fishing for “evidence” tying Iraq to Al-Qaeda. Evidence that turned out to be nonexistent.

That’s a war crime. And comparing it to Clinton having oral sex with an intern is fucking insane.

filmfann's avatar

If I could give you lurve 5 times for that, I would.

ubersiren's avatar

@Qingu : Absolutely. 100%.

Qingu's avatar

@lataylor, you think waterboarding sounds like your medical residency?

http://waterboarding.org/how-to

There’s a website that shows you how to do it. Get some of your friends to help you out. Then tell us if it’s not torture.

And you argument that torture foiled plots is idiotic. Even if we did get actionable intelligence from torture (which is, according to the CIA, rare, as torture produces a lot of false information), how the hell does that imply that we only could have gotten that information from torture? I have trouble believing you’re actually stupid enough to believe this.

bea2345's avatar

This is not solely an American problem. If your government prosecutes, what happens to the evidence of the complicity of other governments? the UK and Egypt, to name two, come to mind. Or is it only American torturers that you have in mind? And then there is the question of reparations; that is usual in cases of abuse, isn’t it? They will be astronomical. This is one can of worms.

A much much better solution, although it will take longer, and cost much more in effort and goodwill, is to change the way America does business outside its borders. Make the commitment to human rights a real thing and not lip service to expediency. Put the torturers out of business by not doing business with them.

mattbrowne's avatar

If there’s a legal basis, yes.

mammal's avatar

Even Atheists want the Bush Administrition to all go to hell… Naked and screaming, in a cramped steel bath tub, floating and bobbing on lava streams toward their final destination

quarkquarkquark's avatar

Waterboarding is dubiously ethical and questionably effective. It is undoubtedly somewhat barbaric. But the administration claims that it has been of use, and any discussion of its morality must include mention of its intended facility.

It is one thing for low-level contractors and intelligence officers to be waterboarding innocent people for no reason in the same way that D.As sometimes put people in jail regardless of evidence of their innocence. This is a crime; this is a physical action that can be prosecuted. But the introduction of enhanced interrogation was intended to be a tool in the so-called War On Terror. It has been abused, certainly, and perhaps overused. But I don’t think approving it was a crime.

That said, further information may bring into the light notions of gross misconduct on the part of those administration members who forewent tamer and more reliable intelligence gathering methods and took the gloves off immediately. Waterboarding IS barbaric. But remember that prosecuting high-level former government officials is bound to have a detrimental effect on national morale, bipartisan cooperation, and the U.S.‘s global standing.

Qingu's avatar

@quarkquarkquark, I agree with you that the prosecutions are going to have a huge downside if they go forward.

I disagree that approving waterboarding and other forms of torture is morally or legally excusable. It is a violation of our own laws, and the Geneva Convention. We have prosecuted other armies for practicing it on our troops.

More importantly, there is no evidence whatsoever that torture is even effective in the first place. We’ve heard, with no evidence, that waterboarding Zubaydah 80+ times prevented an attack on the Brooklyn Bridge—furthermore, with no evidence that ordinary interrogation techniques could, or did, provide this information. Many CIA officials, as well as the director of the FBI, have said torture produces bad information. Conservatives like to talk about a “ticking time bomb” fantasy scenario where torture may be hypothetically necessary, but until someone shows that it’s even effective in the first place, it’s a moot point.

Yes, prosecuting Bush administration officials as war criminals may well tear this country apart. The alternative is letting war criminals get away with it, and the entire world will realize we have a double standard. I don’t know what the lesser of two evils is. Hopefully, enough Americans will stop being cowards, and realize these actions for the evil that they are, so that prosecution is more politically feasible.

bea2345's avatar

There is another point. The evidence gained by illegal means cannot be used in many jurisdictions, those of the US included. Was the original intention of the renditions, etc. to get the information, then quietly dispose of the prisoners? (It might be instructive to know if all persons in custody have been accounted for.) If that was the intention of the Bush administration, you are well rid of it.

But, as @Qingu says, prosecutions will probably tear your country apart (I think it will). What is done, and is probably being done right now, is make a lot of people wonder where their careers went. There must be quite a shake-up in the security services going on at this moment. If this cynicism is painful, think of the Nuremberg trials, the Tokyo trials, after WWII. For what it is worth, a similar shake up happened in my country after a commssion of enquiry into the drug trade. A number of people resigned or took early retirement from the security services, although there were no prosecutions arising from the enquiry.

mamabeverley's avatar

@bea2345 While it is true that evidence gained illegaly cannot be used, this is not always true as we know it. Thanks to the Patriot Act, the gov’t can pretty much gather evidence in anyway they see fit in order to “protect innocent citizens”. Wire tapping, checking your bank account, checking your grocery list and until recently torture. If enough “evidence” is found, you can be put in jail, denied representation, and held indefinetly as an enemy combatant. Then you end up on a not very well known, undocumented flight to an “allied country” to never be heard from again.

quarkquarkquark's avatar

@mamabeverley—To be perfectly fair, extraordinary rendition is not meant to be and has not to our knowledge been used on American citizens currently residing in the U.S.

mamabeverley's avatar

@quarkquarkquark Key Words “Has not to our Knowledge been used on U.S. Citizens” Do we REALLY know?? We only know what they tell us. I am afraid I have become very skeptical of the Gov’t. I know that we are at war so the rules of engagement have changed, but I also know, that our Gov’t has now admitted to doing things we hoped only other Govt’s did. Who really knows.

bea2345's avatar

@mamabeverley Patriot Act or not, one of the strengths of American jurisprudence is that anything, but anything, can be challenged. Wasn’t there a man who sued the agency for witness protection because his children disappeared along with his wife? (he won his case). If even Cambodia can have war crimes trials, what’s a few tort cases arising out of the activities of Home Security?

filmfann's avatar

It is impossible to prove without evidence, and insanely difficult to get evidence.

flutherother's avatar

If he could be prosecuted for stupidity I would be all for it. One of the reasons he gave for invading Iraq was the (non existent) link between Saddam’s regime and Al Qaeda. This priceless piece of ‘intelligence’ was forced out of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi under torture.

Torture should be outlawed not because it is useless in obtaining true intelligence but because it is an abomination in the sight of God and man.

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