General Question

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

If the President believes that waterboarding is torture, why are we not prosecuting those who authorized torture?

Asked by SquirrelEStuff (9168points) April 29th, 2009
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

31 Answers

MrKnowItAll's avatar

That may well yet happen. Remember: You only get one bite of the apple. Better a careful prosecution than a hasty one.

YARNLADY's avatar

It remains to be seen. Sometimes the consequences take place out of the public spotlight.

wundayatta's avatar

As others have said, it may well happen. And if it doesn’t happen here, they may well be indicted by courts in other nations; in particular, Spain.

FGS's avatar

Because the 4th amendment protects them. You can’t can’t prosecute someone if the man in charge changes the rules…

rooeytoo's avatar

You get court martialed if you don’t obey orders, did they have a choice? And if they elicited information that would helped to catch the murderers who were responsible for 9/11 then I guess it is one of those deals where if you don’t want to do the time then don’t do the crime.

There was a recent question regarding upgrading airline seats for military and the fluther consensus was in favor of it, these are the same people, just doing their job.

wundayatta's avatar

I think you can get courtmartials for refusing orders, but can’t you also get off if the orders are illegal? In fact, don’t you have a duty to refuse illegal orders, and if you do follow them, you will get court martialed for that?

YARNLADY's avatar

There is a rule for not following illegal orders in the military, but I don’t feel like looking it up right now. You could probably find it if you want to.

upholstry's avatar

Obama wants to keep the CIA and military on his side so he can get things done. If he opens up CIA & military officials to the possibility of prosecution, they aren’t going to work with him.

I believe this is why he’s being so careful about releasing classified information related to these matters.

filmfann's avatar

He should lay off the military, and go after those who directed them to torture.
I can’t wait to see Cheney try to deny he has to testify before Congress.

DREW_R's avatar

There is a thing where you are supposedly required to not follow an illegal order or you are just as liable as the one that issued those orders I believe.

rooeytoo's avatar

@daloon and yarnlady – Maybe you both would but If I were a 19 year old private I don’t know that I would stand and debate the legality of an ordered issued by my commanding officer unless I had my attorney present and knew for sure I wasn’t going to end up in the same jail.

DREW_R's avatar

Obama believes it was a nessacary evil? Wouldn’t actually surprise me.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I always loved waterboarding.. you’re all mad…
What’s that? What do you mean booge boarding is not the same? My bad. Shutting up.

But seriously.. yes.. in the military we are instructed to obey lawful orders of those appointed over us.

Triiiple's avatar

Because they are most likely white.

cwilbur's avatar

Because Obama saw what happened with the Clinton impeachment debacle, and how stupid partisan politics can blow things out of proportion. No matter what he does, some wingnut is going to claim that the only reason he’s doing this is because he wants to persecute Republicans. And so it’s in his best political interest to make sure that before he initiates any sort of prosecution, he has all his ducks in a row so that he can get a conviction.

The torture is no longer going on, and so it really doesn’t matter whether any prosecutions happen immediately or a year from now. If spending a year uncovering evidence means that a conviction is more likely, or that it will be an actual trial rather than a farce in Congress, I’m all for waiting a year.

dynamicduo's avatar

It would make America look especially weak, and it would lose face.
Also, what @cwilbur says.

filmfann's avatar

So, if the Nazi’s admitted killing Jews, they would look weak?

wundayatta's avatar

@rooeytoo: I was 19 during or right after the end of the Vietnam war. If the draft hadn’t ended the year I turned 18, and I had been drafted, I would have gone off the Canada. I knew that war was wrong from the time I was ten or twelve. I certainly had the moral capacity to know what was moral or not by the time I was 16.

Granted, I had more educational advantages than most people, and I happened to have a father who was a professor at a local university. So I was brought up to question things. Many children are not brought up in such a way, and might reach the age of nineteen thinking they had no right to think for themselves. However, it is possible, and I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect people at that age to include a sense of morality in their decisions. If you can’t see how torture is wrong, at any age, then you must be…., a sociopath? I don’t know. A lot of Nazis said they were only doing what they were told, and they got prosecuted and convicted anyway.

A culture of oppression becomes quickly considered the norm. How? How does it become possible for a whole nation to be ok with killing Jews? Or Tutsis or Hutu? Or whatever other genocidal situation there has been? How does a secret unit within a government decide that it is ok to torture people, even when the best practice says that other techniques are more effective and get more reliable information?

Something must get in people’s heads, and they lose their sense of morality, and they start to see other humans as less than human, and so, it is ok to torture them or kill them. Perhaps it is even necessary to see others as less than human in order to kill them? So what training techniques get people to see certain other people as less than human?

cwilbur's avatar

Also, it occurred to me in the shower this morning—Obama is very shrewd, and understands how people think. If he released the memos and announced a prosecution right away, there would be a huge backlash, because the country at large would not have had time to absorb the information. So he released the memos, and there’s more information forthcoming. And now he’s said that waterboarding is in fact torture.

So a lot of people are asking the same question that started this thread, and a lot of people across the political spectrum are making arguments on both sides of the issue. Eventually, there will be something of a consensus, or more likely two camps, each having attained a consensus on the matter, and at that point he can act.

It’s far better for Obama to let the body politic wrangle this out, especially if he thinks it will come to the same conclusion, than to force the issue. It’s out in the open now, and there’s no more torture going on, and we have a President who says that torture is not compatible with American values. So far, he’s doing the right thing, and I’d rather have him continue to do the right things than to expend political capital on getting something done right now that doesn’t need to be resolved immediately.

fireside's avatar

@cwilbur – agreed. He alluded, last night, to the enormity of what was on his plate and I don’t see how any of it would be made any easier by spearheading a divisive campaign against the old regime.

benjaminlevi's avatar

There shouldn’t be an argument over this. What they did was blatantly illegal and for a free society to function one has to be held accountable for their actions. If society thinks its acceptable for their leaders to break laws should we just look the other way? It sets a dangerous precedent if those we elect get legal immunity.

rooeytoo's avatar

@daloon – I can only speak for myself and I guess I just am not as morally or intellectually elevated as you describe yourself to be. When I was 19, had I been in that situation and had just been brain washed in basic training to obey my commander in chief, I simply would have been too much of a coward to argue and question legality.
Especially when 3 good friends and a cousin had just been killed at the WTC.

I don’t know if running to Canada makes you a smart guy or a coward.

I was opposed to Vietnam also, was gassed many times during marches in DC, saw Key Bridge lined with soldiers with bayonets. I never had a problem with the soldiers who went though, they did what they were ordered to do. I guess they were either too dumb or too brave or too patriotic to hide in Canada.

I think war is inhumane and it makes people go a little off their heads and do bad things.

I think it is easy to sit in front of a computer in a living room, safe and secure, to judge and say what others should have done.

filmfann's avatar

@cwilbur Did all these words come to you in the shower? I deleted the filler words.
he released huge backlash,absorb released forthcoming spectrum both sides attained a consensus
the body politic wrangle this out,force rather have him continue expend

wundayatta's avatar

@rooeytoo, like I said, I had some advantages. Although, I’m sure other people would call them disadvantages. Still, I was thinking about ethics and morals and philosophical issues for years by the time I got out of high school.

It’s a mistake to assume others think the way you do, but I make that mistake all the time. Or, I used to.

I don’t know what would have happened had there been a draft when I was 18. I would have tried for conscientious objector status. Given that I was an atheist, that might not have gone so well. I might have gone to jail, I suppose. Or, knowing me, I probably would have chickened out about Canada, and gone into the army, and tried to avoid being posted to Vietnam.

I can’t imagine being decent army material. I’m sure I would have suffered greatly in basic training if I didn’t learn to keep my mouth shut. Maybe I would have tried to join the air force or the Navy.

In any case, I consider the use of force to be the ultimate failure of imagination. The smarter you are, the less you need it, I believe. I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t have gotten into trouble for those ideas, but by then, it was already too late. I was already a citizen of the world.

YARNLADY's avatar

@daloon Many people who were drafted into the military were released as “unfit for military service”. It sounds to me like you wouldn’t have even made it into boot camp. Many people who volunteer for today’s military are released under that category as well.

rooeytoo's avatar

@daloon – you said, “f the draft hadn’t ended the year I turned 18, and I had been drafted, I would have gone off the Canada.” Now you say differently.

The point is I don’t care. A question was asked, I gave my opinion. You took exception to me although others had similar replies.

Why don’t you just answer the question and give up on correcting me.

wundayatta's avatar

—@rooeytoo: oops. I think it sounded like I was addressing something specifically to you, when in fact, I was talking about myself. I do that too often. When I wrote, ”It’s a mistake to assume others think the way you do, but I make that mistake all the time,” I didn’t mean you were doing that. I really meant I was doing that.

I’m not claiming I’m good or moral. I’m just saying what I thought. I’m being honest about my thinking and the difference between brave thoughts and real actions. Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done. But I’m no better than the next guy. I’m not very brave, but I’m also not that cowardly.

I meant no offense to you. I wasn’t trying to “correct” you. I was just thinking out loud, and responding to you. I thought you raised some important points.

filmfann's avatar

Are you talking to me?

wundayatta's avatar

Why yes, @filmfann, I am talking to you. How did you know?

Why doesn’t he stay in the cinema instead of taking a risk on the sunlight? Grumble, grumble. Conceited little flic-flack!

Oops! Did I say that out loud??? I didn’t mean a word of it. Honest. Just a joke!

No really. It is a joke!


Garebo's avatar

Yeah, lets remove that billionaire speaker B from office, she clearly knew.

MeinTeil's avatar

Because thank god, at least for now, there’s more to truth than what the President believes.

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