April 2008: BBC's Newsnight interviews US Judge Advocate Diane Beaver about the Bush administration's legallese cover-story for war crimes. I truly
February 9, 2009

April 2008: BBC's Newsnight interviews US Judge Advocate Diane Beaver about the Bush administration's legallese cover-story for war crimes.

I truly loathe the notion of torturers and those who ordered torture getting away with it.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, called for the commission as way to heal what he called sharp political divides and to prevent future abuses.

He compared it to other truth commissions, such as one in South Africa that investigated the apartheid era.

"We need to come to a shared understanding of the failures of the recent past," Leahy said in a speech to the Georgetown University law school.

"Rather than vengeance, we need a fair-minded pursuit of what actually happened," he said. "And we do that to make sure it never happens again," Leahy said.

I'm unclear on how just saying "now we know" will stop any of it happening again. Trials and prison sentences would surely accomplish far more as a deterrent to possible future copycats - that's partly why we don't just slap the wrists of abusers or rapists and say "we know what you did!"

Leahy said he had not yet begun to promote the idea with the administration of President Barack Obama or with the Democratically controlled Congress. But he suggested it could be formed by both Congress and the White House, and said the panel must have credibility across the political spectrum.

Issues to investigate would include the Justice Department's firings of several U.S. attorneys, which Leahy said may have been motivated by a White House aim to influence elections, policies on the treatment of terrorism suspects and other areas "where (congressional) committees were lied to."

This included the war in Iraq, he said. "There were lies told to the American people all the way through."

Screw bipartisanship and "credibility across the political spectrum". When one party's senior leadership for eight years has deliberately broken international and US laws while their supporters make excuses for them, they should be treated as having given up any right to respect or to having a voice in how their crimes are handled. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party's leadership seems divided into two camps. One cannot shake off its fear of the GOP's noise machine and its fear of losing elections to do what is right. The other apparently has no intention of looking too hard into crimes they might want to commit themselves.

I firmly believe America can handle the truth - my experience as an ex-pat living here is that Americans are mainly good and just and I believe that if all the secrets are revealed in courts of law then Americans will be outraged and demand justice - but its political leadership either cannot or will not.

Crossposted from Newshoggers

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