May 2, 2009

Bill Moyer talks to Mark Danner and Bruce Fein on last night's Journal:

The President had a press conference on Wednesday night in which he was asked two questions about torture. If you'd been there, Mark, what would you have asked him?

[...] BRUCE FEIN: I would have asked him, since he's agreed that what was done was torture, and that the United States criminal code makes torture a crime. And there's no national security exception, no exception if you get useful information. And because we had impeached, in the House Judiciary Committee, a former President, called Richard Nixon, for failing faithfully to execute the laws. How he can justify not moving forward with an investigation when we have a former President and Vice President openly acknowledging they authorized water boarding, what he has described as torture, is a crime.

Or in the alternative, if he thinks that there are mitigating circumstances, and there's body language suggests that, then he should pardon them like Ford did Richard Nixon. And the reason why the difference between a pardon and non-prosecution is important, is because a pardon requires the recipient to acknowledge guilt. That there was wrongdoing. There was a crime. Just forgetting and sweeping it under the rug suggests this wasn't illegal.

BILL MOYERS: But he is clearly trying to move, as he says, beyond the past. He's closing Guantanamo. He doesn't countenance torture. He says it won't happen on his watch. I mean, shouldn't that settle the issue?

MARK DANNER: This is an issue that, as he has put it, divides the country. But because it divides the country, in my opinion, is one reason we have to confront it. The idea that this is about the past is simply wrong. It's not about the past. It's about our present politics.

Fein is exactly right. As long as we act as if a crime wasn't committed, we undermine the rule of law.

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