According to the Associated Press:
“A nonpartisan commission’s review of the country’s anti-terrorism response after the 9/11 attacks reported Tuesday that it is “indisputable” the United States engaged in the practice of torture and the Bush Administration bears responsibility.”
The Constitution Project’s findings are the result of an exhaustive two year review of evidence available in the public record. The AP reports: “the investigation was conducted by a bi-partisan task force that came from a broad range of ideological perspectives and professions. It includes both former Republican and Democratic policymakers and members of Congress, retired generals, judges, lawyers and academics.”
You may recall that the Bush Administration went to great lengths to justify the CIA’s use of what they shamefully referred to as “enhanced interrogation” techniques in the questioning of prisoners. Jack Yoo of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel penned a great piece of fiction that became the legal cornerstone for President Bush’s authorization of what we have always known to be torture.
The Constitution Project acknowledges that brutality has occurred in war before.
“But there is no evidence that there had ever before been the kind of consideration and detailed discussions that occurred after September 11, directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.”
Defenders of the Bush Administration have challenged similar findings in the past and they will no doubt do the same here. They will say that if these “enhanced interrogation techniques” saved one American life they were worth it. They will call the president’s critics, weak, unpatriotic and hypocrites: “It’s ok to kick down doors and kill people; but they get all squeamish if we hold a guy’s head underwater too long.”
According to the Geneva Convention, in times of war kicking down doors and killing enemy combatants is legal…water boarding detainees is not.
We claim to be a nation of laws. Are we? It seems that we tend to bend and break them to suit our needs.
The nonpartisan Constitution Project doesn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know. It says that we tortured detainees in violation of international law at the direction of the President of the United States. Bush supporters can spout all manner of justification. But the facts are that the United States of America committed war crimes.
Nothing will come of this. President Obama has already stated that he will not pursue the matter. Dick Cheney will continue to bloviate about his place in history.
And the country will be all the worse for it.