I’ve been outspoken in my concern about the education policies of President Obama, who I supported and voted for. I am not alone in pointing out that President Obama is continuing the misguided education policies of the Bush administration. This saddens me, but seems par for the course.
However, when the former Harvard Law Review editor and professor of constitutional law has proof that his predecessor’s administration violated our nation’s law by torturing prisoners and illegally wiretapping citizens and chooses to do nothing, I am deeply alarmed.
The fact that CIA employees tortured humans illegally with the written consent of senior Bush administration officials, including a sitting federal judge, is not a mere act of political name-calling. The facts are not in dispute. President Obama released the written memos today. Former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage acknowledged knowledge of the torture program and did nothing. Former Vice President Cheney has come close to bragging about supervising the lawbreaking.
I realize that the country/world is in a mess and that the President has an ambitious schedule he needs to pass without Republican congressional support. I appreciate that Fox News and other white supremacists are whipping up hysterical crowds of racists while the Governors of Texas and Alaska openly speak of secession. These are dangerous times and the President’s plate is quite full.
However, refusal to prosecute those who broke our laws and undermined our constitutional principles – especially for war crimes – is not “retribution” as the President suggests. It is the right thing to do. It is the law. It is his moral and constitutional obligation to seek justice.
Political unpopularity is not an excuse for obstruction of justice. Inaction out of fear of offending the CIA scares the snot out of me. The military, Department of Justice and intelligence community serve the elected civilian President, not the other way around.
You may download and read the recently “top-secret” torture memos here.
Keith Olbermann’s special comment this evening, makes this case eloquently.
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is the author of Twenty Things to Do with a Computer – Forward 50, co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.
6 thoughts on “President Obama Must Pursue Justice”
These past actions both anger and sadden me as well. I agree action should be taken so those responsible for these atrocities can be held accountable. I share the view that inaction on this issue seems to be in line with other misguided policy decisions, however, and I doubt we’ll see any prosecutions. It is atrocious so many US citizens stood by when leaders made these decisions and carried out these policies, knowing full well this support of torture was both immoral and illegal. I find it hard to believe ostensibly moral people can wrap themselves in a flag and literally justify the torture of other human beings. President Bush and others in his administration who were responsible for these policies did incalculable harm to the international image, prestige, and potential moral authority of the United States internationally through these actions. It will take decades to heal these wounds and scars, if indeed they can ever be fully healed. I doubt they can be.
It is a complex issue with many sides — and I am not speaking of the immoral and destructive actions perpetrated by immoral and compassionless individuals. I refer, instead, to what should be done about it. What was especially insidious about most of the last eight years is that they made this nation an accomplice through the unbridled and shameful use of fear.
The question, however, is what good will prosecution serve. Will it help to reconcile our own souls. I think not. We cannot forgive ourselves. Will it serve our good and the good of our nation to expose, accuse, and convict these shameful, immoral, and illegal acts. I am not sure, especially given the many other troubles that the last administration left this nation and world with — which demand so much attention — right now.
All of that said, I have to ask, “Would it help to heal the ‘..incalculable harm to the international image, prestige, and potential moral authority of the United States..'” If there is a chance that publicly recognizing the immorality of these acts, exposing and prosecuting them — and acknowledging our own complicity — would set this country back on the path to the example we could be, then that is enough reason to do it — prosecute — regardless of the cost.
This has probably been the most shameful chapter in U.S. history, and it should not merely be swept away and forgotten.
I know this won’t make me popular, but let’s get serious. Did you read the whole thing? First, the first few items used to be done by teachers to students in corporal punishment days. Grunts in the marines go through worse in the rest of them other than Waterboarding. As for waterboarding, it so monitored and actually safe when all is said and done. It just scares the person. And who was this done to? 1000s of innocents rounded up for no reason? No, just one bad guy and maybe a few others with information that could have saved 100s if not 1000s of lives. So, save a 1000 lives just for putting a caterpillar in the box of a known, evil terrorist. Come on. The most shameful chapter in US history, that’s hyperbolic. What the Weathermen did the 1960s was worse. Slavery was worse. Native American treatment was worse. Waco was worse.
What the Bush Administration (at least the civilian “leaders”) always failed to appreciate about their violations of the Geneva Convention was the terrible impact the torture of prisoners would have on our own service men and women.
Back in my 20’s I commanded an artillery battery stationed in Germany and I always looked forward to the classes I gave my troops on the Geneva Convention and how we were expected–actually required–to treat prisoners. My troops always had the same question: “Why would we protect our enemies in such a way? How could we take a prisoner who just a short while earlier was trying to kill us, and then apply a set of rules on how they were to be treated?”
The answer was always the same. The Geneva Convention was meant to protect US as much as it was intended to protect them. By signing on and following these rules we as nations agreed not to mistreat and abuse one another when we were defenseless. If we were the ones who had been captured, we would be afforded the same protection that we extend to our prisoners. Finally, I always made the point that the Geneva Convention had been codified by US law–the same law that these extensive memos attempted to slime their way around.
The United States is supposedly a nation of laws and not men. By intentionally directing members of our nation’s services to skirt and violate these laws members of the Bush Administration–primarily Dick Cheney and his sycophants–clearly not only broke the law but put our own service men and women at greater risk. Justify, obfuscate, and slime your way around it all you want, the facts are the facts, and if we are indeed a nation of laws then those who broke the law need to be brought to justice and prosecuted.
I understand the President’s rationale in not seeking to prosecute these men who authorized criminal acts, but I cannot believe that we as a nation will be better off by letting them off the hook. As Olberman so eloquently stated, drawing a line and putting things behind us rarely has the intended consequence. We must not only shine a light on the misdeeds but bring these matters into court so that our laws have some real meaning, and so we can show the rest of the world that in America when we determine by legislation the limits to what our leaders can do we mean it, and that no matter what the position our leaders are in they must follow our laws just as our citizens are required to do.
Should we let all murderers go free, because it’s inconvenient to let justice take it’s course? Should we all feel we can commit illegal acts with impunity now because our own leaders are allowed to? WHERE is the JUSTICE in this country? It’s been bought and paid for, apparently, by the corporations and CIA running this country, instead of the President and an Honest Congress. Honest Congress? That’s an oxymoron if I ever saw one. Disgusting is this BAD decision by President Obama and his keepers. Bad, bad, bad. I’m thoroughly disappointed in President Obama, and I voted for him. Grow some cajones and get these idiots away from the controls of this country!
Is #11 on this list sawing off someone’s head with a hacksaw while he is alive and conscious?
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