Tortured Logic

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

Recent reports that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is considering appointing a prosecutor to investigate illegal torture carried out during the Bush administration is a positive sign, especially given President Obama's desire to avoid what he has called "a backward-looking" inquiry. When Holder began studying the brutal acts carried out in America's name, some of them even exceeding the horrors authorized in the infamous Justice Department torture memos, he reportedly said it "turned my stomach." In "Tortured Logic," a video released by the ACLU today, you'll hear well-known people like Oliver Stone, Rosie Perez and Philip Glass, among others, read from those chilling memos, which were disclosed as part of ACLU litigation:

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While it is encouraging that Holder now understands that there were serious crimes committed that demand investigation, press reports say that he envisions an investigation narrow in scope that would focus only on low-level interrogators and contract employees. This is deeply troubling.

There is ample evidence already in the public domain that the widespread and systemic torture of detainees was authorized at the highest levels of the Bush administration. This evidence comes from congressional reports, the torture memos themselves and even the boastful admissions of officials including former vice president Dick Cheney, who has been aggressively forthright in his defense of waterboarding. But notwithstanding all this evidence, there are still those who would reduce the authorization of these crimes by government officials to discretionary policy decisions. This cannot be the case in a nation where the rule of law means anything.

It is a core premise of our democracy that in America, no one is above the law, regardless of rank or position. Going after those who carried out illegal orders while shielding those who actually gave the orders goes against the most fundamental American ideals of fairness. To date, the highest-ranking officer to be prosecuted for detainee abuse is a lieutenant colonel who was acquitted. Yet there is simply too much evidence of high-level orders to justify limiting criminal investigations to the field. In this country, we investigate crimes — no matter how powerful the suspected perpetrators — and, when appropriate, we prosecute those who broke the law. The American system of justice would be rendered meaningless if we were to start compromising our principles and laws simply because enforcing them might be politically messy, inconvenient or even painful.

We cannot move forward confidently knowing that the abuses of the past will not be repeated by future administrations as long as everyone knows that crimes were committed and that the powerful who perpetrated and enabled those crimes get off scot-free. A failure to prosecute those responsible for torture — those who authorized it, those who legally sanctioned it and those who carried it out — would essentially serve to ratify illegal behavior by government officials. The attorney general should appoint a special prosecutor who will follow the facts where they lead, whether it be to prisons overseas or to the halls of power at home.

Visit www.aclu.org/torturedlogic to share the video with a friend and to send it to Attorney General Holder with a note urging him to conduct a full investigation of torture under the Bush administration.

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Maggie

I believe you have a more current and pressing issue than this. You are worried about American Ideals of fairness?

The Obama Administration has just issued from the White House any one who is opposed to Health Care Reform and sending any emails is to be reported to the White House! I would think that this is against the law. Against the first admendment! But I guess Holder will not be reviewing this because it involves his boss. And now he is looking into these crimes, I wonder why now?

If the ACLU is interested in American fairness you need to start at home. Becaused if not stopped it won't matter wether these were serious crimes or not.

Alvin McCuistion

Your thesis is surely correct; we must look at these crimes. Right now, the statements that 1)this is a nation devoted to the rule of law and 2)no one is above the law are not true. But, by looking at past misdeeds, we can restore our dedication to these principles.

Mary Crockett

Please update your knowledge of torture of USA CITIZENS WITH ELECTROMAGNETIC ENERGY WEAPONS. Over 5000 documented cases have been collected and sent to Judge Claude Bridel of Switzerland. Please email ffchs for your copy...these are all cases of people living in their own USA homes being electromagnetically tortured...many are beginning to die. The situation is being compared to the JEWISH HOLOCAUST. For your own copy, email mary.cockett54@gmail.com or ffchs website. mary.crockett54@gmail.com

Debi

I am a straight white female, with children...I paid for my own schooling, I studied and worked rotating shifts. I have never received any assistance from the government. I forgot to mention, I have a special needs child who must be supervised at all times, because the pedifiles YOU defend could take advantage of her. What can the ACLU do for me....nothing!!!!

Why don't you spend your time working for the good of the people who have worked hard their whole lives? How stupid can you be?

James Norden

Just wondering when you will condemn the Obama administration for asking US citizens to spy on their fellow citizens? "Naming names" is what you might call it. The White House is not legally allowed to have this information, why has the ACLU not IMMEDIATELY condemned this criminal act by the President?

Hypocrisy, much?

James Norden

Hello,

Please address the Obama Adminstration's new domestic spying program.

Craig

I'm sure we can count on the ACLU to protect those citizens attempting to voice their opinions at town hall meetings. As union officials and ACORN representatives attempt to thwart the opportunity of common citizens to address their elected officials over policies, I hope the ACLU continues their march towards free speech for all citizens...not just those who follow a certain political party. If the ACLU truly believes in their mission, it would be refreshing to see them take action to make sure the rights of independent thinking American citizens can be heard by THEIR elected officials. For those of us who deserve to have our voices heard as well, feel free to file lawsuits on behalf of conservatives who simply desire a free country where diversity is accepted and embraced. I believe this organization has spoken using these same terms in the past. Tell me it still applies if the Presidency is occupied by a representative from the Democratic Party.

Our nation deserves the opportunity for people to speak freely and openly without the threat of violence or retribution. The ACLU has fought for this for years so America needs this organization to continue the fight. I don't see where your mission statement affiliates you with any political party so take the initiative to restore credibility for your cause. American people need you to step up and challenge the authorities that are attempting to defeat liberty and freedom for all of our citizens.

roald

Maggie - We may have more current issues, but we have the bandwidth to deal with multiple problems at the same time. The only way we can begin to recover our senses and the respect of the rest of the world is to come clean. This worked for other governments who tortured in the past.

The request from the White House is to identify and correct the lies being spread about health care reform, not to identify and punish the senders. There is no freedom of speech issue. If there were, the ACLU would be all over it.

Paen

In Stalin's time it was considered necessary to liquadate many of the torturers because they became monsters who loved to inflict pain too much.I wonder what Obama will do with his.

Richard

The torture, used to gain information to protect Americans, has nothing to do with "American Civil Liberties".
If the mild torture saves American lives, then so be it. Wake up, drop your facade; this is reality, not a fantasy. They are enemies of the American people, are extremely dangerous, and are receiving the treatment they deserve.

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