Friday, April 24, 2009

Wisdom from Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman concisely summarizes my own position on prosecutions of Bush administration officials. The price for ordering or enabling torture needs to be so unpalatable that no future administration official will dare to attempt it. That pretty much means criminal prosecutions, and, on guilty verdicts, lengthy prison sentences. There really is no other way I can see to insure a non-repeat of the crimes of the last 8 years.

And by the way - if any Democratic member of Congress is implicated in these war crimes (let's just call them what they are), they should stand trial and, if convicted, face lengthy prison sentences also. Torture should mean certain ruin, prison and disgrace to any politician who orders, enables, or abides it.


Isn’t revisiting the abuses of the last eight years, no matter how bad they were, a luxury we can’t afford?

No, it isn’t, because America is more than a collection of policies. We are, or at least we used to be, a nation of moral ideals. In the past, our government has sometimes done an imperfect job of upholding those ideals. But never before have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for. “This government does not torture people,” declared former President Bush, but it did, and all the world knows it.

And the only way we can regain our moral compass, not just for the sake of our position in the world, but for the sake of our own national conscience, is to investigate how that happened, and, if necessary, to prosecute those responsible.

...For the fact is that officials in the Bush administration instituted torture as a policy, misled the nation into a war they wanted to fight and, probably, tortured people in the attempt to extract “confessions” that would justify that war. And during the march to war, most of the political and media establishment looked the other way.

It’s hard, then, not to be cynical when some of the people who should have spoken out against what was happening, but didn’t, now declare that we should forget the whole era — for the sake of the country, of course.

Sorry, but what we really should do for the sake of the country is have investigations both of torture and of the march to war. These investigations should, where appropriate, be followed by prosecutions — not out of vindictiveness, but because this is a nation of laws.

We need to do this for the sake of our future. For this isn’t about looking backward, it’s about looking forward — because it’s about reclaiming America’s soul.

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