If there was ever an article worth reading in its entirety (and it's not a long one), it would be Dahlia Lithwick's "Interrogation Nation" as published yesterday at Slate. Here is one of several key passages as written on the heels of George W. Bush's latest proudly shameless admission that he ordered torture, and this week's announcement that nobody will be held accountable for purposely covering up some of those heinous acts by destroying video-taped evidence...
President Barack Obama decided long ago that he would "turn the page" on prisoner abuse and other illegality connected to the Bush administration's war on terror. What he didn't seem to understand, what he still seems not to appreciate, is that what was on that page would bleed through onto the next page and the page after that. There's no getting past torture. There is only getting comfortable with it. The U.S. flirtation with torture is not locked in the past or in the black sites or prisons at which it occurred. Now more than ever, it's feted on network television and held in reserve for the next president who persuades himself that it's not illegal after all.
We have argued since forever that if Bush and his gang of proudly boasting war criminals were not held to account for their abhorrent crimes, the future would be a dim one indeed, where any president in the future, of any political party, would preside over an ever-lowered bar for criminality. This is that future.
Lithwick's commentary is a chilling and maddening one, but it should be required reading for everyone in these United States --- at least for those who may someday wonder what the hell happened here, on our watch.
In the meantime, pressure is growing again, at least in a few circles which still seem to care about the Rule of Law and the U.S. Constitution, for a probe of Bush's torture orders, particularly in light of his recent admissions and our obligation to do so under the U.N. Convention Against Torture as signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988 and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1994.
UPDATE: Late this afternoon, U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers issued a statement urging the DoJ to "reconsider their decision reconsider the recent decision not to pursue justice against those responsible for destroying videotape evidence involving water boarding by the CIA" and, as importantly commit to "a thorough review of President Bush's now admitted ordering of waterboarding take place."
Conyers' statement goes on to say: "We are a nation of laws, not men, and the domestic and international laws - including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment - governing the use of torture are clear in their scope and application. There is no exception for the President or any other official and no lawyer's opinion can provide immunity from these laws."
The full statement follows below...