It has been fascinating to watch some of this country’s most prominent conservatives slowly come to realize that what the loony left has been saying for so long is actually true.
Professor Marty Lederman talks about the New York Times article which very clearly lays out a now indisputable fact—the United State of America had an official policy, set at the very highest levels, of approving torture:
Between this and Jane Mayer’s explosive article in August about the CIA black sites, I am increasingly confident that when the history of the Bush Administration is written, this systematic violation of statutory and treaty-based law concerning fundamental war crimes and other horrific offenses will be seen as the blackest mark in our nation’s recent history — not only because of what was done, but because the programs were routinely sanctioned, on an ongoing basis, by numerous esteemed professionals — lawyers, doctors, psychologists and government officers — without whose approval such a systematized torture regime could not be sustained.
The way in which conservative lawyers, and conservative intellectuals, and conservative journalists aided and abetted these war crimes; the way in which the president of the United States revealed so much contempt for the law that he put a candidate to run the Office of Legal Counsel on probation before he appointed him in order to keep the torture regime in place, the way in which Republicans and Democrats in the Congress pathetically refused to stand up to these violations of American honor and decency in any serious way (and, I’m sorry, Senator McCain, but in the end, you caved, as you always do lately): these will go down in history as some of the most shameful decisions these people ever made. Perhaps a sudden, panicked decision by the president to use torture after 9/11 is understandable if unforgivable. But the relentless, sustained attempt to make torture permanent part of the war-powers of the president, even to the point of abusing the law beyond recognition, removes any benefit of the doubt from these people. And they did it all in secret – and lied about it when Abu Ghraib emerged. They upended two centuries of American humane detention and interrogation practices without even letting us know. And the decision to allow one man – the decider – to pre-empt and knowingly distort the rule of law in order to detain and torture anyone he wants – is a function not of conservatism, but of fascism.
That’s right. He said it. He dropped the F-bomb.
He’s right, of course. And it’s what so many millions of us have been saying. But the fact that it’s been openly discussed by a conservative in such a high-profile venue is something different.
But he’s not done. He takes it a step further. A big step:
There is no doubt – no doubt at all – that these tactics are torture and subject to prosecution as war crimes. We know this because the law is very clear when you don’t have war criminals like AEI’s John Yoo rewriting it to give one man unchecked power. We know this because the very same techniques – hypothermia, long-time standing, beating – and even the very same term “enhanced interrogation techniques” – “verschaerfte Vernehmung” in the original German – were once prosecuted by American forces as war crimes. The perpetrators were the Gestapo. The penalty was death.
We have war criminals in the White House. What are we going to do about it?
And that’s the question.