How Should President Obama Deal with Torture?
(Photos by Robin Holland)
This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with journalist Mark Danner and legal scholar Bruce Fein about revelations that the United States engaged in torture during the previous administration, and what President Obama and Congress should do now.
Danner said that Obama might not want to focus on torture due to its political divisiveness:
“This is an issue that, as he has put it, ‘divides the country.’ But because it divides the country, in my opinion, is one reason we have to confront it. The idea that this is about the past is simply wrong. It’s not about the past – it’s about our present politics… I support prosecutions, but I believe there needs to be a full investigation that will not only tell us in minute terms what was done – we already know a lot about this – but that will educate the country. Not only about what was done, but what was lost, and why this is important.”
Fein said that Obama avoid setting a precedent of lawlessness:
“We ratified the convention against torture in the Senate. We passed it and made it a crime – it’s not a Republican or Democratic issue… In 2004, we confronted the same problem we had with Nixon – he wasn’t going to investigate Watergate… But now the President and Vice President who authorized this are gone, so there’s no obstacle. If President Obama didn’t want to be President and faithfully enforce the laws, he shouldn’t be there… If Obama thinks that these people, as he’s said, have committed torture, and he doesn’t believe it should go forward for political reasons, he needs to pardon them… Then, at least, we do not have a situation where we have set a precedent that lies around like a weapon, that you can violate the law with impunity.”
What do you think?