>> Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Anne Applebaum, at Slate:

But the political rights and wrongs of this failed policy are no longer the point. What matters now is that our laws be enforced. America is not and never was a fascist state, and the CIA prisons were not the Gulag. These 14 prisoners were not tortured as part of an ordinary and accepted routine, in other words, but according to special rules and procedures, set up at the highest level of government by leaders who surely knew that they were illegal, or they would not have limited them so carefully. What we need now, therefore, is not an endless, politicized circus of a congressional investigation into every aspect of George W. Bush's White House but a very specific, carefully targeted legal investigation of the CIA's invisible prisons: Who gave the orders to use torture, who carried the orders out, what exactly was done, who objected? The guilty, however senior, should be named, forced to testify, and called to account—because the rule of law, and nothing else, is what makes us exceptional.

I actually don't have much to add to that, but I thought it was worth passing along. This isn't about politics or partisanship, this is about being a nation of laws and seeing to it that the laws are enforced. Nor is this about peripheral issues like the reasons we went to war in Iraq, say: whether the invasion was wise or necessary or justified, and whether the justifications proffered were actual reasons or merely rationalizations, and whether various officials lied or were misled or telling the truth as best they could--these things are irrelevant to whether agents of the United States engaged in torture in violation of Federal and/or international law and who authorized any violations that might have occurred.

We cannot say we have a government of laws, not of men, only to selectively enforce whatever laws we choose whenever it's expedient to do so--these things are exclusive. We are either a nation of laws or we are a lawless state. I still cling to the hope we will prove to be the former.


vince Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 6:51:00 PM EDT  

Eric, Ms. Applebaum is dead on, as are you. I hope those at the level that can actually hold these people accountable will do so.

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