Leaving the Judging Up to History

Andrew Sullivan writes:

The men who ordered a man tied to a chair, doused in water, and chilled to hypothermia so intense he had to be rushed to emergency medical care, the men who presided over at least two dozen and at most a hundred prisoners tortured to death, the men who ordered an American servicewoman to smear fake menstrual blood over a Muslim’s face in order to win a war against Jihadism, the men who ordered innocents stripped naked, sexually abused, terrified by dogs, or cast into darkness with no possibility of a future, and did all this in the name of the Constitution of the United States, the men who gave the signal in wartime that there were no limits to what could be done to prisoners of war and reaped a whirlwind of abuse and torture that will haunt American servicemembers for decades: these men will earn the judgment of history. It will be brutal.

Which is swell! But to say that it is, on its own, sufficient is completely ridiculous. We don’t leave muggers, murderers, carjackers, etc. to be reprimanded solely in the court of public opinion, and we shouldn’t do that for people who violate the United States Constitution and international law either. What does history think of the folks who witness atrocities committed in their names, and then decide to let it slide so that the perpetrators can go on to lucrative public speaking careers and pump out best-selling memoirs?

To be clear, this isn’t about revenge–it’s about deterrence, and upholding the integrity of the United States justice system. If Barack Obama thinks that the people who authorized torture, lied to send us into war, detained people without habeas corpus and illegally spied on journalists should remain free, then he should pardon them. Otherwise, appoint a damn special prosecutor and let the legal system do what it’s there to do.

(h/t Jamelle)


2 Responses

  1. I couldn’t agree more.
    Guantanamo should be left open to bush Administration inmates.

  2. Amen.

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