Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bush is on the hook for torture

In the wake of yesterday's admission from the CIA that it had tortured three suspected terorists in violation of US and international law, the White House has come out fighting, denying that waterboarding is torture and saying that they might waterboard more people if they decide it is necessary. But the real news here isn't that President Bush still loves torture or that he is still in denial about the legal status of what he is doing (hint: if the Spanish Inquisition and the Gestapo did it, it's torture - something US courts have at least had the decency to recognise in the past), but that he personally authorised it every time it was used:

If the CIA wanted to water-board a suspect in future, the head of the CIA would discuss the particular circumstances with the attorney general, who would determine the legality of the issue, and then take it to the president, Mr Fratto said.
(Emphasis added)

There's a word for a person who decides whether someone is tortured or not: "co-conspirator". And if the process remotely resembles that admitted by the White House, then the President of the United States is now on the hook for three charges of "conspiracy to torture", each carrying a penalty of up to life imprisonment. And if that isn't a "high crime and misdemeanor" justifying impeachment, I don't know what is.