Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A special prosecutor for torture

The US Attorney-General has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate, and if necessary prosecute, torture by the CIA during the war on terror.

Good. It's not justice, not yet - we'll only get that when the full story of the CIA's crimes is told, and those responsible convicted and jailed - but its the first step. As for Republicans' concerns that this could have a "chilling effect" on similar activities by the CIA, Cthulhu forbid that the CIA should ever be discouraged from behaving illegally, immorally, and in violation of US and international law. Cthulhu forbid they should fear prosecution when they waterboard people, threaten to kill their children or rape their mothers, subject them to mock executions, or otherwise torture them. Why, then they might be required to act like decent human beings, rather than sadistic Nazis.

My concern here is not that this goes too far, but that it does not go far enough. The prosecutor should not just be looking at the CIA - they should be looking at the politicians who crafted the policy and gave the orders, and who therefore enjoy command responsibility for what was done. The only way torture will end is if those scumbags - people like Donald Rumsfeld, John Yoo, and Alberto Gonzales - are properly held to account.