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RPGWatch Forums » General Forums » Politics, Religion & other Controversies » Should Bush Administration Be Prosecuted for Torture?

View Poll Results - Should Bush & Co be prosecuted for torture, and if so by whom?

Yes. Everyone involved should be prosecuted if guilty by the Us govt. 3 8.11%
Yes. Everyone involved should be prosecuted if guilty by an international court. 12 32.43%
Only those who authorized illegal procedures should be prosecuted if guilty by the Us govt. 9 24.32%
Only those who authorized should be prosecuted if guilty by an international court. 5 13.51%
No one should be prosecuted by anyone even if guilty. 6 16.22%
Other 2 5.41%
Voters: 37. You may not vote on this poll

Default Should Bush Administration Be Prosecuted for Torture?

January 22nd, 2009, 19:54
With Bush and Cheney making it pretty clear in their exit interviews that they sanctioned waterboarding of prisoners at Guantanomo, which as I understand it constitutes torture under the Geneva convention, the question now is, were these interrogation techniques war crimes, should those who authorized and participated in them be prosecuted, and if so, by who?

This is the big iceberg looming up on the left and may even become the first big international controversy of the new Obama administration, and I can honestly say I don't know the answer. I realize this is an inflammatory topic, but I also think it one worthy of discussion for those in and outside of the US.

I've formulated this as a poll, so everybody can have a say, even those who don't want to endure the lashings of those they disagree with, but if you vote other, you might explain your position.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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January 22nd, 2009, 19:58
No. Let it die and move on.

I could be wrong, but I don't think waterboarding is specifically classified as torture under the Geneva convention, so it's a matter of interpretation. That said, the political fallout of a prosecution on this country would far outweigh the benefits. And if some foreign court decided to try there hand at it, it would be even worse. Let it die.

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January 22nd, 2009, 20:01
Morally yes, practically no. Right now the bipartisan spirit Obama is trying to foster in washington and generally across america and the world is too important to our chances of getting things back on track to be derailed by something like this.
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January 22nd, 2009, 20:51
What will prevent future abuses if we just move on? Besides, Obama doesn't have to be personnaly involved. Abuses can be investigated and prosecuted by Congress leaving Obama free to pursue his bipartisan approach.
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January 22nd, 2009, 21:04
Originally Posted by zahratustra View Post
Besides, Obama doesn't have to be personnaly involved. Abuses can be investigated and prosecuted by Congress leaving Obama free to pursue his bipartisan approach.
Conventional wisdom here is that the President is always the leader of his party. So it's hard for him to separate himself from his party's partisanship. The whole idea of the Democrats taking their earliest opportunity to push their weight around in the face of strong Republican objection is contrary to whole idea of bipartisanship.

That's not to say Bush and members of his administration should never be held accountable. I think they should. But not immediately.

Unfortunately, that solution isn't an option in this poll.
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January 22nd, 2009, 21:09
Originally Posted by zahratustra View Post
What will prevent future abuses if we just move on? Besides, Obama doesn't have to be personnaly involved. Abuses can be investigated and prosecuted by Congress leaving Obama free to pursue his bipartisan approach.
A valid concern, but the question of how widespread this abuse was is important. It's not like Bush allegedly committed crimes on the level of a Pinochet or something. He pushed the envelope, abet too far by many standards, he didn't tear it apart.

The negative reaction by the public to the Republican party in terms of both sentiment and elections is enough to keep this from happening again (at least in the near future). That's the nice thing about Democracy, the people get to have their voice heard. If the public won't stand for it, then the politicians (or party) suffer the consequences.

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January 22nd, 2009, 21:51
That's why I think that matters should be, at the very least, thoroughly investigated. Right now "people" have only a vague idea of what was done in their name and who have done what. Let's us see decision makers squirm in front of the Congressional commitee while trying to explain their decisions. That would (IMO) teach those responsible just what the meaning of "responsibility" in much more direct manner than rather vague ""public pressure".
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January 23rd, 2009, 08:34
The question is tricky legally as its not entirely clear that the Geneva conventions would apply to many (most?) of the people held (the Taliban not being a recognized government and most of the participants removed to Cuba not being regular or identified military. In theory they should have been protected by rights of habeas corpus and basic human rights which the Bush administration purposefully ignored.

As far as whether warterbording constitutes torture by a legal definition the best international definition I'm aware of is from the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1975

A1.i

For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
The US is a signatory - as far as I remember the Administrations defence was to define 'severe pain or suffering' as permanent physical mutilation (ie they could do anything sort of cut things off and it wouldn't be torture) - you can draw your own conclusions about that.

Either way any prosecution would be the responsibility of the state first and the international system only gets involved if the state is unwilling or unable to conduct a trial. In practical terms I doubt it'll go anywhere, which gives the Chinese, Iranians, Syrians, North Koreans and every other unpleasant regime every right to smirk and call Americans hypocrites when they talk about human rights.
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January 23rd, 2009, 08:44
I find the lack of consequences sends a message. Both to the nations who are currently not using torture and the ones who do: In the US you can torture and it's ok and the US is not a rolemodel for human rights.

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January 23rd, 2009, 09:18
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
I find the lack of consequences sends a message. Both to the nations who are currently not using torture and the ones who do: In the US you can torture and it's ok and the US is not a rolemodel for human rights.
That damage is already done. I think its unlikely that such a prosecution will take place. It would maek republicans extremely hostile towards the Obama administration, and he can have no interest in that. Legally, it also seems shaky, as most decisions, afaik, have passed through bipartisan comittees, or were known in congress, etc. - so it could easily spin out of control. It's bitter, but I think it may be better to let it pass and move on - and to put legislation in motion that makes it much harder for any future adminstration to go that route again.
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January 23rd, 2009, 09:53
I'm with Benedict and GBG on this one.

Morally, absolutely, yes, there should be a thorough investigation followed by prosecution of everybody, from the President down to the grunts administering the "procedures," with the guilty being punished and the innocent exonerated.

But practically, I think it would be a colossal waste of political capital. The thing is that according to polls taken at the time, a great majority of Americans approve of torture of terror suspects — some with more qualifications, some with less. Approval of torture in "ticking time-bomb" cases was near-universal; in cases where it would simply help to catch other terrorists it was about 65% IIRC.

That means that any action like this would be perceived as vindictive and narrowly partisan rather than cathartic, driven by genuine outrage, and expressing the will and values of the majority of the people. Given all of the other problems the US and the world are facing, I think it's more important to spend that political capital on things that would prevent similar horrors in the future. Given the approval ratings of torture, that will be difficult enough.

IOW, this will only make sense if the American public develops a revulsion for torture, and I don't see that happening in a hurry.

I still voted with my conscience on this poll, though.
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January 23rd, 2009, 10:49
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
That damage is already done. I think its unlikely that such a prosecution will take place. It would maek republicans extremely hostile towards the Obama administration, and he can have no interest in that. Legally, it also seems shaky, as most decisions, afaik, have passed through bipartisan comittees, or were known in congress, etc. - so it could easily spin out of control. It's bitter, but I think it may be better to let it pass and move on - and to put legislation in motion that makes it much harder for any future adminstration to go that route again.
Oh the damage is already done to America's reputation and moral standing. Passing legislation to make it harder? Laws didn't stop them implementing the warrantless wiretapping exercise or leaking the name of a CIA agent. I think the lesson here for Americans here is that their presidents and senior politicians are above the law and won't be held account for their actions no matter how illegal provided they have their party's support.

So sure, there's not much that can be done but the last eight years have left American democracy looking much weaker. Personally I think Americans should be demanding heads, not so much for the torture but for the precedents set for future administrations.
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January 23rd, 2009, 11:22
Bush had the right idea in how to deal with terrorism, and unfortunately the shortsighted shouted more loudly than those focused on the long-term goal. Time will bare this out.
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January 23rd, 2009, 12:14
I have to say I've got an absolutely great disconnect going on in my brain. I can feel really angry and outraged about stuff like this but when I'm watching 24 I'm still sitting there going "Go on Jack! Break his fingers! You don't have time to hang around and he's holding out on the latest unconvincing plot twist! HIT HIM!!!!"
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January 23rd, 2009, 12:25
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
In the US you can torture and it's ok and the US is not a rolemodel for human rights.
What a surprise, yet another useless jab at the US from you. Just curious, which country IS a rolemodel for human rights?
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January 23rd, 2009, 14:40
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
What a surprise, yet another useless jab at the US from you. Just curious, which country IS a rolemodel for human rights?
Here's a list of the countries that made the highest category in the Freedom House, Economic Freedom, and Press Freedom indices. You could do worse than use them for role models.

* Austria
* Canada
* Denmark
* Estonia
* Finland
* Germany
* Iceland
* Ireland
* Mauritius
* Netherlands
* New Zealand
* Sweden
* Switzerland
* United Kingdom
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January 23rd, 2009, 14:55
They bitch if we do nothing about terrorism. They bitch if we go after terrorism. They bitch about how we go about it when we do. They bitch about how we reflect on actions after the fact. Notice a trend? If you've got the calluses, you can complain about the job; otherwise shut yer damn mouth and get out of the way.

You don't care for our approach? Step up, boys. Get yer hands a little dirty and show us how you think it should be done. We'll be happy to take a break if you'd like a turn with the shovel.

It's absolutely insulting to be second-guessed by a bunch of benchwarmers.

edit- I voted "other" because all the poll choices have an assumption of guilt.

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Last edited by dteowner; January 23rd, 2009 at 15:06.
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January 23rd, 2009, 15:05
None of those countries had 2,974 people killed in a single morning by a terrorist organization. I'd be willing to bet their opinion on waterboarding (assuming they oppose it) might be a little different if they had been the ones on the receiving end of 9-11.
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January 23rd, 2009, 15:06
Had to take a slow deep breath there.

The US isn't the only country to experience terrorism.

The US isn't the only contry involved in dealing with it.

Some of our countries have been dragged into your counterproductive expensive futile wars in large part because our governments felt they had to stand by you.

So I think we're entitled to an opinion. Its not as if you care or pay any attention even when it would benefit you to do so.

And how long are you gonig to milk 9/11 for political point scoring?
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January 23rd, 2009, 15:08
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
They bitch if we do nothing about terrorism. They bitch if we go after terrorism. They bitch about how we go about it when we do. They bitch about how we reflect on actions after the fact. Notice a trend? If you've got the calluses, you can complain about the job; otherwise shut yer damn mouth and get out of the way.

You don't care for our approach? Step up, boys. Get yer hands a little dirty and show us how you think it should be done. We'll be happy to take a break if you'd like a turn with the shovel.

It's absolutely insulting to be second-guessed by a bunch of benchwarmers.
Dte, there are plenty of countries in the world where terrorism is a daily occurrence. If you believe the USA is the only one doing anything about it, you're seriously out of touch with reality. Calling countries like Germany, France, the UK, Spain, or Japan "benchwarmers" is not only inaccurate, it's also extremely insulting, or ignorant. Red Army Force, Groupe Islamique Armée, IRA, ETA, Aum Shinri Kyo or Japanese Red Army ring any faint bells, perhaps?

The USA is the one that's new to this game. It not only "second-guessed," but completely refused to listen to any of the countries with extensive experience fighting terrorism, but called them "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" into the bargain.

And no, we haven't forgotten that yet.
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