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Archive for May 3rd, 2009

To Prosecute,or not?

To Prosecute, or not?

The torture practice of the Bush administration, without a doubt, has hurt the international standing of the United States of America. The “moral Superiority of the U.S.” as a country which “supposedly” does not use certain methods of interrogation like other countries that were looked down upon, is gone.

Under U.S. law, torture is illegal and is prohibited under Title 18 of the United States Code which deals with federal crimes and criminal procedures. Moreover, torture in all its forms is banned by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the U.S. is a party to a number of international conventions against torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

President Obama on January 22, 2009 signed Executive Order- ensuring lawful interrogations, “…to ensure compliance with the treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Conventions, and to take care that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed…”

After the release of the memos detailing torture methods approved by the Bush administration President Obama seems to be putting himself in a politically torturous position of calling the actions illegal but at the same time showing his administrations coyness for prosecution.

While former vice president Chaney justifies torture by claiming, that not only important information was garnered through this “enhanced methods”, but also no other terrorist attacks took place in America as a result of the use of these “methods”, President Obama during his East Room news conference of April 29, 2009, stated that “…water boarding violates our ideals and our values.  I do believe that it is torture… “He continued answering the question by saying, “… there might… have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but …  we could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that were consistent with our values…”

The issue here is not whether information was yielded by these methods or not. The question is whether torture is illegal or not. As My Philosopher friend K.T. asks, if a person who lost his job steals money from a bank and then uses the money he stole to feed his family and to pay his mortgage, is he a criminal? Should he be prosecuted?

It seems to me, President Obama must appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the criminal liability of high-ranking Bush administration officials. A president that came to power by promising accountability, transparency and a higher moral standard has no choice but to prove that his promises have value.

Mekonen Haddis

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