President Obama released more of the “torture memos” two days ago, but promised no prosecution of the people (CIA agents and military personnel) who actually carried out the torture. They were just “following orders”. Where have I heard that excuse before?
I posted on a blog yesterday my thoughts about this position:
“The CIA and military personnel who “followed orders” are certainly guilty of breaking U.S. law and various international treaties. Why say anything about granting immunity to anyone right out of the gate? It seems to me that if you are going to refuse to prosecute the ones who actually held the prisoner down and the one who poured the water, you’ve tacitly acknowledged that a “crime” did not take place; and so why, then, would you ever go after the one who ordered it and who was not even in the room where it took place? I simply do not believe the average enlisted military person is unaware that torture is against the law. We are not speaking of the general awfulness of warfare or questioning whether the soldier should have used a rifle instead of a bayonet to kill the enemy coming at him (because the rifle would have been a quicker and kinder death), we are talking about the gratuitous and loathsome inflicting of pain on a human who is caged up and rendered helpless and non-threatening while (supposedly) awaiting trial to prove his guilt or innocence.”
Today, I see this on the Huffington Post, by David Bromwich, Yale University:
“It may seem that the worst of the torture amnesty is that by exonerating those who committed illegal acts, it discredits any eventual prosecution of those who gave the orders. The release of agents from the imputation of criminal conduct also implies a redefinition of the acts themselves as not criminal; and if no crime was committed when a person did a thing, no crime was meditated when a person ordered the thing done.”
He says it better than I do.