Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pardon the Torturers? Convict Them First

Our current problems started when Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon before Nixon had been charged with his many crimes, much less convicted.

That put every fascist motherfucker in the repug party on notice that governmental power was a permanent get-out-of-jail-free card.

It's been an out-of-control slide downhill every since, from wiretapping through Iran-Contra (google it, children) all the way to torture.

Pardoning won't stop it.  Pardoning will make it worse


President Obama will not do this, I'm sure. It would open the door for some successor to "pardon" him to make a political point. But it's a very potent statement anyway: the only way we can even acknowledge that a crime was committed is to pardon the people who committed it after the statute of limitations has run out.

And I'm afraid I don't see that it would close the Pandora's box of torture. The minute they get the chance the torture advocates will simply make it legal. The taboo has been broken and banking on the law is a losing propositions in these situations. This is now a cultural problem more than a legal problem.

Back in the day the conservatives all used to wring their hands over what was happening in Bill Clinton's pants, asking the plaintive question, "what can we tell the children?" Sex is always a dicey thing to talk about with kids and I'm sure there were some uncomfortable moments around American dinner tables. What else is new?

But what in the hell do you tell your kids about torture? That some people think the "effective way to get to the truth"? That they shouldn't swing the cat around by the tail but in the hands of trained investigators it's ok? This was never a hard question before. Torture was never ok, always wrong, you simply cannot do it ever. That's not true anymore. Leaders in our country, very important people, are now saying that torture is not immoral. We're going backwards.
He concludes:
For the foreseeable future, we will never arrive at a bipartisan consensus that torture is wrong. Support for what they still consider mere "enhanced interrogation" is as much a tribal marker for conservatives as opposition to Obamacare or climate-change denialism. We lost the right on this issue a decade ago, John McCain and his friends excepted. They're not coming back.

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