Saturday, September 5, 2009

Investigate Cheney?

Some readers strongly believe that someone—either Congress or a special prosecutor—should investigate whether the people responsible for torturing detainees should themselves be held to account.

The argument goes that the American people deserve the truth. And ethically that would be a good thing, but, alas, this is one of those times when ethics demands a difficult choice, not between good and bad, but between good and good.

It was good to punish the soldiers who tortured and killed prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Baghram Air Base, and Guantanamo. It would be good to punish the higher-ups who set them on that path or at least tolerated their evil. But there’s another good at issue here: the social harmony of the American people.

Our American community has deteriorated to the point that large numbers of Democrats believe that George W. Bush was complicit in the attack of 9/11, and large numbers of Republicans believe that Barack Hussein Obama is a Kenya-born fascist who is plotting to murder grandma. And worse, far worse, “adults” in both parties are standing by in silent acquiescence.

The greater good is the restoration of American comity. My political mentor, former congressman James Leach (R-IA), explained,

“I’ve always believed in the philosophy of [Christian theologian] Reinhold Niebuhr, ‘The temper of and integrity with which the political fight is waged is more important for the health of our society than the outcome of any issue or campaign.’”

It’s time to restore the temper and integrity of the political fight. The best way to start is to follow the direction that President Obama has pointed: forward.


Judith Ellis said...
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Judith Ellis said...

Oh, Bob, I so often honor and value your words, but I must say that I disagree with you here. There is simply no comparison to what went on during the Bush White House, i.e., the torture and murder of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Baghram Air Base, and Guantanamo and the means by which it was done via lawyers, WMDs, and allegations by Gonzales and Ridge who have both recanted obviously under pressure, can't be compared to wingnuts.

Surely the atrocities above can’t be compared to these wingnuts. They just want to believe that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. There is zero legitimization to their argument. These are they who do not want the President of the United States to speak to their children for fear of indoctrination. Pulease, this has more to do with their inability to legitimize this particular presidency. There is simply no comparison here.

Regarding the greater good, is there no justice? I believe that all of the things above, if true, are unjust and it is not about acrimony, but about the rule of law. If your or I broke the law as these seem to have done, we would be sitting in prison right now, deemed a threat to society. Are you advocating the lack of justice for peace? What about the cry, "no justice no peace?" Not to mention that these do not even believe in apologizing. It is this defiance that must be dealt with in my estimation.

I loved the Neibuhr quote when you first posted it here until its application to this case. Should we have given President Nixon a pass? Should we not consider the some 200,000 - 900,000 Iraqi civilians who lost their lives because of a false premise? Is the "health of our society" worth more than their lives?

I do completely agree with you that it is time "to restore the temper and integrity of the political fight." The problem here is not restoration but justification. Can honor be restored without justice? Are we not a nation of laws and morality? Restoration comes through acknowledgement and forgiveness. I am all for forgiveness. But have we even seen a shred of repentance or regret from Cheney and those who seems to have marched to his drum? Absolutely not!

Bob said...

Nixon behaved criminally, was impeached, and then pardoned. I believe Bush and Cheney behaved foolishly and worse. But as a general principle, the way our republic deals with foolish executives is to turn the fools out of office.

Judith Ellis said...

"But as a general principle, the way our republic deals with foolish executives is to turn the fools out of office."

LOL, Bob!

An investigation is needed to see if Cheney, an executive in the Bush administration, behaved criminally. Turning him out of office isn't enough if criminals orders were given. President Obama can pardon at will. But an investigation, I feel, is needed.

Initially, I agreed with the President until I began thinking about the rule of law and the morality of it all. I also began thinking about our standing in the world, the kind of message it would give those around the world, including young people.

When someone like Cheney has been all over the media these months, speaking so brashly and defiantly, I say investigate him. Of course, it would not be as easy as a pardon from the US. This will not be all he will need if found guilty. The Hague may come after him. This I only considered yesterday. But who's above the law? Often the rich and powerful. Is Cheney among these?