Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Should President Obama Pardon Bush/Cheney for War Crimes?

Image found at TrueActivist
Every so often, in politics, there is a really interesting play on the table. Something you didn't expect. Something that may accomplish part of a long-held goal, but possibly in a roundabout way. That's happening right now, though the odds are long that it would ever happen.

Just about everybody agrees that the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney administration authorized "enhanced interrogation techniques" in the years following September 11, 2001, and that they were. . .extra-legal. Most people agree that these techniques went over the line, and I'd be willing to guess that a majority consider them outright torture. Where a partisan divide appears is in whether or not we care that we tortured people.

One could argue that a patriot should care. The United States of America is not supposed to commit war crimes with impunity, torture with no oversight, or imprison without due process. Especially at times when we're burning for vengeance, or just plain scared. Those are the times when our laws, our treaties, our moral compasses, our humanity and our Constitution need to be vigorously defended and adhered to. If not, exactly what are we defending?

Image from the (hopefully ironically titled)
So, while we quibble about how much over the line GWB & Co. went, we know they crossed it. Many of us think of them as outright war criminals. But we're also aware that--even though the other side can impeach a sitting president for lying about a trifle--there is no political stomach for trying and convicting any of those involved for said crimes. Which gives zero incentive for future presidents to follow even the most serious of laws. And the clock is running. Can we really expect the next president, or the next, to act on something so far in the rear view?

And act how? No way there's a trial or trials. It's just not going to happen. But someone has come up with a novel solution: Have President Obama pardon them all. It's a radical solution. It lets everyone off the hook. There might even be international blowback just for that. But it also brands them all as war criminals. Exonerated, but criminals, nonetheless. It's an asterisk that will be in every history book. And it would potentially act as a deterrent from a future president from crossing that line. Every person who wants to be president has an outsized ego. They do not want to be branded a war criminal, no matter how power-hungry they are.

All of that said, I think there's close to a zero chance that Obama would do it. I think personally, he'd love to. But I'm not sure the political will of the party apparatus is even there for that. Which is a pity. But think about this: should the GOP follow through with their "Operation: Kill Obama's Legacy" plan in the next two years, this could be in his back pocket.

Maddow: Pardon Bush for Torture To "Make It Clear Crimes Were Committed"

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Tonight, the head of the national ACLU has just published this op-ed in the New York Times. It calls for President Obama to issue a pardon to former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney and other senior Bush administration officials for overseeing torture as the U.S. policy for years. . .

Read more at: Real Clear Politics

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