Thursday, December 4, 2008

Oh, it's OK because they thought it was legal when they did it....

... Outgoing Attorney General Michael Mukasey has his own ideas, naturally, on whether there should be accountability for those in the Justice Department who wrote legal opinions supporting warrantless wiretaps and torture.


Some human rights groups have urged President-elect Barack Obama to launch criminal investigations into the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on al Qaeda terrorism suspects.

They also have questioned whether the Bush administration broke the law with its warrantless domestic spying program adopted after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Obama's advisers have yet to say what he will do, but one idea being considered is creating an independent commission, like the one that investigated the September 11 attacks, to examine the interrogation policies.

There has been speculation that President George W. Bush, before he leaves office next month and hands over to Obama, might give pardons to past or present officials implicated in the harsh interrogation methods or other abuses.

Mukasey told reporters at the Justice Department that he did not see the need for prosecutions or for pardons.

"There is absolutely no evidence that anybody who rendered a legal opinion either with respect to surveillance or with respect to interrogation policy did so for any reason other than to protect the security of the country and in the belief that he or she was doing something lawful," he said.

"In those circumstances, there is no occasion to consider prosecutions, there is no occasion to consider pardons," Mukasey said.

Notice the careful phrasing in the quotation highlighted in bold: the motivations of the people writing the opinions are the primary reason they should be free from accountabilit--they only advised breaking the law to protect us from terrorists.

Then the second answer is: They thought what they were doing was legal when they did it.

Yeah, right. Ignorance of the law has somehow suddenly become an excuse for attorneys.

I really don't want these folks prosecuted. I thought about it for a long time, and what I'd really rather spend the resources on is telling the whole story--with all the names attached--of who said what, when, and to whom--sort of like South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Prosecution will only make these individuals martyrs to their Statist, partisan supporters, and will provide the comforting illusion that government can bring us justice.

At best, government can bring us most of the truth, on a very good day.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for Mukasey to crawl back into his hole, while grimly acknowledging that in his own way Michael Holder may not be any more interested in defending personal civil liberties than his three immediate predecessors.


Delaware Watch said...

Frankly, I'm for turning the lot of then over to the World Criminal Court for prosecution. When we act internationally, we should be subject to international law.

Hube said...

If we prosecute, then we ought to retroactively prosecute at least two chief execs whom we now regard with awe: FDR and Lincoln. Their actions make anything Bushco. did pale in comparison.