Welcome to the Travel Forums


Why join TravelBlog?

  • Membership is Free and Easy
  • Your travel questions answered in minutes!
  • Become part of the friendliest online travel community.
Join Now! Join TravelBlog* today and meet thousands of friendly travelers. Don't wait! Join today and make your adventures even more enjoyable.

* Blogging is not required to participate in the forums


To prosecute or not to prosecute?

Advertisement
''Obama's most ardent supporters are split on whether he should prosecute Bush officials.''
5 years ago, November 18th 2008 No: 1 Msg: #54922  

But Michael Ratner, a professor at Columbia Law School and president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said prosecuting Bush officials is necessary to set future anti-torture policy.



Robert Litt, a former top Clinton administration Justice Department prosecutor, said Obama should focus on moving forward with anti-torture policy instead of looking back.



Quotes from Obama advisers: No charges likely vs interrogators

Which opinion do you hold and why?


Reply to this

5 years ago, November 20th 2008 No: 2 Msg: #55081  
Does anyone really know what goes on behind closed doors, geneva Convention or not? Im not sure we do. Certainly torture imposed by dictators like Pinochet (rats insrted into women, electricity into the rectum, etc..) doesnt occour in western countries who sauy they dont torture- instead they use methods not considered 'torture' when of course any reasonable person would say it is a form of torture. The USA and others torture suspects outside of their national boundries using foreign nationals, so technically no one from the country authorizing the torture is doing any of the dirty work themselves.

I dont know, as much as I dislike the Bush Administration, for some reason prosecution seems pointless- they are going to find a way out of the charges- but at the same time it would advance the notion of setting a new torture policy by setting an example. I suppose Obama should move forward, and let history lesson be the greatest guilty verdict- because as time goes on and our 20/20 hindsight vision comes into focus and we will see their terrible actions for what they really are. A violation of the Geneva convention, human rights and human dignity. The torture is just one part- what about Abu ghraib or the 100,000+ dead Iraqi civilians?! Reply to this

5 years ago, November 23rd 2008 No: 3 Msg: #55354  
B Posts: 52
I don't know a lot about the details of this issue, but philosophically speaking if the United States was engaged in the systematic torture of prisoners of war then at the very least there needs to be an independent inquiry into the matter. One thing I've learned during my time in China is that as Western countries, the strategy of offering or withholding economic and technological aid to influence the decisions of countries like this is becoming less and less relevant. When it comes down to it, the world looks to the West not just for economic or technological leadership, but rather for the reputation it has for strong values related to integrity, transparency, freedom and ethics. Unfortunately through its actions the United States has squandered its former position and much of the goodwill many people used to hold towards it so any new administration needs to take action to reverse that. While we certainly don't want a show trial of former Bush cronies, questions need to be asked. One can't expect to be seen as a world leader when it violates its own principles. That sets a very dangerous example for other countries that look up to it.

Interested in thoughts... Reply to this

5 years ago, November 24th 2008 No: 4 Msg: #55381  
I don't think the new United States government should undertake prosecution of the Bush administration. Isn't the place for that kind of trial is through the International Court of Justice based in The Hague?

I think it would do a lot for America's international reputation if they let the UN courts deal with this matter. As for who should bring the case to The Hague, that's a bit of a grey area in my mind. Certainly if eligible groups outside the US wanted to bring a case (or many cases) forward, Obama's government should not hinder them. Do I think the Obama government should chase this down themselves? I think their hands will be pretty full as it is.

Then again, I'm Canadian and we sometimes tend to be a bit partial to the UN... Reply to this

5 years ago, November 24th 2008 No: 5 Msg: #55387  
I go with dont prosecute. It would likely turn out to be a waste of resources that could be used to move forward. And is it really going to make it any clearer that what happened is wrong.?

Also, does anyone know of any case in the world where punishment resulted in progress, in the last 100 years? In my opinion it tends to create rage, resentment and confusion and the victims never feel better because the victimizers were punished.

It seems to me that most/all the worlds political stalemates are a result of seeking retribution, instead of choosing to move on.

I do however think it would be useful if the US government makes a declaration of intent to acknowledge that what happened is wrong both to the citizens of the US and the citizens and governments of the countries from which the victims originally came and recognise that the victims need the support of the US to rehabilitate into society and that the US will do everything currently known to help them do this.
Reply to this

5 years ago, November 24th 2008 No: 6 Msg: #55389  
B Posts: 52
I think I need to understand what we mean here by "prosecute". I think an independent inquiry does need to be held (Tannis - think of the Gomery inquiry we had in Canada). I understand we don't want to create rage/resentment/etc but that is no reason not to investigate and rectify past injustices. It is also not fair to the potentially hundreds of people whose fundamental human rights may have been violated to simply ignore what happened because we don't want to revisit bad memories. My view is that ignoring a problem creates more resentment than addressing it head-on. There are countless examples of this around the world.

So when I say questions need to be asked, I'm talking about an independent judicial inquiry, rather than something akin to the Nuremburg Trials. Healing can't happen without fully understanding and acknowledging the problem. Reply to this

5 years ago, November 24th 2008 No: 7 Msg: #55392  

I think it would do a lot for America's international reputation if they let the UN courts deal with this matter.



I see the usefulness of this too. It is like a courtcase to make a decision about what information is to be gathered with a view to setting world standards.

....to simply ignore what happened because we don't want to revisit bad memories.


Umm! Not sure what I said, that suggests that I think things shoud be swept under the carpet. Reply to this

5 years ago, November 24th 2008 No: 8 Msg: #55393  
B Posts: 52
Hi Mell:

My comment was prompted by this quote from you, which I took as suggesting the above. Happy to be corrected if I misunderstood.

Also, does anyone know of any case in the world where punishment resulted in progress, in the last 100 years? In my opinion it tends to create rage, resentment and confusion and the victims never feel better because the victimizers were punished.

It seems to me that most/all the worlds political stalemates are a result of seeking retribution, instead of choosing to move on.

Reply to this

5 years ago, November 24th 2008 No: 9 Msg: #55403  

Happy to be corrected if I misunderstood.



I think you misunderstood. What I meant is, I think useful and effective action should be taken, rather than repeating what has never worked.
Reply to this

5 years ago, November 24th 2008 No: 10 Msg: #55429  
B Posts: 52
Oh, in that case I completely agree! Apologies for misunderstanding Reply to this

5 years ago, November 24th 2008 No: 11 Msg: #55431  
No problem.
Reply to this

5 years ago, November 25th 2008 No: 12 Msg: #55501  
Oliver, I'm not sure the Gomery inquiry counts as independent Reply to this

5 years ago, November 25th 2008 No: 13 Msg: #55503  
B Posts: 52
Well conceptually you know what I mean. I think it actually was independent but let's not get into a discussion about that here since we will put Mell to sleep with our boring Canuck politics. Reply to this

5 years ago, November 25th 2008 No: 14 Msg: #55520  

....since we will put Mell to sleep with our boring Canuck politics.



Nah, I am always interested in hearing all aspects of politics.

What Tannis said about the inquiry made by a trusted body not in reality being fully independent is one of the main reasons I lean towards not prosecuting. The facts might get distorted and a guilty verdict is not going to make the accused see the light. I think what should happen is a more towards investigating what happened and a plan of action being made to prevent it happening again as well as some kind of process that will prevent/reduce the damage to society and world politics that will likely be a result of Guantanamo. Reply to this

5 years ago, November 25th 2008 No: 15 Msg: #55521  

One hot topic of discussion related to pardons is whether Bush might decide to issue pre-emptive pardons before he leaves office to government employees who authorized or engaged in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Some constitutional scholars and human rights groups want the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama to investigate possible war crimes.

If Bush were to pardon anyone involved, it would provide protection against criminal charges, particularly for people who were following orders or trying to protect the nation with their actions. But it would also be highly controversial.


Quote from Bush pardons 14 and commutes 2 prison sentences


Reply to this

5 years ago, November 25th 2008 No: 16 Msg: #55525  
B Posts: 52
Well it's true that it's hard to find a truly "independent" inquiry when we deal with subjective issues. I think you and I are saying the same thing when we talk about holding an inquiry - taking the literal word to mean "inquire" about what happened. I guess the next question becomes what to do with the answer, if it is uncovered that in fact human rights were violated and people were tortured. If you take that to its natural conclusion it means people could end up being prosecuted.

So I agree with what you say Mell. I'm interested, though, in your thoughts about what should be done if it's found out that human rights were intentionally violated by the US government - should we just take steps to not let it happen again, or should the people responsible be punished? After all, if an American citizen was tortured abroad, there's no doubt that the US government would call for justice. Should it be any different for a foreign national - even one that was captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan?

This I think is where I'm a bit stuck on what the answer should be. My gut tells me both are entitled to have their torturers prosecuted. What do you think? Reply to this

5 years ago, November 25th 2008 No: 17 Msg: #55572  
When world standards are set and refined it is a step towards focussing people more on being aware of what is right, rather than fear of punishment. Consider what the human rights standards were like in any modern country 200 years ago. Things have not changed and progressed because people fear being punished otherwise. Human rights standards have improved because of increased consiousness.

After all, if an American citizen was tortured abroad, there's no doubt that the US government would call for justice. Should it be any different for a foreign national - even one that was captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan?


Of course I dont think where of who should be a factor.

My gut tells me both are entitled to have their torturers prosecuted.


Most of the time when people want others to be prosecuted, punished or whatever it is because they have some negative energy to use up and are focusing it on the punishment, revenge.... That is why society has to be equipped with methods to send this energy in a direction where it wont be harmful. There needs to rehabilitation and support of victims. People in general seem to have little or no knowledge or education about how to realese their negative energy that is ultimately harmful to themselves and society.
Reply to this

5 years ago, November 26th 2008 No: 18 Msg: #55636  
B Posts: 52
So it looks like we agree, with the exception of what should be done about the people who may or may not have done something wrong. If we are to be serious about human rights and tell other countries (like China) they need to respect them, we need to demonstrate that there is no tolerance in the West for that kind of behaviour.

I still maintain that an inquiry should be held to at least understand what happened and whether follow-up action is taken. If that were to happen we would clearly need to make sure that any punitive measures are not done out of revenge but out of a commitment to justice, in the same way that people in civilian life must face the consequences of committing a crime. If that doesn't happen then we can't expect other countries with even greater human rights problems to pay us much attention when we call them on it. Reply to this

5 years ago, November 26th 2008 No: 19 Msg: #55691  

we can't expect other countries with even greater human rights problems to pay us much attention when we call them on it.



I think it is important that the world human rights standards are what we point at when saying what should and should not happen, rather than holding our own countries up as examples. It is true that many of what are know as Western countries are leading in progress of human rights, but if we are to hold ourselves up as the leaders to be followed then there are never ending examples of rights violations that are happening and happened in our countries that will justify things that are going on in not so advanced countries.

And then there is the thing that arrogant dictators dont give a toss about our human rights standards, unless economics are involved so why create a punishment for violaters in order to show them. Reply to this

5 years ago, November 26th 2008 No: 20 Msg: #55784  
Boy, am I kicking myself for not finding this thread earlier. Most of the discussion seems to be over already.

Before we start debating whether Bush and his Cabinet should be prosecuted (and presumably punished) for his war crimes and approval of torture in interrogation, I think the question we should ask is, "Is what the Bush administration did fundamentally wrong?"

What is it that Bush is accused of? Torturing prisoners in Abu Ghraib, torturing prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, and turning over terrorism suspects to less moral countries for torture and interrogation there. If I missed any, please tell me.

What happened at Abu Ghraib was a terrible thing, and the perpetrators certainly deserve to be punished. However, to say that Bush or his Cabinet had anything to do with those atrocities is ridiculous. The soldiers and officers responsible for the crimes were found guilty and sentenced four years ago, and nobody outside Iraq was ever implicated.

The detention center in Guantanamo Bay has become a euphemism for torture, but this reputation is undeserved. The CIA and other government agencies which operate there are held accountable by the government and do not treat the prisoners held there inhumanely, contrary to popular belief. The most serious allegation brought against the CIA in Guantanamo is the use of waterboarding. Waterboarding is a widely accepted method of interrogation and is endorsed by the CIA and the Justice Department. It is not a form of torture.

As for the deportation of terrorism suspects to other countries, these are cases of the US capturing criminals on the run from justice in other countries. America is morally and legally obligated to deport these people unless they apply for refugee status with the US. Since most of them don't, the Administration really has no other choice in the matter.

Mell, there is so much in your second post I take issue with I don't know which paragraph to quote first.

Also, does anyone know of any case in the world where punishment resulted in progress, in the last 100 years? In my opinion it tends to create rage, resentment and confusion and the victims never feel better because the victimizers were punished.



When Mussolini was captured for the second time, the Italian public lynched him. This is widely believed to be the best thing they could have done in the situation. One only has to turn to network nightly newscasts to see first hand accounts of how rape victims and the families of murder victims are vindicated and relieved by guilty verdicts against the perpetrators. I don't know how you can possibly say that punishment for crimes is counterproductive.

I go with dont prosecute. It would likely turn out to be a waste of resources that could be used to move forward. And is it really going to make it any clearer that what happened is wrong.?



Based on the evidence against the Bush administration, there is nothing to say that he has done anything wrong. And if you believe that the evidence of wrongdoing has been buried, you should be calling for a trial and a public inquiry, not saying one would be useless.

I do however think it would be useful if the US government makes a declaration of intent to acknowledge that what happened is wrong both to the citizens of the US and the citizens and governments of the countries from which the victims originally came and recognise that the victims need the support of the US to rehabilitate into society and that the US will do everything currently known to help them do this.



You start the post by saying that Bush should not be punished for his wrongdoing, but then go on to say that he should be villified and declared guilty in public by the Obama administration without a trial. That would be a lowdown, dirty, undemocratic thing to do. Talk about creating feelings of rage and resentment.

On top of that, suppose he was found guilty, and Obama did follow your plan of action. How much is it going to help for US phsychiatrists and doctors to descend on former Abu Ghraib prisoners 5 years after the fact and try to tell them they need American support to "rehabilitate into society"? How willing would they be to accept American charity given out of guilt? How arrogant, imperious and presumtuous would we look to them? The feelings of rage, confusion and resentment would be positively unprecedented.

All this isn't to say that Bush should quietly slip away into anonymity once he leaves office. An appropriate course of action could be to hold a public inquiry similar to the Gomery inquiry, to discuss the matter in an unbiased, bipartisan way and settle it for good. That way Bush will be proven innocent or guilty and there will be no more shadow discussions about what he did or did not do and what punishments he should or should not receive. Reply to this

Tot: 0.117s; Tpl: 0.013s; cc: 6; qc: 18; dbt: 0.0097s; 18; m:apollo w:www (50.28.60.10); sld: 2; ; mem: 6.2mb