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.