The task of American democracy tackling the kind of issues that were once the province of South American countries has now begun. The authorization of war crimes, torture, and illegal wire-tapping by this administration needs to be thoroughly investigated in order to hold more than a few scapegoat grunts responsible. The definitive proof is in the hands of the administration - and they have a constritutional duty to hand it over to the Congress. Since the Bush administration has repeatedly said that they have never authorized torture or war crimes, then they presumably should be eager to hand over the critical, relevant documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee in order to exonerate themselves as quickly as possible. According to the president, he has never signed any memos authorizing torture - so what does he have to lose?
The usual arguments will be made about "national security" requiring complete secrecy. But these are not operational secrets that the enemy can use. These are documents that may or may not reveal techniques that have already been exhaustively documented in public, and that any enemy with a modem knows about in full. The only secret is: who signed off on them, and when? The fundamental question is not the content of the memos so much as who authored them and what exactly did they sign off on? Money quote:
Justice Department officials have long said they will resist efforts to require disclosure of classified documents that provide legal advice to other agencies. But in the interview this week, Mr. Leahy signaled that he expected the department to provide a fuller documentary history on issues like detention.
The senator's letter to Mr. Gonzales requested "all directives, memoranda, and/or orders including any and all attachments to such documents, regarding C.I.A. interrogation methods or policies for the treatment of detainees." It also sought an index of all documents related to Justice Department inquiries into detainee abuse by "U.S. military or civilian personnel in Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib prison or elsewhere."
We need proof of Bush's, Cheney's, Rumsfeld's and Gonzales' direct involvement in turning the United States into an international pariah on questions of prisoner abuse and torture. Then we need justice.
(Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty.)