Another Letter The Times Wouldn't Print

Could it be my breath?

To the Editor,

The concluding line of your editorial (“The Torture Debate: The Lawyers,” May 7), after terming that the pro-torture memos written by attorneys Jay Bybee, John Yoo and Steven Bradbury, were “a grotesque abrogation of duty and breach of faith,” proceeds to favor simply the release of the report from the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, stating, “There can be no excuse or justification for the abuses – or the abuse of the law. But telling the truth about what happened is the best way to ensure that it never happens again.”

How incredibly naïve! What these attorneys did was to conspire with their superiors in the Justice Department, with the attorneys on the White House staff and with the President, Vice-President and Secretary of Defense to  break both American and international law – specifically, the laws against torture written into the Geneva Conventions as well as sections of Title 18 of our own United States Code. Yet The Times thinks it’s sufficient that “state bar associations ... consider disciplinary action,” to which The Times adds that such discipline should be done in “unequivocal language.”

These CRIMINALS conspired to BREAK THE LAW! They used the power of their offices to put the stamp of approval, ostensibly from the People of the United States, on actions which the entire rest of the civilized world, and even our own precedents, condemn as WAR CRIMES! And as far as The Times is concerned, a slap on the wrist — as opposed to, say, waterboarding these three “geniuses” 266 times — is a fitting “punishment.” As if such “discipline” would stop the next batch of criminals to reach high office from committing the same or worse offenses!

Ever since Richard Nixon succeeded in escaping criminal prosecution  for the conspiracy in which he engaged, whose object was, in effect, to attempt to steal the presidency of the United States from the 1972 Democratic candidate, Republicans have understood that they could get away with ever-increasing criminal acts against the American people and not be brought to justice for them; the most recent high-ranking examples being George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet and Alberto Gonzales. President Obama has apparently already ruled out any punishment for the perpetrators who actually committed the tortuous acts, and the OPR report seems ready to absolve those who gave those actions their “legal” underpinnings — so who will wind up paying ANY price for the confirmed torture?

What are needed are CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS instituted against the perpetrators of the torture, those officials who ordered the torture, those officials (including Congress) who failed to speak out against it after they were informed of it and those who attempted to justify it with bogus “legal” rationales. NOTHING LESS will “ensure that it never happens again.”

Mark Kernes


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