In a blistering editorial published in the Monday edition of the New York Times, the editorial page editors are calling upon the Justice Department to open an investigation into the torture practices committed during the administration of President George W. Bush with an eye towards prosecuting those who “committed torture and other serious crimes,” along with former Vice President Dick Cheney and other major administration officials.
Under a headline reading, “Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses,” the board criticizes the administration of current President Barack Obama for failing “to bring to justice anyone responsible for the torture of terrorism suspects,” during the period following the attack on 9/11.
The editorial notes that the American Civil Liberties Union will present a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. on Monday calling for appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate what appears to be “a vast criminal conspiracy, under color of law, to commit torture and other serious crimes.”
Saying it is hard to imagine the current administration “having the political courage” to order an investigation, the board calls for a full investigation that will include major figures in the Bush administration, including Cheney, and former CIA director George Tenet.
“…any credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos,” the editorial reads. “There are many more names that could be considered, including Jose Rodriguez Jr., the C.I.A. official who ordered the destruction of the videotapes; the psychologists who devised the torture regimen; and the C.I.A. employees who carried out that regimen.”
The call for the Justice Department to proceed follows the release of the so-called “Torture Report” released over a week ago.
Noting confirmation of reports of “rectal feeding,” waterboarding, detainees hung by their wrists, confined to coffins, beaten, and threatened with death, the board calls the acts criminal offenses.
“These are, simply, crimes. They are prohibited by federal law, which defines torture as the intentional infliction of “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” They are also banned by the Convention Against Torture, the international treaty that the United States ratified in 1994 and that requires prosecution of any acts of torture,” they write.
The board concludes, “Starting a criminal investigation is not about payback; it is about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments. Because of the Senate’s report, we now know the distance officials in the executive branch went to rationalize, and conceal, the crimes they wanted to commit. The question is whether the nation will stand by and allow the perpetrators of torture to have perpetual immunity for their actions.”