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To prosecute or not to prosecute
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 1:46 pm    Post subject: To prosecute or not to prosecute Reply with quote

Obama's resisting prosecuting those who used the "enhanced" questioning techniques on the inmates at Guantanamo. Many others, including both liberals and conservatives, think they should be prosecuted. What do you think?
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Kass



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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that it isn't a liberal or conservative issue. The fact is that our laws against torture require the President to prosecute. If he does not, and appallingly it appears that our President has no respect for the law and will not, then he can be charged with conspiracy to commit torture, too. And I hope he is.
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dick



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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But sometimes the law doesn't achieve justice. I have a hard time, for example, thinking it's just to prosecute someone who has been told what he is asked to do is legal by those who should be able to determine that it is. He's like the soldier in the field who has the right to refuse to obey an order he knows to be unlawful, but how does he exercise that right when the act has been declared legal by the commander in chief and the many minions who have supposedly taken great care to look into the legality of it? He might be in error morally, but how is he in error legally?
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Kass



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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But sometimes the law doesn't achieve justice. I have a hard time, for example, thinking it's just to prosecute someone who has been told what he is asked to do is legal by those who should be able to determine that it is.

Well, to be honest, I have a hard time believing that soldiers who've read the Army Field Manual, which bans torture, could believe what they were doing is legal. But ... you've never been a prosecutor, have you? To build a case like this one, what you do is, you go after the little fish at first...to get them to give up info on the big fish. You give the little fish reduced or "probationary" sentences in return for being able to get that bastard Cheney in jail for the rest of his miserable life.

Allegedly.
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dick



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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even had I read the Army field manual (which I did about 50 years ago, under highly controlled conditions, by the way), had my commanding officer told me that waterboarding was NOT torture I would have faced an impossible decision, I think. Even asking for proof of what the officer contended could have proved perilous, and even had I asked for that proof, were he to present the memoranda from highly placed and supposedly astute legal minds, I would have been out-gunned legally.

Don't you think it's a moral rather than a legal issue, though? Isn't it much like the question of abortion?

No, I've never been a prosecutor, but I think there's some injustice in the practice you suggest prosecutors employ.
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bbmedos



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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All of these arguments might work just a tad bit better if someone took Pelosi aside and told her to get with the program. Whatever that is. Or maybe shut up with the rambling, double talk or stop talking to the press altogether?

Hmm?

Then, again, they could start with prosecuting her . . . if she ever figures out what she knew and when she knew it.
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Kass



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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Don't you think it's a moral rather than a legal issue, though?

As a 1998 graduate of law school, no, I do not. Torture is illegal, just like kidnapping and murder are. I would be deeply offended if the same people who are apologists for torture started saying that (only a hypothetical here) the Bush administration's deliberate murder of, say, several U.K. citizens during its regime shouldn't be prosecuted as well.

Torture is illegal. It may not be resorted to during war time. You probably remember that we sentenced a Japanese officer who tortured U.S. citizens during WWII to fifteen years hard labor for doing it. Are you saying we should go back and apologize to him? What he did is a crime. What these people did is also a crime, a war crime.

And yes, bbmedos, unlike the torture apologists I think EVERYONE involved should be investigated (not just my political opponents), and no matter what their politics: if they're guilty of torture, prosecute them to the full extent of the law.
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bbmedos



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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Then you have a major problem because you can argue the legalities and the ethics all day long and it doesn't change the fact that this thing also centers around politicians who are still in power and are still making the decisions - not only the ones who are out of office.

Sure, it's easy to paint certain people as being to blame for everything but the truth is that a lot of people also in real power and in positions to speak out knew what was going on - and did nothing. Yes, there have always been people speaking out against this. I get that. However, it does not help the case for prosecution that some of the highest in power at the time did nothing to stop it. In truth, even agreed in many cases. That they are manufacturing outrage now only hurts even more any potential future cases.
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Mark



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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Torturers should definitely be prosecuted. I have never studied law, but I'm almost certain I've read that the Nuremberg trials after WW II established the principle that following orders is no excuse, and torture is a crime in US and international law.
I was rather horrified that a recent poll in the local paper (unscientific--whoever phones the number they give out) had a slight majority say a nation committing torture was justified. I know I live in a right-wing city, but I didn't know it was so lost to American ideals.
American history is full of failure to live up to the democratic and other ideals we claim as the foundation of our society and culture--just look at our history of slavery, racism, treatment of American Indians (Native Americans, whatever name is current), our many wars, religious intolerance, etc.--but I hadn't realized the moral rot personified by the Bush regime was so widespread that people aren't even pretending to believe in the ideals anymore.
Even if the moral and legal arguments don't sway people, don't people understand that torture DOES NOT produce reliable data?
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dick



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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course "torture" is illegal. The problem is defining "torture," isn't it?
Once supposedly astute legal minds defined "waterboarding" for example, as an "interrogation technique," was it still legally torture? Isn't it at that point that the issue becomes a moral one for both the person setting the limits to torture and the person employing it?

In every step of the process, it wasn't legality that was ever at question, in my thinking. It was the moral character of both the definers and the perpetrators that was at fault. The question is where the greater accountability lies.

Most soldiers by the way, at least in my time in the Army, are not "issued" a field manual--as they are say, a weapon--in which they can "check" on whether something they are ordered to do is torture. They attend classes in which they are instructed, for maybe three or four hours, on the matters contained therein. So when they are ordered to do something they think is unlawful, they have to fall back on personal morality and hope that yes, indeed, the manual finds that order unlawful if they choose to disobey it. If their moral standards do not accord with it, they are up that proverbial creek. Thus, despite the Nuremberg trials, I'm far less certain than Mark that following orders is not an excuse.
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Kass



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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Then you have a major problem because you can argue the legalities and the ethics all day long and it doesn't change the fact that this thing also centers around politicians who are still in power and are still making the decisions

--So? We investigated politicians still in power during Watergate. That's why God invented special prosecutors. Give one carte blanche and s/he will investigate everyone, and bring those responsible to justice

Quote:
Sure, it's easy to paint certain people as being to blame for everything but the truth is that a lot of people also in real power and in positions to speak out knew what was going on - and did nothing.

--So your position is that since a lot of people knew about it, it wasn't a crime? Nonsense. That just makes it a conspiracy. We prosecute conspiracy all the time. Get that special prosecutor locked and loaded, and go after everyone. It's required and (for dick) it's the right thing to do as well.

Quote:
Once supposedly astute legal minds defined "waterboarding" for example, as an "interrogation technique," was it still legally torture?

--Yes, it was and is. This is why people in Europe are working on legal cases against the Bush Admin for the torture of their citizens under international laws to which the U.S. is a signatory.

Quote:
In every step of the process, it wasn't legality that was ever at question, in my thinking.

--According to every lawyer I've heard from who isn't an apologist for torture, there is no legal justification for this and those memos were and are not legally valid. So President Obama, as a lawyer himself, should know better and should have already appointed a special prosecutor to resolve this issue.

Quote:
despite the Nuremberg trials, I'm far less certain than Mark that following orders is not an excuse.

--I'm certain. It's not an excuse. Befehl ist befehl is not a valid defense to torture.
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dick



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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find certainty more difficult to achieve, I guess, as, I guess, many people do. Before 1933, for example, I would have been legally certain that making, selling, or transporting liquor was illegal in the U.S., although I'm uncertain whether I would have found it morally so. Prior to Rowe vs. Wade, I would have been legally certain that abortion was illegal, although I would have been morally uncertain.
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bbmedos



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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2009 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
I was rather horrified that a recent poll in the local paper (unscientific--whoever phones the number they give out) had a slight majority say a nation committing torture was justified. I know I live in a right-wing city, but I didn't know it was so lost to American ideals.
American history is full of failure to live up to the democratic and other ideals we claim as the foundation of our society and culture--just look at our history of slavery, racism, treatment of American Indians (Native Americans, whatever name is current), our many wars, religious intolerance, etc.--but I hadn't realized the moral rot personified by the Bush regime was so widespread that people aren't even pretending to believe in the ideals anymore.


I wasn't going to come back to this thread because I get enough of these topics away from romance-related forums but I also will not allow misconceptions to stand when I see them.

The problem here is that people are assuming this is a left-vs-right issue. And it isn't. I know just as many people on the right who are conflicted or downright outraged about this issue as those on the left. The major difference is that they aren't blinded by or couch their arguments in "Bush regime" language. So, if you actually want to make some headway in discussing this, you might want to drop the attitude that it is all about Bush. It's either about torture being wrong or it's not. It could win you some allies. Or not.

I hate to say it, but I have to agree with Dick again. Wink The problem is defining where torture begins and ends. Overall and possibly in each individual case. If this goes that far. Because whether you want to believe it's cut and dried, it's not, and whether you want it to be a political matter or not, it is. Especially when politicians start talking themselves in circles about what they know and when they knew it.

Quote:
So your position is that since a lot of people knew about it, it wasn't a crime? Nonsense. That just makes it a conspiracy. We prosecute conspiracy all the time. Get that special prosecutor locked and loaded, and go after everyone. It's required and (for dick) it's the right thing to do as well.


Actually, that's not what I said. What I am saying is that when politicians stick their fingers in the pie, things get muddied. The major problem at the moment is that the current politicians who most seem to want the investigation you're demanding can't seem to get their own stories straight. Or keep backtracking on what to do about it. And until they do or someone does, there isn't going to be any kind of investigation because they're not about to shoot themselves in the foot, individually or collectively. Are they?

That is politics as usual.

That is what I'm saying.

So, scream about Bush & company all you want, but are they really the obstacle in your path at the moment?
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Kass



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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2009 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
scream about Bush & company all you want

Do you really think that Nancy Pelosi, who was a member of Congress and not influential in any way in the past eight years, set up the torture program and told our military to torture prisoners at Abu Ghraib? Do you really think that the politically impotent Democrats in 2002 and 2003 set this up all by themselves?

Come on. We know this wouldn't have happened without Bush/Cheney. Cheney is the ultimate source on this. All these distractions about "oh, we told Congress" reads to me like "please don't investigate those who are really guilty, just go after someone who had no control and didn't instigate, monitor, or run our torture program."

The only politically motivated stuff I see is the stuff the Bush apologists in Congress and the ex-Bush staff are pushing about how torture was fine, but if it wasn't it was all Congress' fault, not the fault of the guys who conceived, ran, and executed the torture program.
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bbmedos



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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2009 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kass wrote:
Quote:
scream about Bush & company all you want

Do you really think that Nancy Pelosi, who was a member of Congress and not influential in any way in the past eight years, set up the torture program and told our military to torture prisoners at Abu Ghraib? Do you really think that the politically impotent Democrats in 2002 and 2003 set this up all by themselves?

Come on. We know this wouldn't have happened without Bush/Cheney. Cheney is the ultimate source on this. All these distractions about "oh, we told Congress" reads to me like "please don't investigate those who are really guilty, just go after someone who had no control and didn't instigate, monitor, or run our torture program."

The only politically motivated stuff I see is the stuff the Bush apologists in Congress and the ex-Bush staff are pushing about how torture was fine, but if it wasn't it was all Congress' fault, not the fault of the guys who conceived, ran, and executed the torture program.


Again, you're talking about the past and I'm talking about the present.

Regardless of what happened then, if you want it to be investigated now, don't you have to get the politicians in power currently to back the investigation?

Do you see that happening?
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