Barack Obama would never sanction torture of prisoners and had he been president of the United States after 9/11 the current furor concerning torture would not have arisen. He is a sensitive and caring human whose mind is centered in law and in human decency. Unfortunately, he is trapped in a dilemma that was created by George Bush and to ignore the reality of what happened to human rights during the Bush administration would be as disastrous as ignoring the financial mess the man from Texas left behind. An America which signed the Geneva Conventions, an America which has always prided itself on being a moral society can not walk away from its responsibilities. In the 1980s, the United States Congress apologized for the internment of Japanese Americans. It was a moment of national pride and did not damage our world reputation.
The essential concept emerging from the Nuremburg Trials after World War II was that members of the military were responsible for their actions even when ordered to violate the Geneva Conventions. President Obama’s pledge not to place on trial members of the military who engaged in torture because they were ordered by superiors violates everything the world thought was established at Nuremburg. Each of those men who tortured a prisoner had an option. They could have refused on grounds they were given an illegal order and then taken their decision to superior officers. The Obama statement now takes away that option which is critical if the American military is to be a moral force.
Since the issue arose, Obama has twisted and turned in every direction arguing we have serious economic problems and can not be “distracted” by the torture issue. Those who are involved in the torture issue have nothing to do with the economic crisis, it is as though Obama was mixing oranges and apples. This blog does not call for the imprisonment of any low level member of the armed forces. We urge creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which allows these individuals to tell the truth and let the American people know how the Bush administration violated everything we hold dear in our society. A confession also allows these individuals to cleanse their soul, many of which are probably experiencing the mental torture those who inflict pain feel in their hearts.
Yes, we have a major economic crisis. But, we have responsibilities to be a force for morality in the world. The truth must be told or what happens to our souls? The issue is what price salvation for our society?