Toon of the Day
Toon of the Day
War Criminal Confesses
The Noose Tightens
Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and other top Bush officials could soon face legal jeopardy.
Newsweek Web Exclusive
In early December, in a highly unusual move, a federal court in
High-level charges, if they come, would be a first in
Constitutionally, Bush could pardon everyone involved in formulating and executing the administration's interrogation techniques without providing specifics or naming names. And the pardon could apply to himself. Such a step, however, would seem like an admission of guilt and thus be politically awkward. Even if Bush takes it, civil suits for monetary damages could still proceed; such cases, though hard to win, are proliferating. Yet most legal scholars argue that a civil suit would not the best approach here. Neuborne calls it an "excessively lawyer-centric" strategy and says judges are extremely reluctant to award damages in such cases. Conservative legal experts like David Rifkin (who served in the Reagan and first Bush administrations) argue that no accounting is necessary, since the worst interrogation techniques, like waterboarding, have already been abandoned and Obama is expected to make further changes.
A growing group of advocates are now instead calling for a South African-style truth and reconciliation commission. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, says that although "we know what went on," "knowledge and a change in practices are not sufficient: there must be acknowledgment and repudiation as well." He favors the creation of a nonpartisan commission of inquiry with a professional staff and subpoena power, calling it "the only way to definitively repudiate this ugly chapter in
But for those interested in tougher sanctions, one other possibility looms. Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and author of "The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld," points out that over 20 countries now have universal jurisdiction laws that would allow them to indict U.S. officials for torture if America doesn't do it itself. A few such cases were attempted in recent years but were dropped, reportedly under
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs