Held to Higher Standard
I am no particular fan of the previous administration, but I have no appetite for retribution. A hundred days into the new presidency, any day that I don't have to think about Dick Cheney is well spent. Besides, with so many pressing issues competing for our attention, wouldn't it just be easier to let bygones be bygones?
But we are compelled to investigate the actions of the Bush administration with regard to treatment of detainees and to go wherever the evidence leads us. We are compelled because we are taught early on that we are a nation of laws and no one is above the law.
That fundamental understanding requires that international law should apply to us so that we may rightly apply it to those with whom we find ourselves in conflict.
Fred Wolferman contends (May 1 column) that we shouldn't prosecute those responsible for allowing waterboarding because, "Everybody seems able to agree that torture is bad; they just can't define exactly what it is." Really, that's the easy part. If we would prosecute anyone who did it to our sons or daughters for war crimes, then it's torture.
This is not liberal naivet. I recognize that terrorists won't stop trying to kill us if we stop waterboarding, but that's not the point. The point is that we're not terrorists, we hold ourselves to a higher standard.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, " This is the standard that defines us, unique in all the world. It is an ideal paid for by this generation and those who preceded it in blood. We have a duty to honor that sacrifice. We are obligated to hold ourselves accountable.
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