Sunday, April 19, 2009

Justice for Torturers

"To read the four newly released memos on prisoner interrogation written by George W. Bush’s Justice Department is to take a journey into depravity." Thus begins the lead editorial in today's New York Times.

The Times points out that the memos "were written to provide legal immunity for acts that are clearly illegal, immoral and a violation of this country’s most basic values." If the values they violate are to be vindicated, those who wrote the memos--including one attorney appointed to the federal bench by Bush--must be punished. Thus the Times calls--appropriately--for the impeachment of Jay Bybee.

On Thursday, Amnesty International executive director Larry Cox said, "The president said today that this is 'a time for reflection not retribution.' The United States has had plenty of time for reflection--there is very little information in the newly released material that hadn't leaked out long before. He also said that the United States is a nation of laws. But laws only have meaning if they are enforced."

The United States has often called for justice for torturers in other countries. An important test of our integrity as a nation is now upon us as we determine whether we are willing to pursue justice for torturers at home.