Torture: Will no one be held accountable?
On the off chance that you missed it, I want to repeat yesterday’s news from the Washington Post. A Bush administration official finally has said yes, terror suspects were tortured:
‘We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,’ said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. ‘His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case’ for prosecution.
Crawford, a judge, is the person who decides whether Guantanamo detainees will stand trial for their alleged offenses. Her conclusion in Qahtani’s case was that he was tortured, and because he was tortured he could not be tried for his alleged plan to be the 20th hijacker on 9/11.
Finally someone in the administration has defined a detainee’s interrogation as “torture.” Not a pundit, not a critic, not some Democrat running for office or trying to score points. Crawford is the Bush administration’s appointee given the specific responsibility of deciding how to deal with the detainees, and this is her conclusion re Qahtani.
It was bad enough that the administration authorized the use of torture, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, all the while denying they were doing so and knowing torture does not get reliable information from a prisoner. Now, apparently, those prisoners who were tortured can never be tried for crimes they might have committed.
Are the individuals who conceived and instigated this entire debacle just going to wash their hands on January 20th and ride off into the sunset? Will they, much like those they tortured, never be held accountable for what they did?
I have no words for the anger I feel about what this administration has done, and I’m deeply saddened to think that our new president, in his efforts to heal this nation and move forward, may decide it’s best to let Bush, Cheney & Company slip quietly out of Washington — to ponder their “disappointments” in private, answerable to no one but themselves.