The president of the ACLu wants Obama to pardon the torturers

The president of the ACLU wants Obama to pardon the torturers

by digby

And it makes some sad sense:
BEFORE President George W. Bush left office, a group of conservatives lobbied the White House to grant pardons to the officials who had planned and authorized the United States torture program. My organization, the American Civil Liberties Union, found the proposal repugnant. Along with eight other human rights groups, we sent a letter to Mr. Bush arguing that granting pardons would undermine the rule of law and prevent Americans from learning what had been done in their names.

But with the impending release of the report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I have come to think that President Obama should issue pardons, after all — because it may be the only way to establish, once and for all, that torture is illegal.

That officials at the highest levels of government authorized and ordered torture is not in dispute. Mr. Bush issued a secret order authorizing the C.I.A. to build secret prisons overseas. The C.I.A. requested authority to torture prisoners in those “black sites.” The National Security Council approved the request. And the Justice Department drafted memos providing the brutal program with a veneer of legality.
Why a pardon though? Well, sadly, because it's too late for anything else:
My organization and others have spent 13 years arguing for accountability for these crimes. We have called for the appointment of a special prosecutor or the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, or both. But those calls have gone unheeded. And now, many of those responsible for torture can’t be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has run out.[...]
The spectacle of the president’s granting pardons to torturers still makes my stomach turn. But doing so may be the only way to ensure that the American government never tortures again. Pardons would make clear that crimes were committed; that the individuals who authorized and committed torture were indeed criminals; and that future architects and perpetrators of torture should beware. Prosecutions would be preferable, but pardons may be the only viable and lasting way to close the Pandora’s box of torture once and for all.
President Obama will not do this, I'm sure. It would open the door for some successor to "pardon" him to make a political point. But it's a very potent statement anyway: the only way we can even acknowledge that a crime was committed is to pardon the people who committed it after the statute of limitations has run out.

And I'm afraid I don't see that it would close the Pandora's box of torture. The minute they get the chance the torture advocates will simply make it legal. The taboo has been broken and banking on the law is a losing propositions in these situations. This is now a cultural problem more than a legal problem.

Back in the day the conservatives all used to wring their hands over what was happening in Bill Clinton's pants, asking the plaintive question, "what can we tell the children?" Sex is always a dicey thing to talk about with kids and I'm sure there were some uncomfortable moments around American dinner tables. What else is new?

But what in the hell do you tell your kids about torture? That some people think the "effective way to get to the truth"? That they shouldn't swing the cat around by the tail but in the hands of trained investigators it's ok? This was never a hard question before. Torture was never ok, always wrong, you simply cannot do it ever. That's not true anymore. Leaders in our country, very important people, are now saying that torture is not immoral. We're going backwards.