A blistering new editorial from The New York Times on Monday calls for President Barack Obama to prosecute the people involved in the torture program of terrorism suspects.
And the Times has a few specific names in mind: former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Cheney chief of staff David Addington, former CIA director George Tenet, and John Yoo, the DOJ lawyer who helped draft the memos authorizing the program, to name a few.
The editorial doesn’t hold back any punches. It criticizes Obama for not filing any charges following a previous Department of Justice investigation into the program. It then focuses on the recently released and much anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s torture program which recounted the gruesome methods the CIA used, such as rectal hydration and rectal feeding.
“These are, simply, crimes. They are prohibited by federal law, which defines torture as the intentional infliction of ‘severe physical or mental pain or suffering,'” the editorial said. “They are also banned by the Convention Against Torture, the international treaty that the United States ratified in 1994 and that requires prosecution of any acts of torture.”
The Senate intel report itself, the editorial said, included CIA officials admitting “that what they intended to do was illegal.”
CIA lawyers went to the Office of Legal Counsel to rationalize a legal basis for torture after going to the Justice Department and getting turned down for authorization to use “more aggressive methods,” the Times said.
“When the department refused, they shopped around for the answer they wanted,” the editorial continued. “They got it from the ideologically driven lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel, who wrote memos fabricating a legal foundation for the methods. Government officials now rely on the memos as proof that they sought and received legal clearance for their actions. But the report changes the game: We now know that this reliance was not made in good faith.”
So who would be held accountable, the editorial board asked, if Obama did order a new criminal investigation?
“Any credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos,” the editorial said.
This isn’t about revenge or any kind of “payback,” the editorial concluded.
Rather, the editorial board said, “it is about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments. Because of the Senate’s report, we now know the distance officials in the executive branch went to rationalize, and conceal, the crimes they wanted to commit. The question is whether the nation will stand by and allow the perpetrators of torture to have perpetual immunity for their actions.”
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