I think this nation is about to be confronted with a question that will roil the populace. Is the United States really a part of the global community, or are we a country apart with a different set of standards to be applied to it?
I am reading through the memoranda from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel right now, but I have also been reading about the reactions to the release of these memoranda, that seem, so far, to provide "legal" justification for torture. BHO has said that he did not think that those CIA members who carried out the "enhanced" interrogation tactics should be subject to prosecution. However, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, begs to differ. According to Nowak, the United States is required to investigate and prosecute when torture claims have been made, and possibly can be found to be true.
That is what prompted my question. I think that there are many, regardless of party, who see the United States as a nation apart, a nation that needn't follow the rules of international law. Yet, these same folks, the many, would have no problem leveling judgment, if these things referred to another country. I believe that we are part of a broader global community, and the moment we signed various treaties, and agreed that those treaties had provisions that also became the law of our land, we affirmed our place within that global community.
It is becoming clearer that torture was done in our name. Torture, however, is illegal. Period. It is our responsibility, as both citizens of the United States, and citizens of the world, to investigate and prosecute, when necessary, anyone who has violated the law. We have an opportunity to restore our moral authority, so sadly shunted to the wayside by the previous administration.
I believe that if we attempt to do what is right and just on this issue of investigating and prosecuting all tied to this issue of torture, the political right will lose its mind. If this had happened under a Democratic administration, the drumbeat from the right for investigations and prosecutions would be like the eerie heartbeat under the floorboards that Poe made famous. That heartbeat needs to be heard by all in political Washington, until they are driven to do what is morally right. Then, and only then, can we re-join, with moral authority restored, the global community where we rightly belong.