In a scathing editorial, The New York Times took on the CIA torture program and, essentially, the architects behind it, which the NYT Editorial Board feels should be prosecuted. We agree.
The NYT article noted that President Barack Obama has not lifted a finger to pursue charges against or prosecute any individual or group involved in illegal torture. Back in 2009, Obama first announced the he would not pursue such prosecution, saying that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”
However, the NYT asserted that “The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a patina of legality, and committed by American men and women form the highest levels of government on down.”
In short, it’s a specifically-focused iteration of the adage that “if we don’t learn from history, we’re doomed to repeat it.” It’s imperative to address the past. Doing such allows us to learn the mistakes of past actions in order to prepare and prevent a similar future. However, Obama is merely enabling the torture program, so what about those who are actually responsible for it?
The NYT said that “any credible investigation should include Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former CIA director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee.” These men were the original brains and nerve center of today’s torture program. They were the guys who formulated it, searched for ways to give torture some opaque semblance of legality, and implemented it.
Yoo and Bybee were lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel who wrote the memos that government officials would use as (flimsy) legal standing that the torture program was allowed. The memos are little more than an abuse of semantics and legalese mumbo jumbo.
The torture program was illegal; it was a crime. It was a crime outlawed by federal law and the Convention Against Torture, which the United States ratified in 1994, the NYT noted. These men need to be prosecuted for the human rights abuses culminated by the torture program.