At first, President Obama said that he was not interested in digging into the past, that we should move on. He has since changed his mind, which he is allowed to do, and has said that the Department of Justice, and/or Congress, should move forward with an investigation of the memo to find out if there is cause for charges to be filed.
This morning Mark Karlin at Buzz Flash has an editorial posted on why Bush, Cheney, Gonzales should be prosecuted for not only the illegal torture that was commited, but also for war crimes and murder.
[We] fully supports trying Bush, Cheney, and their band of fellow sadists for war crimes, but while they are in the courtroom, let's not forget Murder One. Apparently, many in the mainstream press and blogosphere already have.
The focus right now is on legal memos justifying the horrifying and numbing repetition of torture against "high profile" targets. We have a short memory in America -- and most of what was in these memos -- except for the diabolical excess of the waterboarding and the medieval torture by insects -- was, as President Obama has said, pretty much already known.
Also known, but not discussed at this time, is that less upper echelon Al-Qaeda figures were murdered as a result of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld torture jihad (euphemestically called in the mainstream corporate press "harsh" or "enhanced interrogation").
....remember those photos of bludgeoned prisoners in body bags that came out of Abu Ghraib? (And we still have only seen a small portion of the visual evidence.) Those people were murdered as a result of the green light on torture. Even the Pentagon has declared some of the Guantanamo dead were victims of homicide. Then there are many "renditioned" individuals who disappeared into torture prisons around the world and have never reappeared.
In 2008, Lawrence Wilkerson.....testified before Congress that a minimum of 25 people died in U.S. detention as a result of homicide...
.....other estimates put the figure much, much higher -- and that doesn't include the prisoners who were sent to "black holes" and never reappeared. It doesn't include the hundreds of Taliban prisoners who were transported to a remote spot in Afghanistan (shortly after the U.S. invasion) and machine gunned to death in container tracks by Afghan soldiers with a green light from Rumsfeld.
The number of people murdered during torture ("harsh interrogation") will likely never be known, but as a governor in Texas, George W. Bush executed the highest number of people for far fewer murders each. Some of them just killed one person, unlike Bush, Cheney and their crew of arm chair executioners.
If there is an Anne Frank who symbolizes the horrific death that befell those who fell into the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld torture machine, it is the innocent Afghan whose story of being murdered while mistakenly incarcerated and tortured was compellingly detailed in the 2008 Academy Award winning Alex Gibney documentary "Taxi To the Dark Side."
Some background on "Taxi to the Dark Side" reveals, once again, that we should be concentrating both on War Crimes and Murder One when it comes to pursuing charges against Bush Administration officials:
In December 2002, Dilawar, a young rural Afghan cabdriver, was accused of helping to plan a rocket attack on a U.S. base, clamped into prison at Bagram, and subjected to physical torture so relentless that he died after two days of it. But Dilawar was innocent--and he'd been denounced by the real culprit, who thereby took the heat off himself and won points with U.S. forces by giving them "a bad guy." Dilawar was the first fatal victim of Vice President Dick Cheney's devotion to "working the dark side"--torturing, humiliating, and otherwise abusing prisoners in the "Global War on Terror." His story, developed in horrific detail with testimony from the soldiers who tortured him, and also from two New York Times investigative reporters, becomes a prism for slanting light onto the "dark side" policy and the mindset behind it. The program at Bagram was deemed such a success that it served as the model for Abu Ghraib the following year in Iraq, and both prisons became pipelines to the detainee facility at Guantánamo, Cuba.
Even for progessives, the news cycle has been shortened to a nano-second; and right now the focus is on the legalese used in the just-released memos to justify torture. And the Bush defenders are countering with an allegation that the torture of two or three suspects produced important information (which thus far has not been proven by any facts).
But in some ways, the focus on two or three Al Qaeda leaders has taken attention away from an organized system of torture that resulted in untold deaths, also known as murder.
For these murders, George W. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld -- who have always had a mean streak of sadism running through their blood, as they micro-managed torture and personally reviewed torture tapes -- should be charged and tried for War Crimes -- and Murder One.
Out of such trials, perhaps the truth will be revealed about the number of detainees who died under "harsh interrogation," as did the innocent taxi driver from rural Afghanistan who was pulverized to death in a matter of just two days at Bagram.
If we do not bring justice to their deaths, who will?