More on torture, from TPM Reader PB:
I think something else tends to get lost in the current arguments about torture. The whole issue has been framed as “moving forward” and looking to the future (good) versus doling out “retribution” and dwelling on the past (bad). This is not merely the Republican framing of the issue, as Obama and many Democrats seem to have accepted this framework.
But this framing is entirely wrong. A better way to look at is that we can either choose to do something about the fact people were tortured by the United States government, or we can choose to ignore it. Either outcome will have a profound effect on what happens in this country “moving forward.”
Choosing to ignore profound and systematic violations of international law creates a bad precedent that can (and no doubt will) be followed by future administrations. The current administration might be inclined to have a “no torture” policy, but the next one might think more like the Bush Administration. What expectation would members of future administrations have of being prosecuted for violating the law if we don’t hold the past one accountable?
In many ways the decision to “move forward” and pardon Nixon set the stage for Iran-Contra and the Bush administration’s myriad law breaking. What future horrors will ignoring the fact that the Bush administration codified torture as a “legal” interrogation technique set the stage for? This is not a can that can be kicked down the road because we have other problems we have to deal with. But no matter what we do now, this is about what might happen in the future as much as it is about what did happen in the past.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.