No Pursuit of Justice

Reading this article about the Obama administration’s decision not to pursue the Bush administration’s government lawyers who wrote the CIA “torture memos” or those officials who participated in carrying out those acts is, in my mind, a terrible failure for the new president. While I can appreciate that the man has his hands more than a little full – a massive global recession, climbing rates of unemployment, the near-collapse of our financial system, America’s auto industry teetering on the brink, a health care system that is corrupt and broken, and a very angry Mother Nature…well, that’s a lot for a new politician to address before he’s even up to his first 100 days in office. However, I don’t believe that the egregious measures taken in these “CIA prisons” like Bagram in Afghanistan are any less worthy of outrage, revulsion, or proper justice than those acts committed by military personnel at Abu Ghraib.

The example given in the article, Lynndie England, was dishonorably discharged after her part in the humiliation practices at Abu Ghraib was confirmed and served a year and a half in a military prison and the same amount of time on probation; of course, she was not the only individual in those involved to serve time, others did as well. It is not that I don’t believe that they should have their dishonorable discharges reversed, or that I think it is unfair they had to serve time in prison, what I believe is not only unfair and unjust is to only punish those who were lowest on the military food chain. Sure, these acts were not explicitly ordered nor was she ‘forced’ to commit them; however, the implied notion was that these practices were not just allowed or condoned, but encouraged. To punish the “underlings” but not to insist that the actions of those higher up, or those who were instructing, ordering, or actively encouraging these actions be held responsible for their grossly reprehensible behavior. No one should be above the law, national or international law – if certain persons can get off with not even a slap on the wrist just because of their privileged positions, then what point is there in making laws to abide?

It saddens and angers me that we have not reached a point where we are willing to prosecute and sentence those who commit horrible crimes just because they are in an elite and privileged position of power.

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