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Torture Crimes to be Referred for Prosecution? Be Still Me Beating Heart!


Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Armed Services Committee was on Rachel Maddow Thursday night. Our own intrepid commentor, Sunshine, wrote up a transcript. Senator Levin had a few things to say that MAKE A LOT OF SENSE [sorry for shouting], and some others that give me a kernel of hope for the future.

Rachel: One of the things that I think has been so I guess challenging to the American debate about this is that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have essentially argued that they have legalized waterboarding, that they have legalized torture. They think the actions of their Justice Department made things like waterboarding not war crimes any more. Are they right?

Levin: You can’t just suddenly change some thing that’s illegal into something that is legal by having a lawyer writing an opinion saying that it’s legal. Things can’t work that way or else someone could get a lawyer and say a crime is not a crime and then that would be a defense. It is not a defense. And I was astounded frankly, when I heard the Vice President of the United States sort of just blandly and blindly saying that he thought that was appropriate thing and yes he was involved in discussions about it.

[emphasis added]

THANK YOU SENATOR LEVIN. In one salient sentence, Senator Levine has explained why all the twisted, convoluted, crappy Yoo memos in the world, no matter how high you pile them up, do NOT equal a "get out of jail free" card. Further, since almost nobody was allowed to actually see those memos, few people can advance any credible claim to have relied upon something they never read.

Even better, Senator Levin proposes outright an intention to turn over information which the Armed Services Committee apparently already has or believes it can get, to the Obama Justice Department for prosecution. You heard read it folks, referrals for prosecution. Woot!

What I think it is our role to do is to bring out the facts which we have, to state our conclusions which we have, which is where the origin of these techniques were began. And then to turn over to the Justice Dept. of the next administration cause clearly this Justice Dept is not willing to take an objective look and turn over to the next Justice Dept. all the facts that we can and we have put together and get our report, the rest of it, declassified.

But then it seems to me that it is appropriate for there to be an outside commission appointed to take this out of politics and it would have the clear subpoena authority to get to the parts of this which are not yet clear. And that is the role of the CIA. We looked at the roll of Dept. of Defense but the roll of the CIA has not yet been looked at. And let an outside commission reach the kind of conclusions which then may or may not lead to indictments or to civil action. But it is not our role it’s not appropriate for us to reach those kind of those kind of conclusions.

[emphasis added]

Nota bene, did you notice that Senator Levin wants an outside commission to perform, with respect to the CIA, the same sort of investigation that SAS did for the Armed Services? Is this a tacit acknowlegement that the Intelligence oversight committees (Gang of Eight?) may have a conflict of interest in conducting such an investigation?

Twenty-third in a series on torture and the law

[Editor’s note: This photo by takomabibelot features a banner created and designed by Firedoglake reader BonnieT of Austin, Texas, where she operates]

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