The first, endorsed by a row of respectable NGOs, calls for a ‘Independent Commission’ along the lines of the 9-11 Commission, has this legal hook: ‘recommend measures that would prevent any future abuses’:
It does not propose immunity for those who testify, the essence of a ‘truth commission.’ Were it to be chaired by respectable figures who are not tarnished by contradictory statements on briefings given to Congress or a demonstrable role during the Clinton Administration in illegal renditions, it does not appear to me to be incompatible with a call for a special prosecutor.
The second, by progressive Democrats, calls for a Special Prosecutor to ‘investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in torture and other war crimes’ It written largely in parallel with the indictment being formulated in Spain and focusing on the US Department of Justice and Gitmo. It admittedly is complicated with the extraordinarily broad expression ‘participated in’:
The latter is part of a strong effort on the part of ‘democrats.com’ to keep AG Holder attentive as he prepares to release the Office of Professional Responsibility report, but seems to have a wording which defeats its purpose. The problem with this ‘scandal’ and its ‘cover-up’ is that the congressional leadership of the oppositional political party are implicated in the cover-up. This of course is not new news. It was all covered above the fold in the Washington Post in the days after the original destruction of the CIA torture tapes was reported in December 2007. Former national security advisor Rice is on record claiming she did not ‘authorize’ water-boarding, and the present leader of the Democrats in Congress, Nancy Pelosi, cannot come up with one hand written note illustrating her disagreement with the Bush administration on its torture program despite regularly raking in 70-80 percent of the electorate in her north San Francisco congressional district.
Despite the ruckus over the New York Times and its complicated relationship to using the word ‘torture’, it seems that the best term in general regarding this issue is the one they chose: ‘held accountable.’ This is the title proposed for the commission in the first petition, though that name does not appear in the petition text.
The Washington Post, it is completely craven fashion, is willing to use the word ‘torture’ in its editorials, but since it is systematically on record for opposition legal remedies across the board for those who tortured, the intent of the paper is close to that of President Bush and the application of the word ‘genocide’ to the Darfur situation. The WaPo simply prostitutes the ‘t’ word along the model of Bush’s prostitution of the ‘g’ word. In this sense those who are committed, like the editorial board of the WaPo, to prosecuting a global war on terrorism, are hardly more coherent than the critics of ‘ethnic cleansing’ during the Balkan conflict who were themselves proponents of one or more national-cultural interest in that conflict.