War Crimes Are So Awkward

What might be the weirdest element of this whole presidential transition is the fact that the outgoing administration is guilty of war crimes.  To put it in brief, the Bush Justice Department, under Alberto Gonzales especially, acted as a political arm of the White House used to pressure political enemies and write legal opinions creating an ‘extralegal’ space where the President, as ‘Decider’ in the ‘unitary Executive,’ can breach law and justice to pursue policies such as torture and indefinite detentions without charge. Oh yeah, they also started a war with a fraudulent casus belli and colluded with any war profiteer with the name “Cheney” in his rolodex.

The Obama soon-to-be-Administration is not planning to initiate criminal prosecutions but does want to create a bipartisan Commission to dredge up all the gory details of the post-9/11 psychosadism freakout, like the Warren Commission or the 9/11 Commission.  Some bloggers are concerned that Obama is sacrificing justice for political convenience, since any prosecutions would destroy all chances of bipartisanship for this next election cycle.  Matt Yglesias has more on the long-term options for enacting justice without causing a government breakdown.

Meanwhile, the same factions sweating Obama about prosecuting were sweating Bush about pardons.  Yes, the odd and arbitrary pardoning power that Presidents love to use to bail out sketchy friends at the end of their time in office is now in the hands of Dubya.  But as the WSJ informs us, Bush doesn’t think he needs to pardon any war criminals because he had the Justice Department write up all those nice memos saying that these guys weren’t criminals at all.

So let’s all make like Elmer Fudd and be vewy vewy quiet until Obama is in office and can make some moves. When the Commission or whatever wraps up and produces its report, the facts will come to light, you will learn of the nightmarish depravities your taxes funded while you were spending money to see Hostel, you will feel terrible about years of unearned consumerist decadence, and THEN it will be the time we howl for justice.


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