14 Reasons for Accountability

Below is a list of 14 reasons why I think it’s important to thoroughly investigate interrogation and detention practices and policies since 9/11/01 and to initiate criminal prosecutions where evidence is developed that warrants prosecution.

1.  President Obama has said he wants to look forward rather than backward.  This implies a false dichotomy between the two.  Without examining the past, we cannot fully understand how to ensure that whether the US government follows the law is not left up to the whim of the current occupant of the White House.  A thorough investigation will provide information needed to determine whether and which policy/regulatory/statutory changes are needed to prevent recurrences of bad practices.

2.  President Obama has also said that “no one is above the law.”  By failing to thoroughly investigate the practices of the last 8 years, he would be saying that, in fact, some people ARE above the law.

3.  The investigations that have been conducted by the Bush administration were inadequate.  They were all limited in scope and failed to look up the chain of command.

4.  A thorough investigation would restore the public’s trust by showing that the government is not trying to hide the facts.

5.  The government is legally required to prosecute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.  Failing to do so would, in and of itself, be unlawful.

6.  Real accountability demonstrates the government’s seriousness about changing course, as well as the seriousness with which the government views the offenses.

7.  It is a way of demonstrating support for rank-and-file soldiers by showing that no one is above the law and that scape-goating low-level soldiers is not acceptable.  Emphasizes that officers and civilian leaders who set policy are accountable for issuing clear and lawful orders to their subordinates.

8.  Will help restore the reputation and influence of the U.S. in the world.

9.  Assures other countries that U.S. speaks from a position of moral authority when asking them to respect the human rights of U.S. personnel.

10.  Those who suffered torture, cruel treatment, and arbitrary detention are entitled to see those responsible brought to justice, as part of their healing process.  They are also entitled to reparations, and those not guilty of any offenses are entitled to have their names cleared.  Justice can defuse anger of victims and those who might seek vengeance on their behalf.

11.  Without the threat of prosecution, perpetrators are unlikely to be forthcoming about their actions.  There is little evidence from the experience of other countries that offering pardons or amnesties motivates perpetrators to volunteer inculpatory information.

12.  Even many countries that initially granted amnesty for human rights crimes because they thought prosecutions would be too divisive subsequently revoked the amnesty (e.g., Argentina).

13.  Prosecutions are a way of affirming that the crimes prosecuted are an injury to society, not just to the individual victims.

14.  Investigations and criminal prosecutions, where warranted, can help deter future crimes.  Bush administration officials, including Vice President Cheney and CIA Director Hayden, continue to aggressively defend the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics.  If people with similar values and perspectives come to power again in the future, there is every reason to think they will resort to the same illegal practices, unless there are serious consequences for doing so.

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13 thoughts on “14 Reasons for Accountability

  1. Bravo. And we should also investigate/prosecute illegal detention and interrogation policies and practices in previous administrations, including Clinton's. The U.S. was using torture, ill-treatment, rendition and illegal detention before 9/11. I cringe when elsewhere Amnesty talks of "restoring" America's role as a leader of human rights. What, exactly, is the period you'd like to restore? I sense it's a rhetorical move, but I don't look to AI for rhetoric. Rather, let's talk about pushing the US to fully meet, for the first time, it's obligations–foregin and domestic–under international law and common sense morality. Regardless, thanks for a great post.

  2. Bravo. And we should also investigate/prosecute illegal detention and interrogation policies and practices in previous administrations, including Clinton’s. The U.S. was using torture, ill-treatment, rendition and illegal detention before 9/11. I cringe when elsewhere Amnesty talks of “restoring” America’s role as a leader of human rights. What, exactly, is the period you’d like to restore? I sense it’s a rhetorical move, but I don’t look to AI for rhetoric. Rather, let’s talk about pushing the US to fully meet, for the first time, it’s obligations–foregin and domestic–under international law and common sense morality. Regardless, thanks for a great post.

  3. Dear Friends : Are you serious ? Accountability ! WHAT ? I'm completely disgusted and totally turned OFF by My government Our Half Baked 100% Blind Deft and Dumb Law enforcement community , "all 20 Million of them " I have NO IDEA what any of them have been doing since 9/11 But It is painfully clear they DON'T CARE ! And are not interested in what took place on 9/11 because there was more going on within this country then "They hate us cause WERE FREE CRAP and if even One honest American can watch what took place on 9/11 then honestly feel down deep that some "Crazed Islamic Evil Doer's" Had even word One to do with anything 9/11 then you should go right to the Head of the Neo-Con class room and Help all of us stupid people understand how Kerosene was able to defy it's own basic laws of nature not to mention the Smack in the Face We recived by our Dear Friends at the Fair and Balanced Fox News company that played a CIA Leaked Blurred Clip of what any Normal American can obviously see is an AMG-65 Mavrick Or similiar Missle, Not to mention the total absence of a single Piece of Boeing 757 in on or around washington DC on 9/11 Period in fact I'll go one better and Call anyone who says differnt a Flat out Terrorist Liar !

  4. Well said Gay Gardner. Victims of oppression and acts of terrorism, including detainees in Guantanamo have a right to reparation and justice. And justice now needs to be seen to be done openly on the world stage. The hypocrisy of the Bush administration (and governments in Europe, my country Britain included) needs to be exposed for sanctioning unlawful, degrading and cruel interrogation techniques in the name of defence and 'freedom'; values which America and the 'free world' hold so dear. Those responsible for allowing abuse of human rights, no matter how high up in the administration or chain of command, must be brought to account, not for vengeance because that's the terrorist's way, but for justice, openness and in order to repair whatever reputation and credibility America formerly held. Government leaders who claim to promote democracy, liberty and justice, righteously condemn terror tactics in their enemies and then sink to a similar dirty level of terror tactics in interrogation and detention centres, Their hypocrisy would be ludicrous if the consequences were not so tragic and destructive. As a result of abuses at Guantanamo, who knows how many suicide bombers and terrorists are being 'nurtured' or are volunteering themselves as martyrs at this very moment. America's citizens need to challenge President Obama to stand up and be counted, to have the courage to hold people responsible for injustices and any abuses perpetrated, whoever they are, whatever status they hold or have held. Moreover, the world's citizens want more than a rhetoric of justice. Justice needs to be seen to be done.
    Look forward by examining past wrongs. Maybe then peace will stand a chance.

  5. Dear Friends : Are you serious ? Accountability ! WHAT ? I’m completely disgusted and totally turned OFF by My government Our Half Baked 100% Blind Deft and Dumb Law enforcement community , “all 20 Million of them ” I have NO IDEA what any of them have been doing since 9/11 But It is painfully clear they DON’T CARE ! And are not interested in what took place on 9/11 because there was more going on within this country then “They hate us cause WERE FREE CRAP and if even One honest American can watch what took place on 9/11 then honestly feel down deep that some “Crazed Islamic Evil Doer’s” Had even word One to do with anything 9/11 then you should go right to the Head of the Neo-Con class room and Help all of us stupid people understand how Kerosene was able to defy it’s own basic laws of nature not to mention the Smack in the Face We recived by our Dear Friends at the Fair and Balanced Fox News company that played a CIA Leaked Blurred Clip of what any Normal American can obviously see is an AMG-65 Mavrick Or similiar Missle, Not to mention the total absence of a single Piece of Boeing 757 in on or around washington DC on 9/11 Period in fact I’ll go one better and Call anyone who says differnt a Flat out Terrorist Liar !

  6. Seams like #15 might be "to insure that allegations are genuine investagations of actual intent or are not induced through ulterior fabracations and or geo politico machanation,desighned to control popular sentameint including daluded and or irration_ll error or baited unsubstanteated "phishing exspaditions worthy of civilized standard and i.repeat, not manufactured ?,so as to leave no lingering doubt,yet actually capable of reolution as not to lend itself to a repation of said malady aka unexceptable customs and or fair? norms that are based on defens`able princables in the end based and grounded in the governments body of concern,,,the public at large THE WHOLE THING has C-SPAN written all over it …to the living progression of a justice system(capable also again of other than "PAIN & PUNISHMENT yet health,the General Welfare of all mankind(even if their actually the Marines on the back side of the mOOn), capable of delivering truth and the pursuits commonly upheld and humanly defensable in full veiw of the light of "day for all and or any to particapate and further evolve and test under democratic revue if it is true that the bar of democracy is actually upheld,,,with faith under god even part of eschaloen or and command,etc,etc proceed ,continue and pulled together or of an available exspance further more and infinity if truelly sincere,that's something that might re-semble this concept FREEDOM we've heard of of late,i do declare~doalive,over PS an ongoing concept of every ones right to further and contribute with per ferabley a free willed mind AND OR consciosness,,,please feel free to further continue this line of reasoning and or path to a higher ? "hydroplane

  7. Whoo hides from the courage and braveries not in vain,IDentafie your self,do you really live in cavemans secret lair

  8. on the riduculous side,figure the impact and inflamatory nature of say a Judge Judy or hollywood such context or profile a kangaroo or circus of the theater absurd

  9. Well said Gay Gardner. Victims of oppression and acts of terrorism, including detainees in Guantanamo have a right to reparation and justice. And justice now needs to be seen to be done openly on the world stage. The hypocrisy of the Bush administration (and governments in Europe, my country Britain included) needs to be exposed for sanctioning unlawful, degrading and cruel interrogation techniques in the name of defence and ‘freedom’; values which America and the ‘free world’ hold so dear. Those responsible for allowing abuse of human rights, no matter how high up in the administration or chain of command, must be brought to account, not for vengeance because that’s the terrorist’s way, but for justice, openness and in order to repair whatever reputation and credibility America formerly held. Government leaders who claim to promote democracy, liberty and justice, righteously condemn terror tactics in their enemies and then sink to a similar dirty level of terror tactics in interrogation and detention centres, Their hypocrisy would be ludicrous if the consequences were not so tragic and destructive. As a result of abuses at Guantanamo, who knows how many suicide bombers and terrorists are being ‘nurtured’ or are volunteering themselves as martyrs at this very moment. America’s citizens need to challenge President Obama to stand up and be counted, to have the courage to hold people responsible for injustices and any abuses perpetrated, whoever they are, whatever status they hold or have held. Moreover, the world’s citizens want more than a rhetoric of justice. Justice needs to be seen to be done.
    Look forward by examining past wrongs. Maybe then peace will stand a chance.

  10. Pingback: Freed GTMO Detainee Becomes Al Qaeda Chief? Blame Bush (and Clinton). | Human Rights Now - Amnesty International USA Blog

  11. Seams like #15 might be “to insure that allegations are genuine investagations of actual intent or are not induced through ulterior fabracations and or geo politico machanation,desighned to control popular sentameint including daluded and or irration_ll error or baited unsubstanteated “phishing exspaditions worthy of civilized standard and i.repeat, not manufactured ?,so as to leave no lingering doubt,yet actually capable of reolution as not to lend itself to a repation of said malady aka unexceptable customs and or fair? norms that are based on defens`able princables in the end based and grounded in the governments body of concern,,,the public at large THE WHOLE THING has C-SPAN written all over it …to the living progression of a justice system(capable also again of other than “PAIN & PUNISHMENT yet health,the General Welfare of all mankind(even if their actually the Marines on the back side of the mOOn), capable of delivering truth and the pursuits commonly upheld and humanly defensable in full veiw of the light of “day for all and or any to particapate and further evolve and test under democratic revue if it is true that the bar of democracy is actually upheld,,,with faith under god even part of eschaloen or and command,etc,etc proceed ,continue and pulled together or of an available exspance further more and infinity if truelly sincere,that’s something that might re-semble this concept FREEDOM we’ve heard of of late,i do declare~doalive,over PS an ongoing concept of every ones right to further and contribute with per ferabley a free willed mind AND OR consciosness,,,please feel free to further continue this line of reasoning and or path to a higher ? “hydroplane

  12. Whoo hides from the courage and braveries not in vain,IDentafie your self,do you really live in cavemans secret lair

  13. on the riduculous side,figure the impact and inflamatory nature of say a Judge Judy or hollywood such context or profile a kangaroo or circus of the theater absurd