Robert Parry: Bush and his Cronies, Bear Ultimate Responsibility for Torture!
So what is stopping us from prosecuting them? Now that a bipartisan blue-ribbon panel has reached the conclusion that President George W. Bush and his top advisers bear ultimate responsibility for authorizing torture in violation of domestic and international law, the question becomes, what should the American people and their government do. The logical answer would seem to be: Prosecute Bush and his cronies, or turn them over to an international tribunal, if the US legal system can't do the job. After all, everyone, including President Barack Obama, and possibly even Bush himself, would agree with the principle that no man is above the law. At least that is what they profess in public, but they then apply this principle selectively, proving that they don't really mean it at all. The real world standard seems to be: You are above the law, if you have the political or economic clout, to make prosecution difficult or painful. Then, more flexible rules apply. For instance, we are told that Pvt. Bradley Manning may have had good intentions, in exposing US government wrongdoings to Wiki-Leaks, but he still must be punished for taking the law into his own hands. The only question seems to be, whether he should be imprisoned for 20 years or life. Even the US soldiers at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, who imitated the abusive techniques that Bush and his advisers authorized in more limited situations had to face justice. Eleven were convicted at court martial, and two enlisted personnel, Charles Graner and Lynndie England, were sentenced to ten and three years in prison, respectively. A few higher level officers had their military careers derailed. But the buck pretty much stopped there. It surely did not extend up to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, Vice President Dick Cheney and President Bush. They simply engaged in a game of circular excuse making, claiming that they had relied on Justice Department legal guidance, and thus their own criminal actions were not criminal at all. Yet, along with its judgments about torture, the 577 page report from the Constitution Project, obliterated that line of defense, by detailing how the Bush administration's lawyers offered up acrobatic legal opinions to justify the brutal interrogations, which included water-boarding, sleep deprivation, stress position, forced nudity and other acts constituting torture.