Thursday, April 30, 2009

Question Dodged

Last night's 100-days* press conference included this statement by President Obama:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. You've said in the past that waterboarding, in your opinion, is torture. Torture is a violation of international law and the Geneva conventions. Do you believe that the previous administration sanctioned torture?

THE PRESIDENT: What I've said -- and I will repeat -- is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture. I don't think that's just my opinion; that's the opinion of many who've examined the topic. ... I believe that waterboarding was torture.
The reporter was too much the sycophant to pose the real question lurking in the one he posed, namely: if torture is illegal under domestic and international law, and if waterboarding is torture, then didn't a serious crime occur? And if a serious crime occurred, shouldn't a competent legal tribunal consider all the facts and legal arguments, and assess the question of guilt or innocence?

I see three alternatives open to President Obama, and I would like to see a reporter with the courage to put forward the question:
  • Does the president intend to pardon those who sanctioned torture?
  • Does the president intend to to ignore the laws against torture?
  • Does the president intend, via the office of Attorney General, to initiate a formal legal investigation?
To date, President Obama's statements suggest the second option, which is unacceptable under our system of government.

Glennzilla has more on these topics.

* A Hallmark Holiday of presidential politics if there ever was one.

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