Who knew the candidate who campaigned on a promise of change would turn out to be such a spineless wimp?
I speak of the week’s news that President Obama has decided not to hold the Bush Administration and its coven of lawyers – Yoo, Bybee, Addington, Bradbury, Rizzo, Gonzales – will not, in fact, be held accountable for the crimes against humanity they committed during the so-called “war on terror”.
In a statement on Thursday, the President made this incomprehensible statement regarding accountability:
“This is a time for reflection, not retribution… nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”
This is not about retribution. It’s about justice. When we fail to hold those in positions of leadership accountable for their actions, we lose our moral legitemacy in the world. If we fail to prosecute Bush et al. for actions that Obama’s own justice department has acknowledged are, in fact, criminal in nature, then we are no better than the worst of our enemies.
In order to “more forward”, we must revisit the sins of the past and excise them. Now that we know more of the crimes committed by Bush, Cheney, Gonzales and their cronies, we must act swiftly and deliberately to hold them accountable.
Anything less is unacceptable. This is not about retribution. It’s about justice. They committed crimes; they MUST be held accountable.
Should we have “looked forward” after World War II and NOT held the Nazis accountable for their actions?
Should the Cambodians “look forward” and ignore the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge?
Should suffering Zimbabweans, if they ever pull out of the tyranny of Mugabe and ZANU-PF, “look forward” and not demand justice?
Should the long-suffering people of North Korea “look forward” and not demand justice if they ever emerge from their decades-long nightmare?
The souls of the dead cry out for justice, Mr. President. The tortured demand it in their screams. If you do not cleanse the stain of the Bush Administration from our national soul, then you are as guilty as they are. And worse, you will enable future tyrants and dictators here and abroad to “get away with it”.
Justice, Mr. President. That’s all we ask. Justice. It must be done, no matter how painful, difficult or embarrassing.