Dark deeds have been conducted in the name of the United States government in recent years: the gruesome, late-night circus at Abu Ghraib, the beating to death of captives in Afghanistan, and the officially sanctioned waterboarding and brutalization of high-value Qaeda prisoners. Now demands are growing for senior administration officials to be held accountable and punished. Congressional liberals, human-rights groups and other activists are urging a criminal investigation into high-level "war crimes," including the Bush administration's approval of interrogation methods considered by many to be torture.
I would think: we are a nation of laws. The accused will no doubt have better legal representation than their alleged victims (someone said something like that once–who was it?), but they'll still have to answer for their deeds. That's what I would say. Here's what the author said:
It's a bad idea. In fact, President George W. Bush ought to pardon any official from cabinet secretary on down who might plausibly face prosecution for interrogation methods approved by administration lawyers. (It would be unseemly for Bush to pardon Vice President Dick Cheney or himself, but the next president wouldn't allow them to be prosecuted anyway—galling as that may be to critics.) The reason for pardons is simple: what this country needs most is a full and true accounting of what took place. The incoming president should convene a truth commission, with subpoena power, to explore every possible misdeed and derive lessons from it. But this should not be a criminal investigation, which would only force officials to hire lawyers and batten down the hatches.
Couldn't this be said about any criminal act? What the family needs is a full accounting of what happened–outside of the Rashomon-like perspectivism of a criminal trial–so let's grant the accused immunity and just hear about how he went about his crimes.
Of course that's nonsense not worthy of the most motivated high school debate student. People will continue to lie to protect their reputations–even when nothing is at stake. Criminal trials don't really produce truth anyway, they produce, maybe sometimes, justice.