For years, it hasn’t mattered one bit that federal law outlaws torture of exactly the sort carried out by the Bush administration. It hasn’t mattered because impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors has been “taken off the table” by timid Congressional leaders. It hasn’t mattered because the Department of Justice under George W. Bush was drained of its independence and converted into a political tool. Without the possibility of impeachment and without the possibility of prosecution, the Bush administration could carry on its program of torture with impunity.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama declared his intention to see torturers, their bosses who supervised torture, and the politicians who ordered torture go unprosecuted for their criminal activity. Taking the Bush years as precedent, I sincerely imagined that would be the end of it. So how refreshing to find out that the Department of Justice, operating independently of Barack Obama, has recommended to Attorney General Eric Holder that prosecutions for the federal crime of torture be reopened. It appears that Attorney General Holder will follow their lead.
This is how an independent body is supposed to behave.