Saturday, April 25, 2009

Patriotism, Not Vengeance

To David Broder, columnist for the Washington Post.

Dear Mr. Broder,

Coming right to the point, you are misrepresenting the rationale for investigating possible war crimes by officers of the previous administration.

You claim that all we want, deep down, is vengeance, but you are wrong. I want to know, first of all, whether any laws were actually broken. I suspect there were, but this is not something I know as a fact yet. That is why we have processes in place to investigate our leaders and those who work for them.

If, and only if, our laws were broken, I believe those laws should be enforced. Don't you? If, and only if, war crimes were committed, then yes, we should prosecute them. In fact, we are obligated to do so by our own laws and by international treaties to which we are a party. In fact, those treaties obligate us to investigate the matter.

Let me ask you, sir: if we fail to follow up on credible evidence of war crimes, what kind of country does that make us?

It is not a desire for vengeance, Mr. Broder, but a desire for justice, for our laws to mean something, for our principles to guide our actions, and for our words to matter.

That isn't vengeance.

1 comment:

quid said...

Andrew Sullivan mirrors my own thoughts:

"The precedent of a torturing American president must be reversed. That means it cannot be allowed to stand.

There is no way the American experiment can continue while legal and historical precedent gives the president the inherent authority to torture. It is the undoing of the core idea of the founding - protection against arbitrary, lawless, cruel and despotic rule. And the impact on the entire world of America allowing this to stand would be profound. The world looks here for moral leadership. Those who endure real political oppression, imprisonment, torture and abuse at the hands of despots look to America for leadership, for guidance, for hope. If America - America - discovers that its own president has illegally tortured and decides that it simply won't do anything about it, that it doesn't matter, that it's too polarizing to restore the rule of law ... then what hope do those people have? To whom will they look when they fight far more pervasive tyranny, buttressed by the same absolute power to coerce the truth and break the human soul?

We don't want vengeance. We want America back. And we are going to fight on and on until we get it back."