Prosecute torture agents and authorizers

The decision to exonerate Bush officials sets a troubling precedent.

President Barack ObamaâÄôs condemnation of torture has proven only rhetorical so far. While ObamaâÄôs insistence on making the torture memos public sends an acknowledgment of culpability to the rest of the world, he did not go far enough. He has stated that he will not prosecute these interrogators, which may be setting a chilling precedent. Obama ran for president on the notion that he would bring a new sense of accountability absent from the federal government under George W. Bush, and, for the most part, he has delivered. Yet, he voted in favor of a Bush-sponsored bill granting immunity to telecom companies that engaged in wiretap programs to spy on U.S. citizens in the name of national security. In justifying his decision not to prosecute CIA agents involved in torture, or those that crafted the memos, Obama stated a desire to âÄúmove forward, as opposed to looking back.âÄù But saying youâÄôre ready to move on from something like this does little to nothing in terms of preventing egregious policy such as this from happening again. When Germany was defeated in World War I, after reparations were established, the world looked away from their suddenly tumultuous political climate. We all know who came to power 15 years later. Nazi soldiers decided dissent was not worth the price of execution. CIA interrogators might have lost their jobs for refusing to help Bush play Jack Bauer, but that involved a decision of morality, far from a death wish. Unless the president decides to change his mind, this decision creates a potentially terrifying precedent. We have to look forward, but not at the expense of learning from and correcting our mistakes. Otherwise, history is bound to repeat itself. This column, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Rocky Mountain Collegian at Colorado State University. Please send comments to [email protected]