Monday, January 12, 2009

Barack Obama: It's OK to violate human rights

President-elect Obama has signaled his reluctance to investigate the policies of his predecessor that relate to allowing torture, domestic spying and other police state-type activity.

An investigation and prosecutions would trigger a severe backlash from the intelligence community in the US. Make no mistake, there are people out there who want to do the US a great deal of harm. The intelligence services are critical to defending the national security.

However, at the end of the day, human rights were violated. Sometimes, they were grossly violated.

“A new president doesn’t want to look vengeful,” said a former Bush White House lawyer, Bradford A. Berenson, who was a Harvard law classmate of Mr. Obama and has represented administration figures as a private lawyer, “and the last thing a new administration wants to do is spend its time and energy rehashing the perceived sins of the old one.

“No matter how much the Obama administration’s most extreme supporters may be screaming for blood, the president himself doesn’t seem to share that bloodlust.”

What is wrong with this guy? Is this what the United States has come to? The law and order types shriek for accountability. The anti drug crusaders want people imprisoned for possessing marijuana. By that standard, the crimes of the Bush administration deserve life in prison.

If the United States does not hold its people to account for violating human rights, then someday, God will surely hold the United States to account. The least that is required is a South Africa style truth and reconciliation commission. That, surely, will be less painful in the long run.

Edit: in many ways, it looks like the US is overly soft on a number of categories of white collar crime - Bernard Madoff, the infamous swindler who cheated investors of up to $50 billion in a Ponzi scheme did not have his bail revoked despite having tried to protect some of his assets from government seizure. Madoff had mailed a number of valuable personal items to family. That's remarkably lax.

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