Hindsight is 20/20 but only if you care to look. If doubts existed before, the discourse in the 2016 Republican Primary serves as a experiential referendum on the depth of the failure of the Obama administration’s choice to not push the justice department to prosecute the Bush/Cheney administration for crimes of terrorism and torture.
It’s as if the Republican Primaries are being held in a private room with the candidates only talking to themselves. Each trying to out alpha the other in successive levels of buffoonish extremity. It’s worrying as a citizen of this nation to see shiny people in expensive suits under the banner of a major party, shake and flail about on stage completely untethered to facts, history, or reality. It’s outright frightening, morally and politically, when the debate of the front runners involve ‘carpet bombing’ populations, wanton murder of civilians, and an expansion of the Bush/Cheney torture program. Compound this with half the public being all right with torture. Another half believing intentionally targeting civilians in military attacks are “sometimes justified”.
You’d think terrorism and torture were not illegal; domestically and internationally. Would this thirst exist if the criminality of taking a sip had been addressed with the severity earned? To put it in perspective, the Bush administration lied America into a war that killed 500,000 Iraqis and cost several trillion dollars. In pursuant to this act of terrorism (by definition), the administration instituted a torture program. Even if partisan quibbles still exist on whether attacking a foreign population for political concessions is terrorism, Bush himself has admitted to green lighting torture.
In 2008, when asked if he would push the Justice Department to open an investigation into the abuses of the Bush administration, candidate Obama was hesitant but noted if crimes were committed, he’d pursue justice.
What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that’s already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. I can’t prejudge that because we don’t have access to all the material right now. I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated.
In 2014, now President, and fully aware of Bush’s ghastly policies, Obama gave a folksy address that can best be summed with his quote, “we tortured some folks.” A stark, if not obvious, admission of our guilt. Not to mention, at this point it was also painfully obvious that the case for war concocted by the Bush regime was largely built on a house of lies. It didn’t matter. Integrity mattered less than political expedience, and the white washing of American recent history was in full swing.
Questions of investigations into the potential crimes of the previous administration were met with the short refrain “we must look forward, not backward”. In April 2009, president Obama stated “Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past”. This is a strange position seeing as all across the country at the exact same time, the same U.S. government was prosecuting and imprisoning people who would’ve loved for the same discretion. More importantly though, the president’s position is just wrong. It completely undermines the quality of law that seeks to discourage repetition of the offending behavior.
This brings us to our current dilemma. While the president was looking forward, the party opposite never averted its gaze off the failures of the past. If anything, they’ve decided on more blood and torture. Political expedience is not without karma. The most immediate problem being a collective refusal of either party to apply consequences to egregious applications of presidential muscle, and a clown car full of candidates in the Republican Primary that are aware of this, and subsequently are chomping at the bit for the chance to flex.