May 21 2009
One of the president’s most basic duties is to uphold the laws of the land, laws that include those codified in international treaties to which the United States is signatory. Upholding and enforcing the laws requires investigating those suspected of crimes, indicting them if evidence warrants, and punishing them if found guilty in a fair courtroom.
Those who tortured – from the planning to the approval to the implementation – violated the law. Laws, and by extension the rights our laws both represent and protect, are only as good as their enforcement.
While the President has thus far done much to reverse the policies and precedents of his predecessor, and while in his speech today he perhaps for the first time gave some encouraging signs, he has not thus far made enforcing the law a priority in the case of torture, which is a war crime. Any failure to prosecute war criminals undermines the rights we all enjoy.