17 days in and Obama administration throws in the towel on torture

So much for “change we can believe in.” Torturers will not be punished by the American government, and that means that those who ordered them to do so cannot be held accountable, unless the World Court does the job.

Today in his hearing for CIA director before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Leon Panetta, who supposedly was selected for the job because his hands were clean of evil Bush-era practices, sold his soul and eliminated the possibility of prosecuting those who tortured on Bush’s orders. Cernig at Crooks and Liars and Newshoggers explains why this action gives legal cover to Bush, Cheney and their top-level goons.

Worse, not prosecuting the torturers sets up a malicious feedback that fatally undermines prosecutions for ordering torture. If there’s no prosecution for commission of a crime, how can someone be prosecuted for ordering what is apparently admitted isn’t a crime? No defense lawyer is going to pass up such a gift argument and the Obama administration knows it. Not prosecuting those who tortured is a “get out of jail free card” not only for the torturers but for those who ordered torture and those who falsely said torture could ever be legal. It’s a travesty of justice and one that Chris Dodd has sadly admitted Democratic leaders have looked the other way on for purely political reasons.

But Panetta — and presumably his new boss Barack Obama — is willing to take their policies even further into Bush territory.

And with the news that Panetta wants to reserve the possibility of using “enhanced interrogation” techniques which go beyond the US military code – which in turn is simply a retelling of the Geneva Conventions and binding treaties on torture – along with the Obama administration’s complicity in shielding Bush officials from revelations of torture…well, my Newshoggers colleague Jay McDonough is correct. “We cannot, despite assurances otherwise, trust our government not to render and torture detainees.”

The chances of restoring the rule of law to this country anytime soon do not seem very likely. What a pathetic people we have become.