OT: Bravo for Tim Rutten [11:45 am]
Here you have a guy â€” Khalid Shaikh Mohammed â€” who has confessed to planning and directing the worst mass murder ever perpetrated on American soil and has admitted to personally murdering a U.S. citizen in what any reasonably aggressive American prosecutor would call a hate crime, and virtually nobody in the news media has called for putting the man on trial. Worse, virtually nobody has bothered to explain that the willfully erroneous way in which this administration has chosen to deal with the Al Qaeda prisoners from the outset has made it impossible to subject them to anything resembling the normative justice they so richly deserve.
Mohammed can’t be brought to trial because the White House had him tortured and, therefore, virtually none of what you read this week could be used against him in a legitimate court of law. In fact, who knows which parts of it are true, which parts of it were given simply to stop the water boarding â€” simulated drowning â€” to which he reportedly has been subjected, which parts are perverted bravado and which parts are an attempt to draw attention from other Al Qaeda killers still at large? In secret proceedings based on physical abuse, who knows?
But then, when it comes to this issue, the nation’s commentators and editorial pages have been derelict and complicit from the start. Their refusal to reject the White House’s various euphemisms for torture and evasions concerning the existence of a secret CIA prison system in which suspected terrorists and real terrorists, like Mohammed, have been tortured and held for years without lawyers or recourse to any legal process is a categorical failure of moral responsibility without recent precedent.
This institutional flight from responsibility stands in stark â€” and humiliating â€” contrast to the work of individual reporters at the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and other papers, who have risked prosecution â€” and, sometimes, their editors’ displeasure â€” to expose governmental abuses of human and civil rights in the “war on terror.”
[...] We rely on our military for defense. We do not ask it to dispense justice on our behalf anymore than we should ask soldiers and Marines to act as police officers. That’s why we have courts and cops, and why our laws and, more important, well-established political tradition draw a bright line between their function and that of the armed forces.
We do not refrain from torturing criminals such as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed out of some misplaced fellow feeling for them, but out of respect for ourselves.
The general failure of the American media to note and defend those principles is something for which they ought to be held to account.