THE BLOG

Bush's Tortured Legacy

04/30/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • James Zogby President, Arab American Institute; author, 'Arab Voices'

Stories on the Bush Administration's use of torture in Sunday's New York Times ("Spanish Court Weighs Criminal Inquiry on Torture for 6 Bush-era Officials" ) and Washington Post ("Detainee's Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots") raise several issues worth noting.

Despite Cheney's stubborn insistence that information obtained from tortured detainees stopped "a great many" terrorist attacks, he will present no evidence to back up that assertion (not even in a classified setting to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, responsible for oversight in this matter). Because he has so often stretched the truth and fudged facts, Cheney's word alone is not enough. In fact, the weight of credible evidence leads to the opposite conclusion: that "tortured testimony" is just that - unreliable and, because it is also inadmissible, we now have a bunch of tortured prisoners on our hands with whom we don't know what to do.

One might hasten to add that torture has also sullied our image and compromised our values (to which, I fear, the former VP might respond "so what").

But, lest we forget, torture is also against international law and binding Conventions. Since neither our Congress nor Department of Justice have moved to hold the last Administration accountable for their violations of law (a fact that surely compromises our ability to hold other governments accountable), it looks like a Spanish court will do the job for us. I, for one, am heartbroken to see us reduced to the level of Chile's Pinochet.

As the Spanish court proceeds to build a case against the Bush Administration for its use of prohibited torture practices, the court may have an easy time of it. It appears that they will encounter no denials - just boastful claims that the torture worked! I'm not sure the judge will be impressed.

Messers Gonzales, Addington, Yoo, Feith et al ought to consider canceling foreign travel for awhile.