The New York Times editorial board has called on President Barack Obama and the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation into the CIA's use of torture, in a scathing editorial published Sunday.
The board demanded that the investigation look into involvement of former Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as several other former Bush officials, with regards to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report detailing the CIA's post-Sept. 11 torture program. The 500-page report, released in early December, examined the tactics inflicted upon terrorism suspects, whom interrogators waterboarded to the point of near drowning and rectally rehydrated.
"These are, simply, crimes," the board wrote.
"No amount of legal pretzel logic can justify the behavior detailed in the report," The Times continued. "Indeed, it is impossible to read it and conclude that no one can be held accountable. At the very least, Mr. Obama needs to authorize a full and independent criminal investigation."
The board then asked the big, lingering question: As the U.S. seeks to regain "moral credibility," who should be held responsible? While the editors themselves could not answer, the board named those they strongly feel should be investigated first, in addition to Cheney, including: Cheney's chief of staff, David Addington; former CIA director George Tenet; and Office of Legal Counsel attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee, among others.
More from The New York Times:
One would expect Republicans who have gone hoarse braying about Mr. Obama’s executive overreach to be the first to demand accountability, but with one notable exception, Senator John McCain, they have either fallen silent or actively defended the indefensible. They cannot even point to any results: Contrary to repeated claims by the C.I.A., the report concluded that “at no time” did any of these techniques yield intelligence that averted a terror attack. And at least 26 detainees were later determined to have been “wrongfully held.”
Starting a criminal investigation is not about payback; it is about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments.