Thursday, September 3, 2009
PUNISHMENT - September 3, 2009
The stage is set for a confrontation over whether a special counsel will undertake a study of the methods used to torture detainees by the Cheney regime. On the one hand we have the AG, who has read the report of the Inspector General of the Justice Department concerning the violation of the standards of justice in US then. On the other hand there is the word of Pres. Obama that “we should look forward, not backward”. Mr. Cheney favors closing the book on what he has done, as may be prudent on his part, if not just. Many of those who took his word that they were safe doing as he wished apparently are fearing punishment, just as he seems to be. And this is a nation that is very deep into punishment, as we see in the case of Mr. Megrahi, who has been diagnosed as shortly to die and has dropped his appeal on new evidence so that he can go home and die among his kinfolk. The clamor for vengeance by US is very strong, and has swept people widely thought to be of humane persuasion. This need for punishment is strong among people who have been accused of rape and turn out, on the DNA evidence, to look nothing like the men who are much later shown to be the rapists. One explanation given is that they have been recruited to testify against the men accused on the grounds that if they do not convince a jury of the guilt of those particular men, then the prosecutors will drop the case and no one will be convicted. I am on the side that guilt is often wrongly assigned. But in the case of torture, I do think that the truth needs to be shown to the people. The Q of whether punishment should exceed the obloquy that they might have earned should be judged by what that truth turns out to be. That would be a time, if any, to eschew the course of vengeance, not now.