"""'The notion of putting the Bush years on trial has never held allure for President Obama; even less so that of putting Wall Street in the dock. From his lips has always dropped the catechism of uplift and forgiveness, of “moving forward”. He and his advisors had supposed that closing down Guantanamo and issuing a stern denunciation of torture would be sufficient advertisement of the new era; that a few terse reprimands for excessive bonuses for executives would slake the public appetite for retribution on the bankers and tycoons.Cockburnspeak: peligroso pero divertido.. Given that senior Democrats in Congress were, as Cockburn points out, "complicit in sanctioning torture," a bipartisan investigation would probably not amount to much. A non-partisan, special prosecutor--or tribunal, even non-American--would likely carry a bit more weight. Take it to Barry Spinoza's alma mater, the Hague.
On torture, as he approaches the 100-day benchmark, Obama has been forced to change step, in response to public outrage at the chilling stream of memoranda documenting the savageries, and legal justifications for same, ordered and subsequently monitored in minute detail by the Bush high command. Obama's continuing aversion to any serious calling to account of the sponsors of torture has been evident in his almost daily shifts in position. At the start of this last week he indicated that yes, those okaying the tortures might be legally answerable, that a “Truth Commission” might be the way forward. By Thursday he was backing into that, saying that a commission would “open the door to a protracted, backward-looking discussion” and in the language of his press secretary, "the president determined the concept didn't seem altogether workable in this case" because of the intense partisan atmosphere built around the issue.
So it’s still not clear whether Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their subordinates will have to endure the soft option of a bipartisan commission of enquiry, or face a special prosecutor, or sit back and watch political momentum flag as the issue devolves into lengthy and possibly closed hearings by the Senate Intelligence Committee. As Republicans have not been slow in pointing out, senior Democrats in Congress were certainly complicit in sanctioning torture as early as 2002. They say House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed waterboarding. She says she did not.
As always, former vice president Cheney has usefully raised the stakes. Did the various tortures, the hundreds of waterboarding sessions, the exposure of naked captives to weeks of intense cold in small concrete boxes, actually make America safer? Cheney snarls on television that they did, thus inviting documented ripostes that this is far from clear, and indeed they contributed nothing of advantage to the national interest.""""