NY Times Editors Call for Prosecution of 'Torturers,' Including Dick Cheney, George Tenet

In an angry editorial published in the Sunday edition of the New York Times, the newspaper's editorial board called on president Barack Obama to “Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses.”

The list of offenders “in a credible investigation” is a long one, including former vice president Dick Cheney; his chief of staff, David Addington; former CIA director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the lawyers for the Office of Legal Counsel who helped draft the documents clearing the way for “enhanced interrogation“ of prisoners and enemy combatants.

In addition, the editors called for charges to be brought against Jose Rodriguez, Jr., the CIA official who ordered the destruction of supposedly incriminating videotapes; the psychologists who devised the “torture regimen;” and the agency employees who carried out those directives.

The board also asserted:

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.

“Since the day President Obama took office,” the editors stated, “he has failed to bring to justice anyone responsible for the torture of terrorism suspects -- an official government program conceived and carried out in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

Obama has instead “said multiple times that 'we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,' as though the two were incompatible. They are not,” the Times board asserted.

Nevertheless, Obama “did allow his Justice Department to investigate the CIA's destruction of videotapes of torture sessions and those who may have gone beyond the torture techniques authorized by president George W. Bush,” the editors claimed. “But the investigation did not lead to any charges being filed, or even any accounting of why they were not filed.”

However, the editors claimed that the reason for the current call to action was the release of the 524-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report, which “erases any lingering doubt about their depravity and illegality” despite the fact that the document was written by the Democratic members of the intelligence committee.

“In addition to new revelations of sadistic tactics like 'rectal feeding,' scores of detainees were waterboarded, hung by their wrists, confined in coffins, sleep-deprived, threatened with death or brutally beaten,” the Times indicated that “in November 2002, one detainee who was chained to a concrete floor died of 'suspected hypothermia.'”

“These are, simply, crimes,” the board continued. “They are prohibited by federal law, which defines torture as the intentional infliction of 'severe physical or mental pain or suffering.' They are also banned by the Convention Against Torture, the international treaty that the United States ratified in 1994 and that requires prosecution of any acts of torture.”

“No amount of legal pretzel logic can justify the behavior detailed in the report,” the editors continued. “At the very least, Mr. Obama needs to authorize a full and independent criminal investigation.”

“The question everyone will want answered, of course, is: Who should be held accountable? That will depend on what an investigation finds,” the editors continued, “and as hard as it is to imagine Mr. Obama having the political courage to order a new investigation, it is harder to imagine a criminal probe of the actions of a former president.”

“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,” the board asserted.

Yet again, the editors point to the Democrats' report as the gospel truth when claiming: “They cannot even point to any results. Contrary to repeated claims by the CIA, 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.'”

As NewsBusters previously reported, the editors at the Times aren't the only ones using the summary in an attempt to punish members of the Bush administration for actions taken during the War on Terror.

On Monday, reporter Glenn Greenwald told HuffpoLive host Alyona Minkovski that Cheney -- who had defended the interrogation tactics during an appearance on NBC's news and interview program the previous day -- "should be in the dock at The Hague or in a federal prison” instead of appearing as a guest on Meet the Press.

It will be interesting to see how these liberals respond when the full intelligence committee issues its final report. Apparently, Democrats feel they must get as much mileage out of the summary as they can.

New York Times Dick Cheney President Barack Obama President George W. Bush David Addington

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