An Austrian newspaper quotes the U.N.’s top torture investigator as saying President Barack Obama’s decision not to prosecute CIA operatives who used questionable interrogation practices violates international law.
Manfred Nowak is quoted in Der Standard as saying the United States has committed itself under the U.N. Convention against Torture to make torture a crime and to prosecute those suspected of engaging in it.
The release of the torture memos has resulted in an explosion of online commentary. The memos have been met with appropriate outrage, expressed with passion and eloquence, and the issue that Nowak addresses, namely whether or not to prosecute those who engaged in these terrible acts, is generating a plethora of arguments for and against.
There are those who contend that hard-nosed realism warrants the radical excesses of the Bush years and that to deal with the threat of global terrorism, “extra-legal” measures are required.
That argument fails for one fundamental reason: throughout history, moral power inexorably trumps brute force. On the core question of what makes America stronger and safer, upholding the highest ethical standards, adhering to the rule of law, respecting human rights, will always be the more effective and more just course of action.