I don't know if Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek, is losing it in his "old age" but that would certainly appear to be the case. All you need do is reflect on his discussion about whether to prosecute those involved in legalizing and carrying out torture in this country.
From The Editor's Desk, Newsweek, May 4, 2009:
"The idea that our only options are to move on completely or to prosecute is a classic false choice. A third way would be a 9/11-style bipartisan commission that would include clear supporters of the Bush administration. Such a panel would meet largely in private, have the power to grant immunity to witnesses and be charged with answering, as clearly as possible, the central question of whether Bush's war on terror in its entirety saved lives. ... [Then he refers to "FBI agent Ali Soufan, who got intel from key terror suspects--without using torture".]
"Still," he continues, "it seems likely that the interrogations, among other things, including surveillance, helped us prevent further terrorist attacks. We may never know for sure--you cannot prove a negative--but the public interest would be served by knowing more rather than less about how the war on terror has unfolded. (With, to be sure, the appropriate caveats about not revealing ongoing sources and methods.)"
That is some of the most specious reasoning I have read in a long time! Was Meacham paid by the Bush people?
First of all, the option of a bi-partisan commission may be new to Meacham, but it has been suggested by several writers in the past few months. Harper's recently carried a long article arguing for just that sort of thing.
Furthermore, the nonsense about Bush's war on terror saving lives is, well, nonsense. The evidence is out there for everyone to see: Bush's war on terror killed hundreds of thousands if not millions.
And what does that have to do with authorizing the use of torture?
Secondly, a lot of people felt and still feel that the 9/11 commission's work was not adequate or complete and we know that its recommendations, unenforceable as they were, were simply ignored by the Bush administration!
Such a commission, infected with "clear supporters of the Bush administration" would likely be bogged down in partisanship and would be unlikely to shed any light on what really went on in the bowels of the Bush White House!
Meacham goes on to suggest, without any evidence, that "it seems likely ... the interrogations, among other things, including surveillance, helped us prevent further terrorist attacks."
Incredible! You might as well say my crazy aunt prayed to Zeus and "it seems likely ... these prayers, among other things, including surveillance, helped us prevent further terrorist attacks."
I agree with Meacham that we need to know more. But we do know quite a bit at this point. And I most emphatically do not agree with him and others who believe we do not "want to open criminal investigations ... and pursue criminal charges against officials at the highest levels ... [this] would set a terrible precedent."
Consider that statement: Seeking justice, indicting criminals for criminal actions that not only led to a number of murders, but severely crippled our nation's self-understanding and standing in the world community, is setting a "terrible precedent"?
What kind of reasoning is that?
Not only so, but we have the "smoking gun(s)." We have confessions! We have reams of material that is self-indicting!
NOT seeking justice; not indicting criminals (it doesn't matter their "level" as no one under our constitution is above the law!) is what would set a terrible precedent. It would say to the world that we are world-class hypocrites, establishing laws for some folks, like at Nuremberg, and establishing another set of laws for our own lawless!
Mr. Meaham is no doubt a fine man. But on this issue he is absolutely and totally wrong!