Most people abroad will view Bush as a war criminal
Barack Obama has now been inaugurated as president, and the fear
expressed by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday night that George Bush
might issue last-minute pardons of administration officials involved
in torture, possibly including himself, has not come to pass.
However, the torture issue itself is not going to go away so easily.
As Maddow also noted, "The calls for a reckoning are growing by the
day -- and not just from progressives outside the government."
"Do you think that Obama and his team realized how hot an issue this
would become and would stay?" Maddow asked Constitutional law
professor Jonathan Turley.
"I don't think so," Turley replied. "I don't think the people in that
building thought it," he added, pointing to the Capitol. "I mean, that
building is where principles go to die. And they haven't, because
there's been this groundswell of people saying, 'Look, you might be
able to get away with an electronic surveillance program and say
that's just a crime we're not going to allow to be prosecuted, but
these are war crimes., these are a special category.'"
"I think that the new Barack Obama, the President Obama, is going to
find it very hard to go round the world and to say that we're now
again the nation of rules of law," Turley suggested, "if the first act
he commits as president is to talk away from a confirmed war crime."
"Are we literally looking at a possibility," Maddow asked, "where
administration officials from this [previous] administration cannot
travel abroad to the other 145 countries that have signed the torture
treaty because they might get arrested?"
"Most certainly," Turley replied. "The status of George Bush is not
that different from Augusto Pinochet. They've both been accused of
running a torture program. And outside this country, there's not this
ambiguity about what to do with a war crime. ... Most people abroad
are going to view you not as former President George Bush, they're
going to view you as a current war criminal."
"And they're going to view us as an outlaw regime for not arresting
him on our own soil," Maddow remarked.
"I think so, unfortunately," Turley agreed. "A lot's at stake."
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Jan. 19,