The National Catholic Review
The Editors

Torture, detention without trial, secret surveillance of citizens, power to strip citizens’ rights on suspicion of terrorism—the list of alleged misdeeds by the Bush administration in its so-called war on terror is highly troubling, reminiscent of the abuses for which the American colonies declared independence from Britain. For months debate has stirred on how the nation should address these violations of civil liberties and discipline the officials responsible for them. America has asked three distinguished lawyers to make the case for one of three alternatives: taking preventive action, convoking a blue-ribbon committee of inquiry or bringing criminal charges.

"Legal Obligations," William Michael Treanor

"Truth and Consequences," David Cole

"No Excuses," Mary Ellen O'Connell

Comments

Lois Atnip | 8/24/2009 - 9:34pm
The article on torture and the rule of law offered three "choices."  From my perspective these suggested three alternatives are not "either or" issues. All need to be pursued as steps to the resolution of the recent "practice" of torture.  Preventive action needs to be established; a committee needs to be established to investigate; and should such investigation reveal violation of the laws regarding torture then criminal chargesmust be pursued. So be it.  With charges established, and evidence supporting such charges, then the very least would be disbarment of the  lawyers involved.
Peace, Lois Atnip
Norman E. Benz | 8/16/2009 - 1:20pm

Have the editors of America become so liberal that they believe that, in our efforts to prevent another 9/11, we should do nothing in the way of intercepting messages between suspected terrorists, even if Court-approved? If we do experience further terrorist attacks, which our intelligence people assure us are certain to come, will you then bring criminal charges against the present administration for failure to have prevented it?

Anthony FAvallone | 8/3/2009 - 11:49pm

On the subject of torture and the rule of law, there is an argument that seems to have been missed.

The rule of law is premised on the proposition that no  one is above the law, the law is supreme. But few realize that positive law. adequately defined, is called an ordinance of reason that seeks the common good, namely, just order in our society.  The constitution says it clearly when the preamble declares that it is establishing justice. Thus if we pledge our allegiance, then it really must be justice for all, including those unfortunate souls who endured the torture. But more important, we should not ignore the absence of moral stature, personal conscience, of those who allowed it all to happen: the president, the vice president, the attorney general and the legal counsel of the Department of Justice.

So I say inquire and prosecute for the sake of justice.

John Lauer | 8/2/2009 - 5:38pm
Wholeheartedly agree that America's action in torturing detainees whether in the U.S. or outside the U.S. should be investigated. An honest to goodness inquiry is called for and if it is found that arguments were given to rationalize unconstitutional decisions that were already made both the sycophants and their masters should be exposed and prosecuted.
Many of us voted for President Obama for the very reason that we expected him to raise the standards of jusice and morality in our public business so that we Americans could once more deserve to be esteemed by other nations for our honest practice of the ideals of democracy and our desire to be a friend to be admired and not a power to be feared. Our honesty demands proceeding with the torture investigation; it will be another display of hypocracy not to.  
Manuel Dias | 8/1/2009 - 12:40am

In war everything is fair game.