Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, the most high-profile victim of a Bush-era political prosecution, had a strong reaction to recent news that advisors to Barack Obama feared a coup if the administration pursued prosecutions for war crimes.
Obama's team likely also feared reprisals if they pursued accountability on other justice matters, such as political prosecutions and the unlawful firings of U.S. attorneys. That means the White House, under a Democratic president, is more or less saying to Siegelman and others, "The rule of law doesn't apply to you."
Not surprisingly, Siegelman finds such a position abhorrent, and that comes through clearly in his guest editorial at the D.C.-based Justice Integrity Project, led by Andrew Kreig. The Siegelman column is titled "The President Needs to Engage his Moral GPS," and it raises serious questions about Obama's reluctance to lead on issues of profound importance.
Clearly if one's moral compass is locked in, the decision is easy to make that the United States does not tolerate torture as a means of interrogation. The President should have pursued those responsible for implementing torture as a means of interrogation, and could have explained to the country that this is something that we must do, in order for countries throughout the world, and peoples throughout the world, to once again have respect for the United States. He could explain to the people of the United States that his decision to pursue those responsible for torture was going to be unsettling to some high-ranking officials, both in the military and those in the former Bush Administration.
If he had done that, if he had laid that predicate to the American people, then it would have been less likely that those who were contemplating retaliating against the President for his investigation of torture would have followed through with their threat. But even if they did, then the fight for what is right and just and in the United States' best interest would have been clearly delineated, laid out before the American people, and the American people would have sided with the President in his fight for truth.