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The Torture Sessions: Will Our Press Be Good Enough to Stand Up to Task?

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Message Nathan Nahm
The existence of the so-called torture memos in the DOJ and now the revelation of torture sessions by the highest officers of the executive branch of our government establish with practical certainty (most likely, I would say, beyond a reasonable doubt) that serious crimes may have been committed. 

Moreover, under our existing domestic laws, the Geneva Conventions and other applicable international law, as well as under well established relevant case law and other precedents, there can hardly be any dispute that these crimes, if proven, will likely rise to the level of war crimes or the so-called crimes against humanity.

Thus, it is obvious that our government will not have the moral authority to initiate or even request any investigation and prosecution of war criminals in other countries in an international forum or in our court, unless we investigate and prosecute our own government officials who have committed the same or similar crimes.

First, however, it is certain that our own executive branch will not conduct any meaningful investigation and prosecution of these crimes on its own.

It is doubtful that the next administration, even if the Democratic candidate wins, will be able to conduct such investigation unless forced to do so through the legal apparatus of the government initiated by Congressional hearings. 

Second, the records to date make it clear that Congress is not likely to initiate any meaningful investigation or hearings unless enough members of the Congress feel strong pressure to do so.

The 2006 election apparently did not make the Democrats feel enough pressure to do anything meaningful about the Iraq war or the many alleged illegal acts of the Bush administration, as the first thing Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker of the House, gratuitously declared was that the impeachment of Bush was "off the table."

Therefore, only an incessant and concentrated coverage of the issue by the press can generate the kind of public pressure to force Congress to act, so as to restore the moral authority of our government.

Pressure generated by grassroots movements certainly will be helpful and has been forthcoming quite loudly through the blogosphere and the like.

In the final analysis, however, only the powerful press has enough voice and resources to make a real difference.   

No doubt, this is precisely why our Founding Fathers thought that freedom of the press was fundamental to our democracy.

Now it is time to see whether we actually have the kind of press today which will do what our Founding Fathers would have expected them to do in times of crisis where our own government officials seem to have fallen to the level of foreign thugs that we have been demanding to be investigated and prosecuted under international laws, and which will thereby defend our Constitution and our democracy from an internal cancer. 

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Nathan Nahm is a retired New York lawyer.

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