Protecting American War Criminals

Dec 1 2010 @ 7:16pm

In Spain, the Wikileaks revelations have dominated the headlines for the last few days. The reason? They reveal an extraordinary effort by the US embassy and the Bush and Obama administrations to cajole, pressure, redirect and try to rig legal cases that could reveal the war crimes of the previous administration. Scott Horton has the goods. Money quote:

Diplomats routinely monitor and report on legal cases that affect national interests. These cables show that the U.S. embassy in Madrid had far exceeded this mandate, however, and was actually successfully steering the course of criminal investigations, the selection of judges, and the conduct of prosecutors. Their disclosure has created deep concern about the independence of judges in Spain and the manipulation of the entire criminal justice system by a foreign power.

One reason I am not as alarmed by Wikileaks as some others – although I do see the damage they have done to the very possibility of frank and discreet governing and diplomacy. They have helped expose for real the US government's attempt to protect itself and its agents from the rule of law with respect to the torture and abuse of prisoners. Without the Internet – in which digital photos can be spread far and wide – we would also have no idea of the graphic horror of the Bush-Cheney torture regime.

So what do you prefer? Old-fashioned secrecy or our own governments getting away literally with murder and torture? Since Bill Keller won't even call it torture, doesn't Julian Assange merit some praise for helping expose it in full?