Sunday, January 11, 2009

Looking forward...

I've seen yet another mention of the Obama administration-to-be talking about "looking forward, not backward" on issues like illegal detentions, illegal interrogation techniques, and otherwise using American values like toilet paper.

I agree, we should look forward. It's more important to consider the future than the past.

And if those who ordered this atrocities are not, at the very least, publicly shamed and punished, then, in the future, the next time we have an incompetent President, there will be cheerleaders who push us back into doing such things.

Look: I sympathize greatly with those who followed unlawful orders, and if there are any folks who can be shown to have followed lawful-seeming orders in good faith, I'm more than willing to see them walk away with a slap on the wrist and the derailing of their careers. (What? Ruin a person's career? Well, yes, keeping in mind that people change careers all the time. I'm sorry, but but you don't earn rewards by doing the wrong thing.)

But as for those who formulated the policies, who gave the illegal orders? Hey, they chose to go "dark side", and they should have considered the consequences. Goldsmith reported that they were afraid of future legal prosecutions, so it's not like the possibility didn't occur to them. Sometimes, when told to do something that's both stupid and illegal, the proper response is to refuse.

I know... this is what most people mean when they talk about "looking backwards," but this isn't a matter of petty revenge seeking. This is a matter of protecting the next guys who come up with such terrible ideas from trying to implement them. This is looking forward.

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