Bill Murchison

Just what we need right now -- war crimes trials for top Bush officials. Don Rumsfeld, say, or even Dick Cheney. Stick 'em in the dock. Make 'em confess the awful things they did to protect America. Slather on the tar and throw a bag of feathers their way. Just what's needed to launch a new administration pledged to bring Americans together.

Sigh. They just don't get it, over on the political left, whence issues the cry for vengeance against any who authorized or participated in "illegal" offenses directed at routing out post-9/11 terrorists and thwarting their ability to harm us.

On MSNBC's Morning Joe, an editor for the Financial Times can't see why there's any problem with showing how moral we are by going after those connected with the waterboarding of terrorists. Congressman John Conyers of New York, chairman of the House Rules Committee, is whomping up an inquiry into the Bush administration's interrogation and confinement policies for terrorists. Michael Ratner, president of something called the Center for Constitutional Rights, is the party who says he has evidence for war crimes trials.

What fun -- show the world what a nutty place America really is: executive and congressional power changes hands, and it's off to the courthouse to put away the losers in a nice quiet place. Nothing, huh, like showing your country's enemies how much your human side sympathizes with them! The wonders that this approach to abstract justice would do for the economy and national unity are almost indescribable.

Barack Obama, displaying a maturity larger than his campaign rhetoric sometimes suggested, told George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that he isn't much in favor of the lynch party's aspirations, preferring as he does "to look forward as opposed to looking backwards."

Indeed. Why, he asked, would he want CIA agents "to suddenly feel like they've got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders"? Why -- an equally central, if on this occasion unremarked concern -- would America want to make atonement before its enemies did? To what end? That they might call off the whole jihad?

Obama indicated, further, he wasn't even going to rush out and padlock the Guantanamo Bay detention center, springing, in one way or another, "a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous who have not been put on trial and have not gone through some adjudication."

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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