When I see articles like this I feel like banging my head against the wall in sheer despair. I like Garrison Keillor, but jeesh - just the TITLE makes me want to scream: "Let war crimes be bygones"???? Gaaahhhh!!
What in God's name have we come to? Keillor appears to be saying that, Yeah, war crimes were committed and isn't that just terrible but we've got better things to do (trains and such) than to "round up a few symbolic suspects and throw the book at them and let all the others go free. Which is what would happen if we launch a criminal prosecution."
Yikes. Not a very rousing endorsement of our justice system, is it. I consider myself at least moderately cynical, but statements like this really jar me. We are talking about torture and war crimes, for crying out loud, not lying about adultery. And, indeed, the perps themselves are just as cynical as Keillor and are putting on the full court press - with Cheney in the lead - bragging about having made the "tough decisions" to torture people. Their confessions are a matter of public record. Well, hell, maybe Keillor is right that prosecutions would fail, but what does it say about us if we aren't even willing to try?
In the first place, it's not an option. It is against federal and international law for us to treat war crimes as "bygones" no matter how distasteful the whole sorry mess is.
And in the second place, is this what we want to tell the victims of these crimes and their families? That we've just got more important things to take care of than to pursue legal action against those responsible for torturing them? Oh yeah, there's the moral high ground.
This is not about "retribution" or "vengeance". Those charges are rightwing BS being thrown out to avoid being held accountable for their actions. It's blackmail, basically. (Think Nathan Jessep: "You wanna investigate me? Roll the dice! But don't think you can come down here, flash a badge and make me nervous.") They are threatening to pull out all stops if the Obama DOJ dares to attempt prosecution - and of course we know these are not empty threats, we all know what they are capable of. But the bottom line is that we have to. This is about having respect for our laws and ourselves.
See also Christy Hardin Smith.
UPDATE: Not just mandatory, but necessary.