By Daphne Eviatar 10/17/08
Before a packed crowd at the Netroots convention, Cass Sunstein, a law professor at Harvard and the University of Chicago and a legal adviser for Sen. Barack Obama, was asked how the next president should address the Bush administration's potential war crimes. When Sunstein said the new adminstration must be cautious and not partisan in the use of the prosecutorial power, though egregious acrs should not be ignored, he was still met with a chorus of boos and angry rejoinders that the president and his Cabinet cannot remain above the law.
Since then, legal experts have generally agreed that the next administration is unlikely to prosecute Bush administration officials for authorizing the torture of suspected terrorists -- no matter how many laws the government officials broke. But that hasn't placated many others, like George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, or the constitutional lawyer and author Glenn Greenwald, who argue that holding policy-makers accountable for their actions is critical to restoring the reputation of the United States -- not to mention respect for the rule of law.
Indeed, how can a new president refuse to prosecute Bush administration officials for authorizing the same acts, like waterboarding, that the United States has previously prosecuted as contrary to U.S. and international law?