Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bill Richardson Gets It Right

On the issue of torture, Gov. Bill Richardson says exactly what all the candidates should be saying:

We learned this week that the CIA destroyed tapes of American officials committing torture. The American people deserve to know whether laws were violated and whether the President was directly involved in illegal activities. Torture is a black and white moral issue. A failure to act decisively in this case will be an unacceptable failure of leadership.

Torture is un-American, it violates international law, and it is wrong. And when I am President, I will make sure that those who are responsible for torture are held accountable for their actions.

When I have secured the release of people held in captivity overseas, I have seen the fear in the eyes of captured men and women, and I have spoken with their scared families. To them, the Geneva Convention is not "quaint" or outdated; it is the bedrock institution guaranteeing that no one -- no matter how powerful -- is above the law.

And yet, in the thirteen months since winning back the House and Senate, Democrats in Congress have done too little to force this administration to stop torturing.

Perhaps one reason that Bush and Cheney have been so comfortable with torture is that they feel they will never be held accountable for their actions.

Indeed, despite consistently stating that they can't accomplish anything because they lack a filibuster-proof majority, Senate Democrats failed even to block an Attorney General who equivocated on torture.

They have taken no action on the International Criminal Court.

They have failed to appoint a Special Prosecutor to provide for high-level accountability.

They failed to restore habeas corpus.

They have done nothing to enforce the Constitution or any of our laws against torture.

This must change. If Congress won't act, then our next President must.

The next President must be clearly and unequivocally committed to changing our country's stand on torture, and that is exactly what I pledge to do. Strong leaders are not afraid to be held accountable, nor are they afraid to hold others accountable for acts that we all know are wrong.

As soon I am inaugurated, I will order investigations to find out who is responsible for torture -- those who allowed it, those who sanctioned it, and those who carried it out. We can and will find out who is responsible.


Richardson's chances of winning are extremely slim, but he's right on so many issues. With the media circus focusing on Clinton/Obama trivia, this statement by Richardson will not get the notice it deserves. But I, for one, will say "Bravo, Bill."

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