Selective Prosecution

Glenn Greenwald has a wonderful post expressing one of the most galling things about the argument against torture prosecutions – the hypocrisy of so many of those making the argument.

Under all circumstances, arguing that high political officials should be immunized from prosecution when they commit felonies such as illegal eavesdropping and torture would be both destructive and wrong… But what makes it so much worse, so much more corrupted, is the fact that this “ignore-the-past-and-forget-retribution” rationale is invoked by our media elites only for a tiny, special class of people — our political leaders — while the exact opposite rationale (“ignore their lame excuses, lock them up and throw away the key”) is applied to everyone else.  That, by definition, is what a “two-tiered system of justice” means and that, more than anything else, is what characterizes (and sustains) deeply corrupt political systems.   That’s the two-tiered system which, for obvious reasons, our political and media elites are now vehemently arguing must be preserved.

While I think the argument is fairly clear, I do nevertheless think a further explanation needs to be made. I believe that  mandatory minimums and three-strikes laws should be eliminated and that the American approach to nonviolent drug offenses and parole violations is massively misguided. More importantly, they are an anchor that is helping to sink the ship of state, especially in California.

This does not necessitate that I correspondingly think that torture shouldn’t be prosecuted. I do not think that sentencing reform needs to occur because we should “forget the past.” I think

it needs to occur because our current system is poisoning the country by slowly undermining our commitment to justice. I believe that letting war criminals go free will do the same.

Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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