Should Bush Apologize for Torture?

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Proving once again that, on the subject of torture, he is America’s most important public intellectual (even though he’s British), Andrew Sullivan asks former President Bush to atone for the abuses that occured during his presidency. The editors of The Atlantic, to their great credit, put Sullivan’s “open letter” on the cover.

It seems obvious that only something of the magnitude of Bush himself publicly apologizing for torture can return torture to what it once was: a non-political issue that’s not open for debate. It’s surprising that no one’s suggested it before. Like a lot of the ideas Sullivan has, it only seems obvious after he’s explained it. Anyway, money quote:

The point of this letter, Mr. President, is to beg you to finally take responsibility for this stain on American honor and this burden on a war we must win. It is to plead with you to own what happened under your command, and to reject categorically the phony legalisms, criminal destruction of crucial evidence, and retrospective rationalizations used to pretend that none of this happened. It happened. You once said, “I’m worried about a culture that says … ‘If you’ve got a problem blame somebody else.'” I am asking you to stop blaming others for the consequences of decisions you made.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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