The Responsible Alternative to “Truth Commissions”

…and prosecutions of high-level Bush administration officials:

The British government planned to give details on Tuesday of highly unusual compensation payments to former detainees at Guantánamo Bay who have complained that the British intelligence agencies colluded in their torture, news reports said. [. . . .]

British media reports said Tuesday that the compensation would total several million dollars to settle court actions brought by former detainees at the American prison at Guantánamo who are either British citizens or residents.

A government statement, carried on the Press Association news agency, said Prime Minister David Cameron had already said “that we need to deal with the totally unsatisfactory situation where for the past few years, the reputation of our security services has been overshadowed by allegations about their involvement in the treatment of detainees held by other countries.”

Note that this comes from a British administration that’s “conserative” in the truest sense of the word: fiscally responsible, and decoupled that lives up to the promises that American conservatives make, but always betray: fiscal responsibility, and a decoupling from social issues in a way that our conservative parties probably cannot accomplish. Only in America, apparently, does “conservatism” require the wholesale exclusion of some minorities, and the unprosecuted and uncompensated torture of others.

Settlement and compensation is the path I’ve advocated since day one for resolving the human rights abuses of the previous administration: it takes the strain off the courts; avoids the bars put in place by complicated legal doctrines (state secrets/sovereign immunity, implied rights of action, etc.), which even the best lawyers have proven powerless to avoid; and alters the political calculus, by focusing away from the general question about whether torture is acceptable — I still can’t believe that’s an actual question — and on to the cases where an innocent man was provably tortured.

Of course, it probably won’t happen here. But one can dream.



  1. “..a British administration that’s “conserative” in the truest sense of the word: fiscally responsible…”

    Is that an admission that the purist form of liberalism is NOT fiscally responsible? If so, I applaud your honesty!

  2. Haha nice try. Of course it’s liberals that have paid down all major 20th century deficits. Your guys seem to be only on the supply side.

  3. Your words, not mine.

  4. YOU said that true conservatism means fiscal responsibility.

  5. This is a silly argument for you to want to win. Suffice it to say all that was meant is that Cameron does what your guys pretend to do.

  6. As a lawyer I am sure you know words matter.

  7. Suddenly, I understand what “gotcha” journalism means!

  8. Bingo. Care for a retraction?

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