Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The French judge has a torture confession from Gitmo. 19 January '12

When someone commits a crime - what are police officers, prosecutors, and judges looking for to make their case?

A confession.

They want to hear the perp say, "I did it" so that it's case-closed - let's move on to the consequences.

Well...when it comes to war crimes committed by the United States government - we the people got that confession.

And we got that confession from criminals at the very, very top.

George W. Bush himself confessed to authorizing torture - on television - when Matt Lauer asked him about Khalid Sheik Mohammed back in 2010:

And they say, "He's got information." I said, "Find out what he knows." And so I said to our team, "Are the techniques legal?" He says, "Yes, they are." And I said, "Use 'em."...

I will tell you this: using those techniques saved lives. My job was to protect America, and I did. ...

We used this technique on three people. Captured a lot of people and used it on three. We gained valuable information to protect the country and, um, it was the right thing to do as far as I'm concerned.

That's not just a confession - that's an unapologetic confession - it's bragging, the way cons talk to each other on the prison yard.

Bush's number two - Dick Cheney - also confessed on television last year:

Jamie Gangel: In your view, we should still be using enhanced interrogation?

Cheney: Yes.

Gangel: Should we still be waterboarding terror suspects?

Cheney: I would strongly support using it again if circumstances arose where we had a high-value detainee, that was the only way we could get him to talk.

Gangel: People call it torture. you think it should still be a tool?

Cheney: Yes.

Yes! - torture again...and again...and again - as much torture as it takes.

Here are the two most powerful men in American for 8 years - admitting on national television that not only did they authorize a form of torture that we as a nation tried and executed Philipinos for doing to our soldiers in the Spanish American War - and we tried and executed Japanese for doing in World War II.

And both of these American war criminals said they'd do it again if they could.

According to the Geneva Convention - waterboarding is torture - and according to our own laws it is: like the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 - waterboarding is explicitly against the law.

Yet that's exactly what Bush and Cheney did - and we have their confessions...on videotape!

But nothing is happening....

No police outside of Bush's ranch in Texas. Actually, now he's living in a fancy gated community.

No criminal investigation.

The prosecution of Bush and Cheney is not on Attorney General Eric Holder's agenda.

And even before he was sworn into office - back in January of 2009 - President Obama nixed any hopes that these men would be held accountable in the United States:

I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. ...

That doesn’t mean that if somebody has blatantly broken the law, that they are above the law. My orientation is going to be to move forward.

Well, someone has blatantly broken the law - but the President is still moving forward...without an investigation.

And as a result - our nation's commitment to torture under the Bush Administration has not just become a national embarassment - it's now become an international problem.

A French Judge announced Tuesday that he wants to visit Gitmo - and personally investigate allegations of torture and rape made by three former French inmates who served time in the facility.

He's officially sent a request to U.S. authorities on the matter.

The three men making the allegations were arrested back in 2001 along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border - then sent to Gitmo where they were tortured for years before being sent back to France to face trial and eventually be released.

And earlier this week - a Spanish judge reopened an investigation into the Bush Administration war crimes - including torture.

And British officials now are investigating a CIA rendition program that may have involved torturing Libyans.

So it looks like a decade of war crimes is finally catching up with us - and yet President Obama still refuses to hold one person accountable.

He refuses to tell the rest of the world that America condemns torture - and to prove it by prosecuting the war criminals who authorized it.

And the worst part about it? - we - you and I - we're letting him do it.

It's not up to President Obama to prosecute Bush and Cheney.

And it's not up to some French Judge, or some Spanish judge, or some British investigators.

It's up to us.

We've learned recently what happens when we speak up.

When we get organized - and when we get loud - what happens is that the oil barons lose.

The transnational media corporations fold.

Lobbyists are expelled.

And - corrupt Governors get recalled.

When we speak up - we get what we want.

And it's not too late to speak up louder and demand that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bybee, Yoo, the whole rest of the torturous gang go to prison for war crimes - it's the only way we can right this terrible wrong done not just against those who were waterboarded but against our nation as a whole.

President Obama may want to take the political road here, like Jerry Ford did pardoning Nixon's crimes and Bill Clinton did ignoring Reagan's crimes - but it's our duty to force him down the road to justice and - thus - get this nation back on track.

Let's lock these guys up!

That's The Big Picture.

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