Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rumsfeld okayed abuses says former U.S. general

Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski has told a Spanish newspaper that Donald Rumsfeld personally approved the interrogation techniques used at Abu Ghraib which were viewed throughout the world as torture and blatant violations of the Geneva Conventions.

Rumsfeld, who German courts are currently investigating for war crimes, personally signed a letter allowing the interrogators to use harsh methods when interviewing prisoners.

Karpinski, who ran the prison until early 2004, said she saw a memorandum signed by Rumsfeld detailing the use of harsh interrogation methods.

"The handwritten signature was above his printed name and in the same handwriting in the margin was written: "Make sure this is accomplished"," she told Saturday's El Pais.

"The methods consisted of making prisoners stand for long periods, sleep deprivation ... playing music at full volume, having to sit in uncomfortably ... Rumsfeld authorized these specific techniques."

The Geneva Convention says prisoners of war should suffer "no physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion" to secure information.

"Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind," the document states.
What's scandalous, although hardly surprising considering the almost total lack of morality in the current US administration, is that Rumsfeld knowingly ignored the Geneva Conventions, the very same Convention's that Bush insisted Iraq must obey during the war.

Rumsfeld also authorized the army to break the Geneva Conventions by not registering all prisoners, Karpinski said, explaining how she raised the case of one unregistered inmate with an aide to former U.S. commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

"We received a message from the Pentagon, from the Defense Secretary, ordering us to hold the prisoner without registering him. I now know this happened on various occasions."

Karpinski said last week she was ready to testify against Rumsfeld, if a suit filed by civil rights groups in Germany over Abu Ghraib led to a full investigation.

It'll never happen, but in any truly just society people like Donald Rumsfeld would be put in jail for his actions. Just as Bush and Blair would be standing right now in the Hague defending their decision to rip up the UN Charter and engage in an illegal war.

The only comfort one can take is that people like Rumsfeld will have to spend the rest of their lives being careful what countries they visit in case the country they wish to visit might have an extradition treaty with Germany.

It's scant comfort, but it's a start. All international law is formed slowly and opinions take years to formulate. But, by beginning to try people like Rumsfeld for their crimes - even if he escapes the court's final findings - we begin the long road to establish that western leaders are not immune to the laws which they insist others must obey.

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comrade O'Brien said...

Dear Comrades,
Please visit to learn about our creative protest of the Military Commissions Act.

misneach said... ran a story some months back (which was picked up by Reuters and then other major wires as well) about Rumsfeld's intimate knowledge of at least one specific instance of prisoner abuse. Human Rights watch then went on to add to the mix the legal concept of "command responsibility" in which military commanders are to be held responsible (in court) for such actions. I covered it on my blog in a post called "rumsfeld indictment" with the links to the stories.

The scary thing now is that the Military Commissions Act has retroactively made such actions legal. That's why I'm hoping rumsfeld might be indicted in Germany as part of their "universal jurisdiction" clause for crimes against humanity, recently condemned by Glenn Greenwald in his "left" blog (which led to an interesting discussion in the comments section).

Kel said...

Comrade O'Brien,

Visited your site and much enjoyed it. I have often made the link here between 1984 and the current US administration's policies.


What do you mean Greenwald condemned the German court case? He's supposedly a lawyer and a left winger. Surely he, of all people, understands that if the home country will not press charges in cases of war crimes then it becomes incumbent on other nations to bring the charges?