Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The U.S. Is Required To Investigate Bush Administration War Crimes.

Manfred Nowak is the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. Here he says that Obama must, under international law, investigate whether or not torture took place under the Bush administration.

When asked if Obama is required, under the Convention signed by President Reagan, to take action against the people responsible, he makes it very clear that, under article four of the Convention that this is the case.

Article 4

1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.
He is very specific that there is enough evidence to make a case against Donald Rumsfeld, and cites the fact that Alberto Mora warned Rumsfeld, that the actions he was proposing would be torture, but that Rumsfeld went ahead and issued the order anyway.

It's well worth reading
Mora's account of what he did when he discovered abuse was taking place at Guantanamo Bay.
The interrogation techniques that had been authorized were almost identical to those which had been applied by the British government against IRA terrorists or suspected terrorists back in the seventies and eighties. And these techniques had been found by the European Commission of Human Rights to constitute torture, and have been found by the European Court of Human Rights to constitute cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Both of these kinds of treatments are prohibited as a matter of law in Europe and regarded as criminal violations. The British government understood the importance of this. The Prime Minister at the time was compelled to go before the Parliament, admit the use of these techniques and then promise never, ever to engage in them again. Then later the court of human rights came down with its decision.
I asked him to protect his client. Towards the end of the meeting, Jim was listening, but really not reacting to anything I said. I didn't know if I was getting through to him or not. And one of the consequences of this, I felt, was that Secretary Rumsfeld, individually, was at risk. And for one lawyer to urge another lawyer to protect a client is one of the strongest messages that a lawyer can possibly send. And I was hoping that that would get through to Jim if the other arguments did not, and cause him to reexamine these authorities and the legal underpinnings for these authorities.
Rumsfeld, of course, rescinded these authorities only for John Yoo to provide his dubious legal guidance which allowed all of the techniques found to be illegal by the European Court of Human Rights to continue. So, a legal precedent had already been established and they were aware of that at the time.

He describes the first time he read Yoo's OLC memo:
These are very densely argued and almost all of the OLC documents are models of legal logic and draftsmanship. They're very carefully, closely reasoned. And they evidence a high degree of legal skill applied to the problem. But this document was awful. There's no other way to describe it. And it caused, with me, a certain dissonance, because you're used to seeing documents that are so carefully crafted that the correctness is evidenced from the quality of a legal analysis. This document was the opposite of that.
It is this document which Cheney, Gonzales and others are relying on when they state that they sought legal clarification that what they were doing was legal. And Yoo's document was written in the full knowledge that these techniques had been found to be torture by a human rights court.


daveawayfromhome said...

And yet Yoo is a law professor. One hopes that the good students avoid his classes.

Kel said...

It's simply extraordinary that he should ignore the very essence of the US, which is supposed to be a system of checks and balances, and yet teach about it.