Thursday, March 19, 2009

Red Cross Report Bolsters Case for Bush Inquiry.

I have hoped that the slow leaking of information regarding the Bush administration's horrendous indulgence in torture techniques, would eventually bolster the case for prosecution.

It is simply impossible to read the Red Cross report and not to be horrified by the casual use of violence, by the abominable cruelty inflicted, and not to want to see someone brought to justice.

When one reads of faces being slammed off of walls, of people being shackled naked to chairs for three weeks at a time, one realises that an entire society will stand condemned of complicity unless it publicly distances itself from the people who inflicted this appalling cruelty upon prisoners.

No longer can Americans claim that they did not know what was being done in their name. The details are now public and they make for harrowing reading.

I woke up, naked, strapped to a bed, in a very white room. The room measured approximately [13 feet by 13 feet]. The room had three solid walls, with the fourth wall consisting of metal bars separating it from a larger room. I am not sure how long I remained in the bed. After some time, I think it was several days, but can't remember exactly, I was transferred to a chair where I was kept, shackled by [the] hands and feet for what I think was the next 2 to 3 weeks. During this time I developed blisters on the underside of my legs due to the constant sitting. I was only allowed to get up from the chair to go [to] the toilet, which consisted of a bucket. Water for cleaning myself was provided in a plastic bottle.
I was given no solid food during the first two or three weeks, while sitting on the chair.
The only question now is what Americans are prepared to do about this. Do they let the torturers walk away paying no price for what they have done, or do they prosecute them as the war criminals which they surely are?

25 prominent clergymen and women have called for an independent commission of inquiry into possible war crimes committed by senior officials during the presidency of George W. Bush after reading the recent Red Cross report.

And it's impossible to read what's been written and not to conclude that this torture was sanctioned at the very highest levels of the Bush administration.

Danner writes that all the torture techniques "had to have the approval of the CIA's deputy director for operations." He wrote that CIA officers "briefed high-level officials" in the National Security Council's Principals Committee, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Attorney General John Ashcroft, "who then signed off on the interrogation plan." The briefings about these techniques were so "detailed and frequent that some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed."

These were not the works of "a few bad apples", as the Bush administration claimed after Abu Ghraib, this was official policy.

Torture was official policy, the Bush administration simply didn't call it by it's name. But I defy anyone to read the Red Cross report and to argue that what was done to these men did not constitute torture.

Indeed, the Red Cross report could not have been more explicit on this point:
"The allegations of ill-treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture. In addition, many other elements of the ill-treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."
The Red Cross report is screaming that crimes have been committed here, the only question now is what is going to be done about this.

There are even people who normally lean towards the right of the political spectrum admitting that crimes were committed here:

For example, Anne Applebaum, a columnist for the Washington Post who has close ties to the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote:

"That crimes were committed is no longer in doubt...The horror of the CIA interrogation tactics in these places lies not in their scale but in the doggedness with which they defied American and international law...These 14 men were not tortured as part of an ordinary and accepted routine, in other words, but according to special rules and procedures, set up at the highest level of government, by people who surely knew that they were illegal; otherwise, they would not have limited them so carefully."

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture has joined other organisations calling for an inquiry:

NRCAT has joined many legal advocacy and human rights organisations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, in calling for an impartial, nonpartisan, and independent "commission of inquiry" to investigate U.S.-sponsored torture and to ascertain the extent to which Bush administration interrogation practices constituted "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."

NRCAT'S statement was signed by more than two dozen prominent religious leaders, representing denominations from a wide range of religions, including Protestant and Catholic Christians, Muslims, orthodox and reformed Jews, Sikhs and Hindus.

The ACLU also sent a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder reiterating its call for the Department of Justice to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the authorisation to use torture at CIA secret prisons.

"Given the increasing evidence of deliberate and widespread use of torture and abuse, and that such conduct was the predictable result of policy changes made at the highest levels of government, an independent prosecutor is clearly in the public interest," wrote ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero.

It's become impossible to deny that the Bush administration indulged in war crimes, that Abu Ghraib was the result of official policy rather than the work of a few bad apples; the only question now is whether or not the people who came up with that policy will ever be held to account.

I would argue that it is imperative that an inquiry is started as soon as possible to examine whether or not the Bush administration committed war crimes. Because if America does not act, knowing what it knows now, then it will be impossible to argue that the nation is not complicit in the crimes which were committed in their names.

You can either distance yourself from such behaviour by investigating those who committed the crimes, or you become complicit by refusing to investigate and, therefore, condone such barbarism. There is no third way.


Rachel Maddow on the Red Cross report.

Click title for full article.

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