Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How Much More Do We Need To Hear?

The more one gets to examine the newly released CIA IG report, the more obvious it becomes that the CIA were torturing people without permission, and that this permission was actually granted in retrospect. John Sifton explains why that could prove to be very dangerous for the CIA.

And there are now reports that one of their methods of torture was to literally leave these men lying in their own shit:
But there's another reason they were kept in diapers, at least while in transit, and I suspect at other times as well: forced enemas.
Mr. Kahtani was, for example, forcibly given an enema, officials said, which was used because it was uncomfortable and degrading.

Pentagon spokesmen said the procedure was medically necessary because Mr. Kahtani was dehydrated after an especially difficult interrogation session. Another official, told of the use of the enema, said, however, "I bet they said he was dehydrated," adding that that was the justification whenever an enema was used as a coercive technique, as it had been on several detainees.
And let's not forget, no matter what Cheney or anyone else states, that these men - including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - were innocent at the time that they were tortured. This is an oft forgotten fact in this discussion. Every single person at Guantanamo Bay - and other US detention facilities - was, under US law, utterly innocent until found guilty by a court of law. And, as Bush refused to ever put them on trial, they were innocent at the time when all of these atrocities were taking place.

That's the fundamental of US law which Bush, Cheney, Yoo and others were attempting to dismantle.

They believed that these men were terrorists and that, therefore, the law no longer applied.

That's why it would be futile to prosecute the people who carried out these atrocities rather than the architects of them. For the underlying principle which fuelled their actions - that the law did not apply to certain people - is what makes what they did so illegal and so dangerous.

And it's why it is imperative, if Obama is to make good on his promise that the US "is a country of laws", that these people face prosecution.
New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, a senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, told the Huffington Post that he believed that President Obama would be breaking the law if he decided to oppose launching investigation into the authorization of torture.

"If they follow the law they have no choice," Nadler said in an interview this past weekend.

The logic, for Nadler, is straightforward. As a signatory of the convention against torture, and as a result of the anti-torture act of 1996, the United States government is obligated to investigate accusations of torture when they occur in its jurisdiction.

The alternative, Nadler said, "would be violating the law. They would be not upholding the law; they would be violating it."
I don't know how much more of this stuff has to come out before the American public - and the Obama administration - finally say, "Enough!", and move to do what is right.

If you have followed the torture revelations over the years, you can't help but be just a tad disillusioned by the fact that the mainstream media acts over and over again as if they were born yesterday and each time these stories are validated it's as if it's the first time they've heard it.

We already know they tortured. We know that DOJ bureaucrats illegally approved the torture on Dick Cheney's request and we know that a bunch of unprofessional, untrained interrogators complied and then went beyond even what was approved. We know that innocent people were tortured and we know that prisoners were killed. We've known all this for a long time. The question is not what happened, it's whether anyone will be held accountable for it.
The more we hear, the more dreadful the lack of action against these people becomes.

Related Articles:

Andrew Sullivan: The Evidence Mounts Still Further
The descent of the United States - and of Americans in general - to lower standards of morality and justice than those demanded by Iranians of their regime is a sign of the polity's moral degeneracy.


This is what Bush and Cheney truly achieved in their tragic response to 9/11: two terribly failed, brutally expensive wars, the revival of sectarian warfare and genocide in the Middle East, the end of America's global moral authority, the empowerment of Iran's and North Korea's dictatorships, and the nightmares of Gitmo and Bagram still haunting the new administration.

But what they did to the culture - how they systematically dismantled core American values like the prohibition on torture and respect for the rule of law - is the worst and most enduring of the legacies.

One political party in this country is now explicitly pro-torture, and wants to restore a torture regime if it regains power. Decent conservatives for the most part simply looked the other way. Unless these cultural forces in defense of violence and torture are defeated - not appeased or excused, but defeated - America will never return the way it once was. Electing a new president was the start and not the end of this. He is flawed, as every president is, but in my view, the scale of the mess he inherited demands some slack. Any new criminal investigation which scapegoats those at the bottom while protecting the guilty men and women who made it happen is a travesty of justice. If it is the end and not the beginning of accountability, it will be worse than nothing.

What is also being overlooked by a lot of newspaper reporting is that CIA operatives themselves were saying that this programme was illegal, even as they were carrying it out:
The Inspector General’s review was launched by complaints coming from valued senior employees who felt that the Bush Program (as John Yoo has dubbed it) was wrong. One of them actually expresses his worry that those involved will be hauled before the World Court at some point because of [and that’s redacted!] This makes clear that good employees of the agency opposed the Bush Program, were vocal in their opposition, and focused concern on the program’s illegality.

The New York Times:
It is possible to sympathize with Mr. Obama’s desire to avoid a politically fraught investigation. But the need to set this nation back under the rule of law is no less urgent than it was when he promised to do so in his campaign.

That will not be accomplished by investigating individual interrogators. It will require a fearless airing of how the orders were issued to those men, and who gave them. Only by making public officials accountable under the law can Americans be confident that future presidents will not feel free to break it the way Mr. Bush did.
That's what's at stake here in a nutshell. And I am pleased that this point is now being made by a major newspaper and not just by people on the blogs.

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