MONDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2014
Why does America torture?
But no such ties between Saddam and Al-Qaida existed...
Defending the Bill of Rights and human rights promise something different...
But the Iraqi engineer "curveball" made up for German intelligence a story about mobile bioweapons laboratories. Germany, a comparatively civilized nation, did not use torture. though they "interrogated" him for a year and a half. The engineer wanted and got asylum in Germany. Yet both German and British intelligence warned the US about his "information." See here.
Nonetheless, Bush and Powell also picked up and used this "information" in speeches pushing for aggression (as Cheney planted front page stories in theNew York Times through access to Judith Miller - via his minion Scooter Libby - and then cited thoseTimes's stories as "evidence" for Iraqi wmds).
It is mainly the danger of winds blowing from the top - the thuggish Cheney, the hapless and easily incited Bush - and the pressures of American militarism or war complex dominated politics funded at a trillion dollars a year (the official Pentagon and "intelligence" budgets) - pushing things ever to the Right. The latter is what I call the "right wing two step" in which one oligarchic party calls out for craziness hoping to win elections given a compliant mainstream press, coupled with the other oligarchic party putting up little fight - Obama's bombing of Syria is the latest illustration.
Now Senator Mark Udall on the torture report, Obama on recognizing Cuba are counterexamples, which in their difficulty/exceptionalism - Udall and Obama no longer face elections - underline the point.
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He did allow his Justice Department to investigate the C.I.A.'s destruction of videotapes of torture sessions and those who may have gone beyond the torture techniques authorized by President George W. Bush. But the investigation did not lead to any charges being filed, or even any accounting of why they were not filed.
Mr. Obama has said multiple times that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” as though the two were incompatible. They are not. The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down.
Americans have known about many of these acts for years, but the 524-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report erases any lingering doubt about their depravity and illegality: In addition to new revelations of sadistic tactics like “rectal feeding,” scores of detainees were waterboarded, hung by their wrists, confined in coffins, sleep-deprived, threatened with death or brutally beaten. In November 2002, one detainee who was chained to a concrete floor died of “suspected hypothermia.”
These are, simply, crimes. They are prohibited by federal law, which defines torture as the intentional infliction of “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” They are also banned by theConvention Against Torture, the international treaty that the United States ratified in 1994 and that requires prosecution of any acts of torture.
So it is no wonder that today’sblinkered apologists are desperate to call these acts anything but torture, which they clearly were. As the report reveals, these claims fail for a simple reason: C.I.A. officials admitted at the time that what they intended to do was illegal.
In July 2002, C.I.A. lawyers told the Justice Department that the agency needed to use “more aggressive methods” of interrogation that would “otherwise be prohibited by the torture statute.” They asked the department to promise not to prosecute those who used these methods. When the department refused, they shopped around for the answer they wanted. They got it from the ideologically driven lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel, who wrote memos fabricating a legal foundation for the methods. Government officials now rely on the memos as proof that they sought and received legal clearance for their actions. But the report changes the game: We now know that this reliance was not made in good faith.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch are to give Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. a letter Monday calling for appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate what appears increasingly to be “a vast criminal conspiracy, under color of law, to commit torture and other serious crimes.”
But any credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos. There are many more names that could be considered, including Jose Rodriguez Jr., the C.I.A. official who ordered the destruction of the videotapes; the psychologists who devisedthe torture regimen; and the C.I.A. employees who carried out that regimen.
One would expect Republicans who have gone hoarse braying about Mr. Obama’s executive overreach to be the first to demand accountability, but with one notable exception, Senator John McCain, they have either fallen silent oractively defended theindefensible. They cannot even point to any results: Contrary to repeated claims by the C.I.A., the report concluded that “at no time” did any of these techniques yield intelligence that averted a terror attack. And at least 26 detainees were later determined to have been “wrongfully held.”
The US Attorney General is under a legal duty to bring criminal charges against those responsible.