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Where are Americas war criminals today?
By Christopher R Rice
You maybe surprised to learn that all of Americas war criminals are living comfortably, retired, all around the US. Living with absolutely no fear of prosecution. And why? My fellow activist believed in a government that threw them overboard years ago. Thought that putting Democrats in both houses would get a special prosecutor appointed. When that didn't work, they were sure a Democrat in the White House would get the job done.
Not seeing the complete folly in their plans, Obama has gone so far as to suppress new photos and videos of torture committed by US personnel, while claiming that all torture crimes were investigated and prosecuted. And yet, even the Senate report failed to investigate the chain of command.
I, foolishly believed that publishing this information with photographic evidence would send masses of my country men into the streets to demand justice.
When the streets didn't fill with protesters though, the American public became complicit. Every American became a war criminal, guilty as the torturers. Then the terrorist started attacking Americans on American soil. And the CIA, FBI, DHS, NSA, TSA, ICE, and all the government men could not stop them.
On January 15, 2003, Rumsfeld rescinded this directive after the Navy registered its adamant objections. If, during the six weeks that Rumsfeld’s techniques were official Pentagon policy at Guantánamo, soldiers mistreated or tortured prisoners using his approved techniques, then "Rumsfeld could potentially bear direct criminal responsibility, as opposed to command responsibility," says Human Rights Watch.
Rumsfeld may also bear direct responsibility for the torture or abuse of two other prisoners, says Human Rights Watch, citing the Church Report. (This report, one of Rumsfeld’s many internal investigations, was conducted by the Navy Inspector General Vice Admiral Albert Church.) "The Secretary of Defense approved specific interrogation plans for two ‘high-value detainees’ " at Guantánamo, the Church Report noted. Those plans, it added, "employed several of the counter resistance techniques found in the December 2, 2002, [policy]. . . . These interrogations were sufficiently aggressive that they highlighted the difficult question of precisely defining the boundaries of humane treatment of detainees."
And Rumsfeld may be in legal trouble for hiding detainees from the Red Cross. "Secretary Rumsfeld has publicly admitted that . . . he ordered an Iraqi national held in Camp Cropper, a high security detention center in Iraq, to be kept off the prison’s rolls and not presented to the International Committee of the Red Cross," Human Rights Watch notes. This prisoner, according to The New York Times, was kept off the books for at least seven months.
The last potential legal problem for Rumsfeld is his alleged involvement in creating a "secret access program," or SAP. According to reporter Seymour Hersh, Rumsfeld "authorized the establishment of a highly secret program that was given blanket advance approval to kill or capture and, if possible, interrogate ‘high value’ targets in the war on terror." Human Rights Watch says that "if Secretary Rumsfeld did, in fact, approve such a program, he would bear direct liability, as opposed to command responsibility, for war crimes and torture committed by the SAP."
Foreign governments should "uphold their obligations under international law by investigating U.S. officials implicated in the development or implementation of interrogation techniques that constitute torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment," the group said in a May 25 statement. William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, added, "If the United States permits the architects of torture policy to get off scot-free, then other nations will be compelled" to take action.
The Geneva Conventions and the torture treaty "place a legally binding obligation on states that have ratified them to exercise universal jurisdiction over persons accused of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions," Amnesty International USA said. "If anyone suspected of involvement in the U.S. torture scandal visits or transits through foreign territories, governments could take legal steps to ensure that such individuals are investigated and charged with applicable crimes."
And we have to ask ourselves, where is the accountability? Who has the authority to ascertain whether these high officials committed war crimes and torture, and if they did, to bring them to justice?
Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the ACLU, the American Bar Association, and Human Rights First (formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) have joined in a call for a special prosecutor.
If more information comes out, and if the American public demands an investigation, we might get justice. Otherwise nothing will get done and we will continue making the mistakes of the past.
Obama officials may be further violating international law, according to Human Rights Watch. "Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, whenever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction," says the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Geneva Conventions have a similar requirement.
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Children tortured before parents, raped, all covered up by Bush/Cheney and our media
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The case against Rumsfeld may be the most substantial of all. While "expressing no opinion about the ultimate guilt or innocence" of Rumsfeld, Human Rights Watch is urging his prosecution under the War Crimes Act of 1996 and the Anti-Torture Act of 1996. Under these statutes, a "war crime" is any "grave breach" of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment," as well as torture and murder. A "grave breach," according to U.S. law, includes "willful killing, torture, or inhuman treatment of prisoners of war and of other ‘protected persons,’ " Human Rights Watch explains in "Getting Away with Torture?"
Rumsfeld faces jeopardy for being head of the Defense Department when those directly under him committed grave offenses. And he may be liable for actions he himself undertook.
"Secretary Rumsfeld may bear legal liability for war crimes and torture by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantánamo under the doctrine of ‘command responsibility’—the legal principle that holds a superior responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates when he knew or should have known that they were being committed but fails to take reasonable measures to stop them," Human Rights Watch says in its report.
But Rumsfeld’s potential liability may be more direct than simply being the guy in charge who didn’t stop the torture and mistreatment once he learned about it.
First of all, when the initial reports of prisoner mistreatment came in, he mocked the concerns of human rights groups as "isolated pockets of international hyperventilation." He also asserted that "unlawful combatants do not have any rights under the Geneva Convention," even though, as Human Rights Watch argues, "the Geneva Conventions provide explicit protections to all persons captured in an international armed conflict, even if they are not entitled to POW status."
Secondly, he himself issued a list of permissible interrogation techniques in a December 2, 2002, directive that likely violated the Geneva Conventions, according to Human Rights Watch. Among those techniques: "The use of stress positions (like standing) for a maximum of four hours." On the directive, Rumsfeld, incidentally, added in his own handwriting next to this technique: "However, I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?" He also included the following techniques: "removal of all comfort items (including religious items)," "deprivation of light and auditory stimuli," "isolation up to 30 days," and "using detainees’ individual phobias (such as fear of dogs) to induce stress."
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White House Asks Court to Block Torture Photos’ Release The Obama administration has formally requested the censorship of hundreds of photos of torture committed at U.S. prisons overseas.
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The General’s Report How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties.By Seymour M. Hersh http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/06/25/the-generals-report
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Amnesty International USA, believes that Bush, by his own involvement in formulating policy on torture, may have committed war crimes. "It’s the memos, the meetings, the public statements," says Alistair Hodgett, media director of Amnesty International USA.
There is "prima facie evidence that senior members of the U.S. Administration, including President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, have authorized human rights violations, including ‘disappearances and torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment,’ " Amnesty states in "Guantánamo and Beyond."
On February 7, 2002, Bush issued another self-incriminating memorandum. This one was to the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Director of the CIA, the National Security Adviser, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was entitled "Humane Treatment of Al Qaeda and Taliban Detainees." In it, Bush asserted that "none of the provisions of Geneva apply to our conflict with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan or elsewhere throughout the world." He also declared, "I have the authority under the Constitution to suspend Geneva as between the United States and Afghanistan," though he declined to do so. And he said that "common Article 3 of Geneva does not apply to either Al Qaeda or Taliban."
This memo "set the stage for the tragic abuse of detainees," says William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA.
Bush's White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said "The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity. We have liberated fifty million people in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . . We’re also leading the way when it comes to spreading compassion."
Schulz takes the long view: "Let’s keep in mind, there are no statutes of limitations here."
Read more: http://www.progressive.org/mag_impunity
Americas War Criminals: Bush & Co.
By Christopher R Rice
From the Progressive: When Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he was asked whether he "ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise, and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison." Sanchez, who was head of the Pentagon’s Combined Joint Task Force-7 in Iraq, swore the answer was no. Under oath, he told the Senators he "never approved any of those measures to be used."
But a document the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) obtained from the Pentagon flat out contradicts Sanchez’s testimony. It’s a memorandum entitled "CJTF-7 Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy," dated September 14, 2003. In it, Sanchez approved several methods designed for "significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee." These included "sleep management"; "yelling, loud music, and light control: used to create fear, disorient detainee, and prolong capture shock"; and "presence of military working dogs: exploits Arab fear of dogs."
According to an article in The New York Times, Gonzales submitted written testimony that said: "The policy of the United States is not to transfer individuals to countries where we believe they likely will be tortured, whether those individuals are being transferred from inside or outside the United States." He added that he was "not aware of anyone in the executive branch authorizing any transfer of a detainee in violation of that policy."
"That’s a clear, absolute lie," says Michael Ratner, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who is suing Administration officials for their involvement in the torture scandal. "The Administration has a policy of sending people to countries where there is a likelihood that they will be tortured."
The New York Times article backs up Ratner’s claim. It says "a still-classified directive signed by President Bush within days of the September 11 attacks" gave the CIA broad authority to transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogations. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International estimate that the United States transfers between 100 and 150 detainees a day to countries notorious for torture.
Related articles: Former military interrogator Matthew Alexander refutes Dick Cheney's claim that torture saved American lives. http://www.thenation.com/article/ex-interrogator-torture-creates-terrorists/
the United States Army and the Central Intelligence Agency committed a series of human rights violations against detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. These violations included physical and sexual abuse, torture, rape, sodomy, and murder. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghraib_torture_and_prisoner_abuse
Sanchez may be personally culpable for war crimes and torture, according to Human Rights Watch. And Gonzales himself was one of the legal architects of the torture policies. As such, he may have been involved in "a conspiracy to immunize U.S. agents from criminal liability for torture and war crimes under U.S. law," according to Amnesty International’s recent report: "Guantánamo and Beyond: The Continuing Pursuit of Unchecked Executive Power."
As White House Counsel, Gonzales advised President Bush to not apply Geneva Convention protections to detainees captured in Afghanistan, in part because this "substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act," Gonzales wrote in his January 25, 2002, memo to the President.
The Bush Administration’s legal troubles don’t end with Sanchez or Gonzales. They go right to the top: to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush himself. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International USA say there is "prima facie" evidence against Rumsfeld for war crimes and torture. And Amnesty International USA says there is also "prima facie" evidence against Bush for war crimes and torture. (According to Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, "prima facie evidence" is "evidence sufficient to establish a fact or to raise a presumption of fact unless rebutted.")
Amnesty International USA has even taken the extraordinary step of calling on officials in other countries to apprehend Bush and Rumsfeld and other high-ranking members of the Administration who have played a part in the torture scandal.