Friday, December 24, 2004

Unbelievable Hypocrisy: Torture Means Just What Bush and Gonzales says It Means

Bush's New Attorney General:

...in July of 2002 the president's chief counsel, Alberto Gonzales, convened his colleagues in his cozy, wood-paneled White House office. One by one, the lawyers went over five or six pressure techniques proposed by the CIA. One such technique, a participant recalls, was "waterboarding" (making a suspect think he might drown). Another, mock burial, was nixed as too harsh. A third, the open-handed slapping of suspects, drew much discussion. The idea was "just to shock someone with the physical impact," one lawyer explained, with "little chance of bone damage or tissue damage." Gonzales and the lawyers also discussed in great detail how to legally justify such methods...

Sources close to the Senate Judiciary Committee say a chief focus of the hearings will be Gonzales's role in the so-called "torture memo," as well as his legal judgment in urging Bush to sidestep the Geneva Conventions. In a Jan. 25, 2002, memo to Bush, Gonzales said the new war on terror "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners." Some State Department lawyers charge that Gonzales misrepresented so many legal considerations and facts (including hard conclusions by State's Southeast Asia bureau about the nature of the Taliban) that one lawyer considers the memo to be "an ethical breach."

By Michael Isikoff, Daniel Klaidman and Michael Hirsh


President's Statement on the U.N. International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Today, on United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the United States reaffirms its commitment to the worldwide elimination of torture. The non-negotiable demands of human dignity must be protected without reference to race, gender, creed, or nationality. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right, and we are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.

To help fulfill this commitment, the United States has joined 135 other nations in ratifying the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. America stands against and will not tolerate torture. We will investigate and prosecute all acts of torture and undertake to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment in all territory under our jurisdiction. American personnel are required to comply with all U.S. laws, including the United States Constitution, Federal statutes, including statutes prohibiting torture, and our treaty obligations with respect to the treatment of all detainees.

The United States also remains steadfastly committed to upholding the Geneva Conventions, which have been the bedrock of protection in armed conflict for more than 50 years. These Conventions provide important protections designed to reduce human suffering in armed conflict. We expect other nations to treat our service members and civilians in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. Our Armed Forces are committed to complying with them and to holding accountable those in our military who do not...

From the White House web site

Steadfastly Committed to Upholding the Geneva Conventions?

A heavily redacted June 25 FBI memo titled "URGENT REPORT" to the FBI director, provided details from someone "who observed serious physical abuses of civilian detainees" in Iraq.

"He described that such abuses included strangulation, beatings, placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees ear openings, and unauthorized interrogations," the document stated. The memo also mentioned "cover-up of these abuses."

War Crimes

Thursday, December 23, 2004; Page A22
Washington Post Editorial

THANKS TO a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA -- truths the Bush administration implacably has refused to acknowledge. Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration's whitewashers -- led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false.

Though they represent only part of the record that lies in government files, the documents show that the abuse of prisoners was already occurring at Guantanamo in 2002 and continued in Iraq even after the outcry over the Abu Ghraib photographs. FBI agents reported in internal e-mails and memos about systematic abuses by military interrogators at the base in Cuba, including beatings, chokings, prolonged sleep deprivation and humiliations such as being wrapped in an Israeli flag. "On a couple of occasions I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water," an unidentified FBI agent wrote on Aug. 2, 2004. "Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18 to 24 hours or more." Two defense intelligence officials reported seeing prisoners severely beaten in Baghdad by members of a special operations unit, Task Force 6-26, in June. When they protested they were threatened and pictures they took were confiscated...


4 Comments:

Blogger Grace Reid said...

Executive Order: TortureSenator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) told the Associated Press that Gonzales’ confirmation hearing "may be the only remaining forum in which to examine more fully the steps that were taken to weaken U.S. policy on torture in the period that led to the prison scandals at Abu Ghraib and Afghanistan." (He failed to mention Guantanamo here)

The release of the FBI e-mails by the ACLU is right on time for the AG confirmation hearings. I encourage everyone to read them for yourselves: http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia.

Operative words: Executive Order, Cover-up, What constitutes torture, Witnessed (but did not participate in)I take a great interest in the January 6 confirmation hearings, and want more information about what the confirmation process entails, i.e. once it gets to the floor of the Senate are there any time limits? Are there any limits to the questions they can ask Gonzales? Can they request documents? Is filibuster allowed, is it effective?

Thanks for your excellent site, Justina

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