Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Serious Talk About War Crimes Prosecutions

By Debra Sweet
June 23, 2008

There are some rather extraordinary developments rapidly unfolding in Washington on one of those crimes that will forever be connected to the Bush regime: torture. More and more is coming out! Those of us determined to stop this need to perk up, pay attention, and make the most of this moment.

Lest you think I only read pieces that bolster what I already know, see The Wall Street Journal's editorial Tuesday, "The Torture Gambit." I think they are telling us something by their protesting too much!

Last week, the Supreme Court gave the Bush regime a third defeat in their attempt to deny Guantanamo detainees access to US courts. The Center for Constitutional Rights and others defending the detainees called it a surprising victory. As I've noted previously, the Mukasey Justice Department had to drop charges against one of the Guantanamo detainees they had before the Military Tribunal for trial, because the proceedings would certainly have revealed he was tortured.

Yesterday, Physicians for Human Rights released a stunning series of reports called "Broken Laws, Broken Lives" detailing the medical effects of so-called "Enhanced Interrogation" techniques planned in the White House.

Most extraordinary is that the preface to the reports is written by Maj. General Antionio Taguba who led the US Army's official investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, and was later fired by Donald Rumsfeld. Taguba says, "There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account."

Scott Horton, in his blog "No Comment" tackles the question: Could officials of the Bush Administration face war crimes charges? "In The New Republic, I examine that question and note that, far from this being an outlandish suggestion, criminal cases are in fact being prepared. Which is why the Bush Administration torture-team members need to think twice before boarding an airplane that will take them beyond the sheltering confines of the United States."

Philippe Sands, author of Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values was interviewed today on National Public Radio's Fresh Air.

Sands, an international lawyer, accuses former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld of condoning sensory deprivation and humiliation during interrogations at Guantanamo Bay. And he has a huge amount of evidence about the interrogation methods used. He is another who makes a compelling case for war crimes prosecutions.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is holdling hearings this week onhow these interrogation methods were adopted in 2002. Spencer Ackerman writes in The Washington Independent, "Tuesday the Senate Armed Services Committee answered those questions. In a marathon hearing spanning eight hours and three separate panels, the committee revealed, in painstaking detail, how senior Pentagon officials transformed a program for Special Forces troops to resist torture -- known as Survival Evasion Resistance Escape, or SERE -- into a blueprint for torturing terrorism detainees."

Democracy Now reports today, "The Senate investigation confirmed the Pentagon sought the help of military psychologists as early as 2002 to devise so-called aggressive interrogation techniques. Dr. Steven Reisner is a psychoanalyst and a leading critic of the American Psychological Association's policy governing the role of psychologists in interrogations. He is running for president of the APA and has received more nominating votes than any other candidate." Listen to Dr. Reisner.

56 members of Congress wrote Mukasey this week asking for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the torture, saying "This information indicates that the Bush administration may have systematically implemented, from the top down, detainee interrogation policies that constitute torture or otherwise violate the law,"

And, at the top, a President who says he approved the interrogations. "WE DO NOT TORTURE" is one of his biggest lies.

Last night, David Swanson of interviewed me on The People Speak Radio. You can listen here. Thanks for the kind comments, Mom and Dad!

Debra Sweet, Director, The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime

No comments: