Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category
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That’s how many times the illegal, unethical, immoral and unjustified “harsh interrogation method” known as waterboarding was used “sparingly” by agents of the CIA under the authorization of the Bush administration.
That’s how many times it was used on two men, both al-Qaeda operatives, AFTER they’d already given up any useful information they had.
This was not interrogation. It was revenge. It was punishment. It was torture.
And it was wrong. The men who wrote the memos authorizing it should be condemned, prosecuted and put in prison for a very long time. The men who did the torture must be brought to justice. And the so-called “leaders” who still, against all available evidence, insist it was necessary we do this to protect our national security should be held accountable to their crimes.
And maybe they should be waterboarded, but that’s not for me to say. I doubt Cheney or Bush would survive even the first five waterboardings, much less 266. Perhaps 266 years in prison for each of them, one year for each time this act of vicious revenge was committed, would suffice.
266. Six times a day for a month for Khalid Shayk Mohammed.
266. That’s what Bush & Cheney thought was “justified.”
266. The new Number of the Beast. Further proof, if we needed it, that neither of them have any morals whatsoever. This was not about protecting America. This was nothing more than abuse. This was torture.
Tags: wordpress political blogs
Who knew the candidate who campaigned on a promise of change would turn out to be such a spineless wimp?
I speak of the week’s news that President Obama has decided not to hold the Bush Administration and its coven of lawyers – Yoo, Bybee, Addington, Bradbury, Rizzo, Gonzales – will not, in fact, be held accountable for the crimes against humanity they committed during the so-called “war on terror”.
In a statement on Thursday, the President made this incomprehensible statement regarding accountability:
“This is a time for reflection, not retribution… nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”
This is not about retribution. It’s about justice. When we fail to hold those in positions of leadership accountable for their actions, we lose our moral legitemacy in the world. If we fail to prosecute Bush et al. for actions that Obama’s own justice department has acknowledged are, in fact, criminal in nature, then we are no better than the worst of our enemies.
In order to “more forward”, we must revisit the sins of the past and excise them. Now that we know more of the crimes committed by Bush, Cheney, Gonzales and their cronies, we must act swiftly and deliberately to hold them accountable.
Anything less is unacceptable. This is not about retribution. It’s about justice. They committed crimes; they MUST be held accountable.
Should we have “looked forward” after World War II and NOT held the Nazis accountable for their actions?
Should the Cambodians “look forward” and ignore the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge?
Should suffering Zimbabweans, if they ever pull out of the tyranny of Mugabe and ZANU-PF, “look forward” and not demand justice?
Should the long-suffering people of North Korea “look forward” and not demand justice if they ever emerge from their decades-long nightmare?
The souls of the dead cry out for justice, Mr. President. The tortured demand it in their screams. If you do not cleanse the stain of the Bush Administration from our national soul, then you are as guilty as they are. And worse, you will enable future tyrants and dictators here and abroad to “get away with it”.
Justice, Mr. President. That’s all we ask. Justice. It must be done, no matter how painful, difficult or embarrassing.
Tags: wordpress political blogs
A report from the International Committee for the Red Cross on CIA detentions and torture, recently released to the public, has shed the white light of truth on the previous administration’s darkest secrets.
It reads like something from the Nuremberg Trials or the Vietnam era. It describes the ordeals of fourteen “high value detainees” who were subjected to some of the worst treatment the CIA “interrogators” gave to their prisoners. In one example, detainee Abu Zubaydah described a fairly standard transfer flight:
“The detainee would be made to wear a diaper and dressed in a tracksuit. Earphones would be placed over his ears, through which music would sometimes be played. He would be blindfolded with at least a cloth tied around the head and black goggles. … He does not know how long the transfer took but, prior to the transfer, he reported being told by his detaining authorities that he would be going on a journey that would last twenty-four to thirty hours.
“The detainee … would usually be transported in a reclined sitting position with his hands shackled in front. …The detainee was not allowed to go to the toilet and if necessary was obliged to urinate and defecate into the diaper.” (ICRC Report, page 7)
Lovely. I’ve always said that the acid test for whether a given action is torture or not is if we’d put someone on trial for doing it to our people. This stuff sounds like the worst of the stories from forced-labor camps in Soviet Russia. And as usual, it’s not the worst. No, what’s worse is the way the CIA, under the direction of the Bush administration, corrupted the function of doctors in support of its heinous crimes.
“During the course of their detention, detainees described three principal roles for health personnel whom they encountered. Firstly, there was a direct role in monitoring the ongoing ill-treatment which, in some circumstances, involved the health personnel directly participating while certain methods were used. Secondly, there was a role in performing a medical check just prior to, and just after, each transfer. Finally, there was the provision of healthcare, to treat both the direct consequences of ill-treatment detailed in previous sections, and to treat any natural ailments that arose during the prolonged periods of detention.
“… In some cases it was alleged that, based on their assessments, health personnel gave instructions to interrogators to continue, to adjust or to stop particular methods.” (ICRC report, pp. 21-22)
In one case a detainee was told by a doctor, “I look after your body only because we need you for information.”
And you thought Cheney and Bush couldn’t sink any lower. This almost precisely mirrors the way medical personnel were used by the North Vietnamese on our soldiers.
Don’t give me any shit about “they were trying to kill us” or “those people are the worst of the worst”. Nothing justifies this – NOTHING. It offends me as a veteran, and it should offend the honor and morality of every American citizen. Bush and Cheney led us down the path of immorality, and they need to pay for it.
We should bring them up on charges of war crimes and torture, before someone else does, just to show the world that WE DON’T TOLERATE THIS.
Tags: wordpress political blogs
Why are contracts sacred when they’re signed by executives but fungible when signed by unionized line workers? And why is Obama treating the car companies so differently from the way he’s been treating the banks and finance sector?
A European human rights lawyer has demanded that our former dictator president and other high-ranking members of his administration be brought to the Hague and forced to stand trial for human rights violations and abuses.
In an interview with the German public television network ZDF, Austrian human rights lawyer Manfred Nowak, UN special rapporteur on torture, said that numerous cases of torture ordered by U.S. officials and perpetrated by U.S. authorities are well documented.
“We possess all the evidence which proves that the torture methods used in interrogation by the U.S. government were explicitly ordered by former U.S. defence minister Donald Rumsfeld,” Nowak told ZDF. “Obviously, these orders were given with the highest U.S. authorities’ knowledge.”
“George W. Bush is without doubt responsible for crimes such as torture,” says Dietmar Herz, professor of political science at the university of Erfurt, 235 km southwest of Berlin.
“According to the U.S. constitution, the U.S. president is responsible for all actions carried out by the executive,” Herz told IPS. “Therefore, George W. Bush is responsible for the torture methods used by U.S. authorities, such as waterboarding.”
Their crimes are well known. It is well documented by now that specific acts of torture, such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation, “stress positions”, sexual degredation, and myriad other barbaric acts were authorized by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and authorized by George W. Bush. And since ultimate responsibility for acts committed in the name of the executive lies with the chief executive (in other words, the Captain is responsible for the conduct of his crew), Bush is the man who must answer for these crimes.
Not that that should stop anyone from bringing the rest up on charges. They knew what they were doing, and they knew it was wrong. Cheney and Rumsfeld are just as culpable in this as Bush is. They should stand trial right alongside him and, if possible, share a prison cell with him, where they can spend the rest of their days repeating their ridiculous defense that torture isn’t torture because they said it isn’t.
So, will it happen? Will these cretins finally have to account for their crimes? Will there truly be justice for these moral midgets? Doubtful. While the U.N. talks a good game vis-a-vis human rights and war crimes, its record on actually prosecuting them is spotty. So far, only heads of state from failed states, weakened southeastern European states, or the southern hemisphere have been brought to trial. No leader of a truly powerful country has ever had to stand before the court and defend himself.
International justice against crimes against humanity began in 1945, with the Nuremberg trials against Nazi criminals, says Kaleck. Leading prosecutor Robert Jackson said at the opening of the trials in October 1945 that “we are able to do away with…tyranny and violence and aggression by those in power against the rights of (the) people…only when we make all men answerable to the law.”
But since then this promise has been fulfilled only in exceptional cases, Kaleck said.
“Crimes against humanity have been repeatedly committed ever since, but very few people have been brought before international courts for these crimes,” he said, adding that this impunity is particularly obvious for leaders of the Allied countries (such as the U.S., France and Britain), who had organised the Nuremberg trials.
Nobody was ever judged for crimes against humanity committed in Algeria by France, in Vietnam and Latin America by the U.S., in Afghanistan by the Soviet Union and in Chechnya by Russia.
Only in the 1990s, after the Yugoslav wars of secession, the Rwanda genocide, and civil wars in countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone were state criminals captured, judged and convicted.
“The creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002 in The Hague in the Netherlands marks a turning point in the prosecution of state officials accused of crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity or of war,” Kaleck added.
But prosecution for crimes of war or for crimes against humanity continues to be highly selective. So far, only perpetrators from weak or failed states from south-eastern Europe, or from the south, especially Africa, have been brought to court. In a case such as that of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Britain acted as an accomplice to protect him.
I don’t expect this to change any time soon. Bush still has legions of sycophants willing to defend him and his actions, right or wrong. And given his nearly legendary narrow-minded lack of interest in foreign travel, I doubt he’ll be leaving the country anytime soon. So unless President Obama shows the courage to extradite him to the War Crimes court, there will be no justice. And Bush will continue to be a colossal embarrassment for the United States for years to come.