Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Courtroom Phase of Torture

If there's something more to do about ending torture, I mean to do it. I think it's a good time to join with the United Nations in criminalizing what the worst administration in history is doing to its victims.

From United Nations Assembly Resolution 39, which went into effect in 1987 with the U.S. joining 73 other signatories:

Desiring to make more effective the struggle against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment throughout the world,

Have agreed as follows:

Article 1
1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

The terminology you just read seems pretty clear, but yet in our suborned Department of Justice, there were ideologues who thought they could circumvent that resolution. Under John Yoo, the subhumans in the White House thought they could destroy basic decency in this country's standard of behavior.

The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) confirmed Friday afternoon that it has launched a formal investigation to determine whether agency attorneys provided the White House with poor legal advice when it drafted legal opinions authorizing CIA interrogators to use waterboarding against so-called high-level terrorist detainees to extract information about alleged plots against the United States.

The investigation was launched after an article published [click here(sic)] by this reporter last week revealed that the author of the August 2002 legal opinion, John Yoo, a former attorney in the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), relied on a health benefits statute to form the legal basis for waterboarding and other "enhanced" interrogation techniques, an OPR official at OPR said in an interview this afternoon. (For the article linked at "click here", please see the linked post.)

The trail is being followed, and there will be a reckoning for these enemies of our country, who endanger all of its representatives, most particularly its troops. More action to defend our honor as Americans will follow.

Today two members of the defense team of Abu Zubaydah talked about the prospect of interviewing this Gitmo detainee, who has been tortured and forced to confess, whether or not he was guilty.

We do not presume to know the truth. So far, we know only what has been publicly reported. But we hope to uncover the facts and present them to those with the power to act upon them.

Yet Zubaydah's mind may be beyond our reach. Regardless of whether he was "insane" to begin with, he has gone through quite an ordeal since his arrest in Pakistan in March 2002. Shuttled through CIA "black sites" around the world, he was subjected to a sustained course of interrogation designed to instill what a CIA training manual euphemistically calls "debility, dependence and dread." Zubaydah's world became freezing rooms alternating with sweltering cells. Screaming noise replaced by endless silence. Blinding light followed by dark, underground chambers. Hours confined in contorted positions. And, as we recently learned, Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding. We do not know what remains of his mind, and we will probably never know what he experienced.
The American system of justice is founded on the idea that truth emerges from vigorous and informed debate. And if that debate cannot take place, if we cannot learn the facts and share them with others, the truth is only what the administration reports it to be. We hope it has not come to that.(Emphasis added.)

The administration that has outdone itself in bad judgment and rejection of basic American standards of decency will never be judged by the words of its torture victims, because those words can never be accepted as information or as truth. The words of some one who has been broken cannot stand against the confessions that were extracted from them. It is rather the crime of torture itself that has to be used as evidence.

That anyone has committed torture is information enough for the court to condemn them. The officials who have given the rationale in legalisms, those who authorized this criminal behavior those who have spread that misinformation, as well as those who have actually committed the crime itself, should be punished.

The trial phase has arrived, and we need to keep up a steady beat of condemnation, and demand that our representatives restore our national soul. Without that step, we are all war criminals, too.

I demand that torture be punished.

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Anonymous larry, dfh said...

It's goog thatYoo is being kept in the spotlight. Hopefully, eventually the assholes at U.C. Berkeley who hired him will be forced to reconsider. It sickens me that the criminals have always been able to find shelter within our higher education establishment.

11:27 AM  

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