Hat tip: The Columbus Free Press
by Pete Johnson
The Columbus Free Press [and The Liberty Voice] strongly support prosecution of former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney for their active approval of torture.
Torture was discussed in White House meetings of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee, a selected team of senior officials that were advising president on the matters regarding national security policy. Efforts to prosecute Bush/Cheney and others responsible for attempting to create legal justification for torture are gaining momentum. Bush and Cheney should face prosecution for other high crimes and misdemeanors, detailed here.
On April 16th, the Obama administration released four documents to the ACLU in response to a Freedom of Information request. These documents provided a new legal justification for torture, essentially nullifying previous United States policy.
Prosecution of six Bush subordinates by Spanish prosecutors is underway. The six defendants—are former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Federal Appeals Court Judge and former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, University of California law professor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, former Defense Department general counsel and current Chevron lawyer William J. Haynes II, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff David Addington, and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith—are accused of having given the green light to the torture and mistreatment of prisoners held in U.S. detention in “the war on terror.”
The report from the International Red Cross, leaked in mid march, documented in great detail the specific tortures that were inflicted upon 14 high value detainees. The full report is here. The details are appalling. One such approved technique was the use of insects on prisoners held in a small confinement box. Other techniques included prolonged nudity, beating with use of a collar, exposure to extreme cold temperatures, and of course, waterboarding. The report contained the recommendation that “the US authorities investigate all allegations of ill-treatment and take steps to punish the perpetrators, where appropriate, and to prevent such abuses from happening again.”
These 14 “high value” prisoners may well have been guilty of some involvement in terrorist activity. This separates them from many tortured prisoners who appear to be innocent. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a Republican who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, who told the Associated Press that “there are still innocent people there” and “some have been there six or seven years.” Another likely innocent was Dilawar, the Afgan taxi driver who was beaten to death by American soldiers while being held in extrajudicial detention at the Bagram Air Base, as portrayed in the documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side”.
>According to IndictBushNow.org, this report presents direct evidence of the brutality and illegality of the Bush/Cheney Administration’s torture regime. The officials’ actions constitute violations of international law including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the United States ratified in 1992, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the United States ratified in 1994. Article 17 of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949 prohibits torture of prisoners and Article 32 of the Fourth Geneva Convention similarly protects civilian detainees.
The Obama administration released four documents to the ACLU in response to a Freedom of Information request on April 16th. These were the documents written by the Office of Legal Counsel by Jay Bybee and John Yoo which were intended to provide legal justification for these torture techniques. According to the ACLU, “the torture memos should never have been written — the actions they justified violated domestic and international law and damaged America’s reputation in the world. They authorized interrogators to use the most barbaric interrogation methods, including methods that the U.S. once prosecuted as war crimes. It’s now the Justice Department’s responsibility to make sure that the architects of the torture program are held accountable. Senior officials who authorized torture should not be shielded from investigation”.
Although the American people have not yet pressured Obama into holding the previous administration accountable for their crimes, Spanish prosecutors are moving forward. According to Indict BushNow.org,
“Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo,” according to Scott Horton, law professor and writer for Harper’s Magazine and The American Lawyer. We are expecting a decision this week,” the Spanish prosecutor’s office told the Associated Press on April 14.
The Red Cross’ demand for prosecution echoes the call from Ramsey Clark (former Attorney General of the United States) and the IndictBushNow movement: “Indiscriminate killing of civilians, summary execution, arbitrary seizures of people and property, secret unlimited detention and torture have been authorized and widely practiced.”
IndictBushNow.org asks for support:
“We have extraordinary momentum on our side right now and we must seize the moment to make indictment and prosecution a reality. Publicizing the indictment movement requires placing newspaper ads, organizing national call-in days to pressure Congressional representatives, intensive media work, teach-ins and educational forums.”
Please consider supporting the American Civil Liberties Union and IndictBushNow.org by signing the petition or donating to the cause.
Indict Bush Now home page.
Without prosecution, a future American President is free to follow in the footsteps of George W. Bush. America learned that President Richard Nixon broke the law with impunity but did not insist on a prison sentence. This effort to “look forward” created the opportunity for another lawless administration to come to power, with many of the same characters involved in both administrations. This last sentence could reference the Bush/Reagan administration (Iran Contra, October Surprise) as well as the Bush/Cheney administration (Torture, warrantless surveillance, and more). We cannot allow a future administration to move forward with torture, using the Bush administration policies as a starting point.
MSNBC Keith Olberman’s special comment challenges President Obama to prosecute, includes these words:
“President Obama, it is your responsibility to make sure (torture) cannot be re-created. Forgive me for quoting from a Comment I offered the night before the inauguration. But this goes to the core of the President’s commendable, but wholly naive, intention. This country has never “moved forward with confidence” without first cleansing itself of its mistaken past.
“In point of fact, every effort to merely draw a line in the sand and declare the past dead has served only to keep the past alive and often to strengthen it.”