Sunday, January 11, 2009

Torture. It's just wrong.

David Swanson of After Downing Street presents the results of a new report. Here are his opening paragraphs:

President Bush and his aides repeatedly ignored warnings that their torture plans were illegal from high State Department officials as well as the nation’s top uniformed legal officers, the Judge Advocates General of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, a new published report states.

"These warnings of illegality and immorality given by knowledgeable and experienced (government) persons were ignored by the small group of high Executive officers who were determined that America would torture and abuse its prisoners and who had the decision-making power to secretly require this to be done," said Lawrence Velvel, chairman of the "Steering Committee of the Justice Robert H. Jackson Conference On Planning For The Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals." Velvel is a noted reformer in the field of American legal education.
[Emphasis mine]

Note well that serious voices from multiple governmental agencies and the military all warned against using torture.

And the Bush Crime Regime forged ahead on their illegal, immoral, and counterproductive course.

Among the objections:
# William Howard Taft IV, the Legal Advisor to the State Department whose 40-page memo of January 11, 2002 warned Bush’s claim the Geneva Conventions were not applicable to prisoners held by the U.S. could subject Bush to prosecution for war crimes. State Department lawyer David Bowker further warned "there is no such thing" as a person that is not covered by the Geneva Conventions. # The Defense Department’s own Criminal Investigative Task Force headed by Col. Brittain Mallow warned Haynes that tactics used at Guantanamo could be illegal. His warning were ignored by Haynes, whose position was based on statements of Yoo and Chertoff. # FBI Director Robert Mueller barred FBI agents from participating in coercive CIA interrogations, "a warning-fact well known to many in the Executive," the Steering Committee Report said. Also, Marion Bowman, head of the FBI’s national security law section in Washington called lawyers in Jim Haynes’ office in the Pentagon to express his concern but said he never heard back. # David Brant, head of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service learned about the torture and abuse at Guantanamo and took the position that "it just ain’t right" and expressed his concern to Army officials in command authority over military interrogators at Guantanamo but "they did not care," the Report said. # A senior CIA intelligence analyst that visited Guantanamo in 2002 reported back that the U.S. was committing war crimes there and that one-third of the detainees had no connection to terrorism. The report alarmed Rice’s lawyer John Bellinger and National Security Council terrorism expert General John Gordon but their concerns were "flatly rejected and ignored" by Addington, Flanigan and Gonzales, as well as by Rumsfeld’s office. # Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora carried his concern over Guantanamo torture to Haynes and to Mary Walker, head of a Pentagon working group that was drafting a DOD memo based on Yoo’s work that authorized torture. Mora said what was occurring at Guantanamo was "at a minimum cruel and unusual treatment, and, at worst, torture." His warning was ignored.
Velvel has more to say:
"If Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and others are not prosecuted," Velvel said, "the future could be threatened by additional examples of Executive lawlessness by leaders who need fear no personal consequences for their actions, including more illegal wars such as Iraq."
[Emphasis mine once again]

Well, yes.

Those who have been paying attention realize that the rule of law has been repeatedly flouted and seriously threatened. My own not so humble opinion is that until the Bush administration crimes are publicly dealt with we cannot, at this time, claim to be a nation of law or that the United States Constitution still means anything enforceable.

And I am passionate about the Constitution.
--the BB


it's margaret said...

Amen. I too hope we will see the day. However, I do think Pelosi's 'do not prosecute' stance has won the white house for the time being. --so, should savvy politics trump the law? Not in my book--but I think that's where it has been.... 'cha know what I mean?

Paul said...

Margaret, I actually believe that was the strategy and will even concede that it played a role. The crunch comes in trying to evaluate whether that was a compromise worth making for the long run.

We have a Dem president, or will in a not too many days, who seems geared to do as much as he can to turn this nation around, and that is a VERY good thing. Whether we re-establish the pre-eminence of law over imperial executive power remains to be seen, and if we cannot we will have lost our democracy altogether. It was a huge gamble and we won't know for a while whether it pays off or not.

I still believe there was and is a moral imperative to uphold the Constitution.

But I take your point.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Another Nürnberg is what is needed.

Paul said...

I quite agree, Göran. Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Yoo and Gonzales can stand in the dock with Mugabe and the ghost of Pinochet, et al.

Gary Baumgarten said...

David Swanson will be my guest on News Talk Online on at 5 PM New York time Wednesday January 14 to discuss president-elect Obama's pledge to close Guantanamo Bay and whether the U.S. human rights policies will improve under the new administration.

To talk to Swanson please go to and click on the Join The Chat Room button.