Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Obama protects the torturers

"We tortured some folks", was Barack Obama's folksy admission that officials within the Bush administration and CIA sanctioned and orchestrated these systematically perpetrated international law violations and human rights abuses of their detainees. A similarly folksy response can be given to the question of whether they will be prosecuted for these felonies: Nope.

Shortly after banning the use of "enhanced interrogation methods" (one of the most fatuous and contemptibly evasive propaganda euphemisms even linguistically constructed) in 2009, the Obama administration outright refused to prosecute those who permitted and ordered barbarism such as potentially lethal waterboarding, stress positions, sensory deprivation, and threats of violence and death against detainees and their family members, despite the use of torture most often resulting in false intelligence being provided by those subjected to them. To paraphrase former Navy SEAL Jesse Ventura: "Give me Dick Cheney and a waterboard and I'll get him to confess to the Charles Manson murders."

In 2009, Spain levelled (but then dropped) criminal charges against six figures from the Defense and Justice (how Orwellian) departments responsible for organizing the Bush administration's torture human rights abuses and war crimes. To me the vilest of them all is John Yoo, the Attorney General who through technicalities and legalese constructed the internal justifications that torture methods such as waterboarding were not implicitly constitutionally "cruel and unusual punishment", or illegal. It was Yoo who stated that threatening to crush the testicles of a detainee's child was fair game in the name of military intelligence gathering. But the UN Convention Against Torture says otherwise.

In refusing to prosecute these international criminals, the Obama administration abandoned any pretension that it would take the moral high ground regarding the contempt of international law seen in the Bush era. Patronizing, self-serving promises of "reform" or "resolution" will not do. Anyone who cares about the idealized basic ethical values of modern civilization should fight for the Bush administration torturers to be behind the dock at the International Criminal Court.

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