Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘war crimes

Serious talk of war crimes

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From Dan Froomkin today:

The two-star general who led an Army investigation into the horrific detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib has accused the Bush administration of war crimes and is calling for accountability.

In his 2004 report on Abu Ghraib, then-Major General Anthony Taguba concluded that “numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees.” He called the abuse “systemic and illegal.” And, as Seymour M. Hersh reported in the New Yorker, he was rewarded for his honesty by being forced into retirement.

Now, in a preface to a Physicians for Human Rights report based on medical examinations of former detainees, Taguba adds an epilogue to his own investigation.

The new report, he writes, “tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individual’s lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

“The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full-scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted –both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

“In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. . . .

“After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

Pamela Hess of the Associated Press has more on the report, which resulted from “the most extensive medical study of former U.S. detainees published so far” and “found evidence of torture and other abuse that resulted in serious injuries and mental disorders.”

So if war crimes were committed, who’s responsible? …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

18 June 2008 at 11:11 am

The development of torture by the US

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The US has worked up its torture repertoire from various sources. This thorough article by Phillipe Sands in the Guardian explores the developments and the history of what occurred—and the lies that were told to the US public:

On Tuesday, December 2 2002, Donald Rumsfeld signed a piece of paper that changed the course of history. That same day, President Bush signed a bill to put the Pentagon in funds for the next year. The US faced unprecedented challenges, Bush told a large and enthusiastic audience, and terror was one of them. The US would respond to these challenges, and it would do so in the “finest traditions of valour”. And then he signed a large increase in the defence budget.

Elsewhere in the Pentagon, an event took place for which there was no comment, no fanfare. With a signature and a few scrawled words, Rumsfeld reneged on the tradition of valour to which Bush had referred. Principles for the conduct of interrogation, dating back more than a century to President Lincoln’s famous instruction of 1863 that “military necessity does not admit of cruelty”, were discarded. He approved new and aggressive interrogation techniques that would produce devastating consequences.

The document had been drafted a few days earlier by the general counsel at the Defence Department, William J Haynes II (known as Jim Haynes), Rumsfeld’s most senior lawyer. The Haynes memo was addressed to Rumsfeld and copied to two colleagues: General Richard Myers, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the most senior military official in the US, and Doug Feith, under-secretary of defence for policy and number three at the department.

Attached to the memorandum were four short documents. The first was a legal opinion written by Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver, a staff judge advocate at Guantánamo. The second, a request for approval of new methods of interrogating detainees from Beaver’s boss, Major General Mike Dunlavey, the army’s head of interrogation at Guantánamo. The third was a memorandum on similar lines from General Tom Hill, commander of US Southern Command (Southcom, covering Central and South America). Last, and most important, was a list of 18 techniques of interrogation, set out in a three-page memorandum.

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Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2008 at 10:38 am

US: haven for war criminals

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Big oversight in US law:

More than 1,000 people from 85 countries who are accused of such crimes as rape, killings, torture and genocide are living in the United States, according to Department of Homeland Security figures.

America has become a haven for the world’s war criminals because it lacks the laws needed to prosecute them, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday. There’s been only one U.S. indictment of someone suspected of a serious human-rights abuse. Durbin said torture was the only serious human-rights violation that was a crime under American law when committed outside the United States by a non-American national.

“This is unacceptable. Our laws must change and our determination to end this shameful situation must become a priority,” Durbin, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, said at a hearing of the subcommittee Wednesday.

He’s trying to get more information about specific cases.

One is that of Juan Romagoza Arce, the director of a clinic that provides free care for the poor in Washington. In 1980, Romagoza was a young doctor caring for the poor in El Salvador during the early period of his country’s civil war when the military seized him and tortured him for 22 days. An estimated 75,000 people died in the 12-year war.

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Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2007 at 9:57 am

Posted in Congress

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Who will be the next Torturer-In-Chief?

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Many candidates seem eager to embrace the idea of torture as a standard US practice:

George W. Bush has shoved American politics into the dark realm of the lunatic right, zipping past Joe McCarthy into territory previously covered by historical accounts of Germany in the 1940s. We’ve lost our right to see an attorney, to confront our accusers, even to get a fair trial. Government agents have kidnapped thousands of people, many of whom have never been heard from again. Bush even signed an edict claiming the right to assassinate anyone, including you and me, based solely on his whims. Torture, the ultimate sign that civilized society has been replaced by a police state, was repeatedly authorized by government officials who smirked the few times reporters had the temerity to ask them about it.

The 2000, 2004 and 2008 presidential elections have been and will prove to be decisive moments in American history. In each case the American people were offered a stark choice between a future of freedom and one under tyranny.

We must elect—by an overwhelming, theft-proof majority—a candidate who promises to renounce Bush and all his works. A reform-minded president’s first act should be to sign a law that reads as follows: “The federal government of the United States having been illegitimate and illegal since January 20, 2001, all laws, regulations, executive orders, and acts of commission or omission enacted between that infamous day and 12 noon Eastern Standard Time on January 20, 2009 are hereby declared invalid and without effect.” Guantánamo, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, spying on Americans’ phone calls and emails, and “legal” torture would be erased. Our troops should immediately pull out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Somalia; we should apologize to our victims and offer to compensate them and their survivors. Bush should never appear on any list of American presidents. When he dies, his carcass shouldn’t receive a state funeral. It ought to be thrown in the trash.

Unfortunately, no one like that is running for president. To the contrary, most of the major presidential candidates want to accelerate America’s slide into outright moral bankruptcy.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 2:07 pm

For Judge Mukasey: helpful info on waterboarding

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You’ll recall that Mukasey doesn’t know whether waterboarding is torture or not. This may help:

George Bush’s nomination of Michael Mukasey for U.S. attorney general — once thought to be smooth sailing — is experiencing a bit of turbulence. The problem is, Mukasey can’t bring himself to say whether or not waterboarding is torture:

During his confirmation hearings earlier this month, Mukasey said he believes torture violates the Constitution, but he refused to be pinned down on whether he believes specific interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, are constitutional.

“I don’t know what’s involved in the techniques. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional,” he said.

But after World War II, the United States government was quite clear about the fact that waterboarding was torture, at least when it was done to U.S. citizens:

[In] 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk.

“Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor,” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told his colleagues last Thursday during the debate on military commissions legislation. “We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when waterboarding was used against Americans in World War II,” he sai

Mukasey’s non-answer has raised doubts among Democrats, and even some Republicans, on the Senate Judiciary Committee:

[The] Democrats on the committee signed a joint letter to Mukasey, making sure that he knew what’s involved, and demanded an answer to the question as to whether waterboarding is torture.

Then two days later, the doubts grew louder. Two key Democrats, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT ) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) both said publicly that their votes depended on Mukasey’s answer to the waterboarding question.

Then it was Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who saw an opening after Rudy Giuliani refused to call waterboarding torture (”It depends on who does it.”). Most certainly it’s torture, McCain said. When pressed, he stopped short of saying that he would oppose Mukasey’s nomination if he didn’t say the same, but he added to the chorus of those who professed to be interested in what Mukasey’s answer to follow-up questions will be.

Yesterday, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) said that if Mukasey “does not believe that waterboarding is illegal, then that would really put doubts in my own mind.”

Rep. Arlen Specter (R-PA) has also thrown in his lot of doubts and concerns.

Of course, if the past is a guide, Mukasey will easily win nomination, and nearly all these senators who have expressed concern will vote for him.

Waterboarding has become an isssue because the Bush White House signed off on it as an interrogation technique — and thus moved the United States into the company of pariah states that permit torture — after the 9/11 attacks.

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2007 at 10:45 am

Murder 17 people, with immunity

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Nice. The Bush Administration has already promised Blackwater that the men who shot down the 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians will not face trial or punishment:

The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians, The Associated Press has learned.

The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.

“Once you give immunity, you can’t take it away,” said a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.

State Department officials declined to confirm or deny that immunity had been granted. One official, who refused to be quoted by name, said: “If, in fact, such a decision was made, it was done without any input or authorization from any senior State Department official in Washington.”

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Written by Leisureguy

29 October 2007 at 4:22 pm

Rumsfeld flees France to avoid arrest

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It is apparently untrue that he boarded a train wearing a dress, disguised as a woman. Here’s the story:

On Friday, while former Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld was visiting France, human rights groups based there and in the United States filed complaints against him, charging him with approving torture:

The French complaint accuses Mr. Rumsfeld of authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and says it violated the Convention Against Torture, which came into force in 1987.

As part of their complaint, the groups submitted 11 pages of written testimony from Janis Karpinski, the highest-ranking officer to be punished in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. She was demoted to colonel from brigadier general and lost command of her military police unit. She contended that the abuses at the prison had started after the appearance of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who was sent by Mr. Rumsfeld to assist military intelligence interrogators.

French prosecutors were said to have the power to pursue the case while Rumsfeld was in the country.

One source cites unconfirmed reports that Rumsfeld was abruptly whisked away from a breakfast meeting on Friday in order to avoid his arrest:

U.S. embassy officials whisked Rumsfeld away yesterday from a breakfast meeting in Paris organized by the Foreign Policy magazine after human rights groups filed a criminal complaint against the man who spearheaded President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” for six years.

Under international law, authorities in France are obliged to open an investigation when a complaint is made while the alleged torturer is on French soil.

The report said Rumsfeld fled to Germany because similar charges were dismissed against him there in the spring.The German court ruled that Rumsfeld’s criminality was an internal matter for the United States.

Written by Leisureguy

29 October 2007 at 12:58 pm

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