Wednesday, March 25, 2009

American values??

Captives were routinely beaten, slammed head first into walls, forced to stand for days, with their arms shackled above them (the John McCain experience in North Korea)–and some were waterboarded.

These are not words about some third world dictatorship. These are the words about U.S. policy--- from a leaked International Committee of the Red Cross report----as a result of their access to 14 “high value” detainees after they were transferred from overseas CIA “black sites” to Guantanamo.The report concluded that the Bush administration treatment of al-Qaeda captives “constituted torture”.

Retired CIA agent John Kiriakou, who led a CIA team that interrogated al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah, confirmed the use of waterboarding and considered it a form of torture.

The U.S. Army Field Manual classifies such treatment, including waterboarding as torture.

These interrogation techniques are a violation of the Geneva Convention, an agreement the United States has signed and pledged to uphold.

The War Crimes Act of 1996, passed by a Republican Congress, makes it a felony to violate the Geneva Convention .

Four military prosecutors at Guantanamo have resigned under protest over the rigged “legal” system established by the Bush administration.

What excuse is even remotely adequate to justify not pursuing an investigation and prosecution of those in high office that have led the United States down such a path?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

According to the Ft. Myers, Florida News Press editorial opinion, investigating and pursuing the lawless behavior or the Bush administration, should be viewed as a “fruitless partisan vendetta”. Even as the editorial presents its case for doing nothing, it concedes its speculation “that such transgressions occurred”, justifying them as “essentially policy” decisions.

Therefore the editorial logic is that illegal wiretapping and torture should not be investigated or prosecuted because those in authority that facilitated and executed the “transgressions” were merely following policy orders. This was the Nuremberg defense (“we were only following orders”), that the U.S. and the world so eloquently denounced at the post war trial.

President Bush and Vice President Cheney have conceded authorizing the use of “harsh” techniques that included waterboarding. Waterboarding is defined as torture by the Geneva Convention, common sense and the Army Field Manual.The War Crimes Act of 1996, passed by a Republican Congress, makes it a felony to violate the Geneva Conventions.

A U.S. district judge, in a stinging indictment ruled that President Bush’s domestic spying program violated the U.S. Constitution. George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley points out that if that decision is upheld on appeal, the President will be guilty of 30 federal law violations.

The real question is whether we, as the world’s leading democracy, are assuring our future by abandoning legal values and principles--- if their enforcement (defense of) includes the uncomfortable investigation and prosecution of those that we elect to uphold those very values and principles.

The answer lies in what separates us from dictatorships.