Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Washington Post Endorses Abu Ghraib scapegoating for torture

The Washington Post Editorial Page -- keeper of all establishment Washington wisdom -- today advocates that low-level CIA interrogators who went beyond John Yoo's torture guidelines, and only them, be criminally investigated and prosecuted by the Justice Department:

We reject the distorted interpretations that underpin the OLC memos and that serve as legal justification for harsh interrogation techniques that either border on or constitute torture. But those who relied on the memos and shaped their behavior in the good-faith belief that they were following the law should not be subject to prosecution. It is an entirely different story for those who went well beyond the often-extreme measures authorized by the memos.
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Note the distortions on which the Post Editors rely in order to justify their two-tiered justice system. DOJ torture-authorizing memos should shield those who acted in accordance with them because they were created and followed in "good faith." That assertion is groundless and false.
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A recently released report from five Inspectors General makes clear that Dick Cheney and David Addington selected Yoo to write these memos because they knew in advance that he'd approve of whatever they wanted to do. This process was the opposite of "good faith": what happened was that the highest-level political officials wanted to break the law, and so they found a hardened ideologue at the DOJ willing to write memos to classify those crimes as legal. To describe that process as "good faith" is to twist that phrase beyond recognition. It was blatant criminality accompanied by advanced bureaucratic cover from John Yoo -- the same person who wrote memos advising the President that not even the Bill of Rights could constrain his actions.
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/07/27/washington_justice/index.html

As I understand it, according to the Geneva Conventions, those who authorised, and those who are party to the authorisation of War Crimes, are guilty of an offense. In this case all those Administration officials such as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice plus some members of the Senate and Congress, who were informed about the harsh interrogation techniques (waterboarding etc), should face criminal trials.

One should note the seriousness of these actions since many innocent people have been killed thanks to the green light given to torture (see full article). Responsibility for these outcomes must lie with those involved in authorising the harsh measures that involved pain infliction that (paraphrasing) "did not leave any permanent physical scarring". Punishment could therefore be extreme so long as the subject was likely to recover.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, July 29th, 2009.]

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