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Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Terrorism | 5 comments

The New York Times Calls For Prosecution Of Those Responsible For Torture

In an editorial, The New York Times pointed out that Barack Obama “has failed to bring to justice anyone responsible for the torture of terrorism suspects.” They recommended prosecution of those responsible in light of the recent Senate report:

Americans have known about many of these acts for years, but the 524-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report erases any lingering doubt about their depravity and illegality: In addition to new revelations of sadistic tactics like “rectal feeding,” scores of detainees were waterboarded, hung by their wrists, confined in coffins, sleep-deprived, threatened with death or brutally beaten. In November 2002, one detainee who was chained to a concrete floor died of “suspected hypothermia.”

These are, simply, crimes. They are prohibited by federal law, which defines torture as the intentional infliction of “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” They are also banned by the Convention Against Torture, the international treaty that the United States ratified in 1994 and that requires prosecution of any acts of torture.

So it is no wonder that today’s blinkered apologists are desperate to call these acts anything but torture, which they clearly were. As the report reveals, these claims fail for a simple reason: C.I.A. officials admitted at the time that what they intended to do was illegal.

The New York Times joins others in dismissing the excuses of apologists for torture and calls for an independent criminal investigation:

No amount of legal pretzel logic can justify the behavior detailed in the report. Indeed, it is impossible to read it and conclude that no one can be held accountable. At the very least, Mr. Obama needs to authorize a full and independent criminal investigation.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch are to give Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. a letter Monday calling for appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate what appears increasingly to be “a vast criminal conspiracy, under color of law, to commit torture and other serious crimes.”

The editorial named those who should be held accountable:

But any credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos. There are many more names that could be considered, including Jose Rodriguez Jr., the C.I.A. official who ordered the destruction of the videotapes; the psychologists who devised the torture regimen; and the C.I.A. employees who carried out that regimen.

One would expect Republicans who have gone hoarse braying about Mr. Obama’s executive overreach to be the first to demand accountability, but with one notable exception, Senator John McCain, they have either fallen silent or actively defended the indefensible. They cannot even point to any results: Contrary to repeated claims by the C.I.A., the report concluded that “at no time” did any of these techniques yield intelligence that averted a terror attack. And at least 26 detainees were later determined to have been “wrongfully held.”

This should happen, but we know it will not. It is not only a matter of morality. As I discussed recently, not only does torture not work, but its use corrupts governments which rely upon it and undermine legitimate forms of intelligence gathering.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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  • SteveK

    It’s lucky for the Cheney’s and the Bush’s that they never wanted to leave the United States…

    • It would sure be interesting if any of them were ever arrested while out of the country.

  • JSpencer

    “This should happen, but we know it will not.”

    That’s about the long and short of it. People like Cheney and friends may be well insulated from accountability in this realm, but the karma they’re carrying around isn’t going to let them off the hook forever…

  • The_Ohioan

    A reputable special prosecutor was appointed, did a long investigation, and made the decision that there wasn’t enough evidence to indict.

    http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/statement-attorney-general-eric-holder-closure-investigation-interrogation-certain-detainees

    Somewhere those grand jurors are still remembering all the evidence they heard and I’m no lawyer, but it seems they could be reconvened at any time – with the same or a different S.P.

    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2011/06/13/durham-targeting-more-contractors/

    I don’t expect this president or even the next to pursue this unless the Republican members of congress are convinced that it is in their best interest that be done. I keep pointing out that they could increase their influence considerably should they embrace an investigation. Until they do, this is an albatross around their collective necks.

  • ShannonL

    Considering that the torture environment and possible direction came from the White House, Obama will not be pursuing this out of Presidential courtesy. Lest he be indicted for god knows what by the next President.

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