Six Months After the CIA Torture Report, We’re Still Waiting for Accountability

25.6.15

An excerpt from the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report into the CIA's post-9/11 torture program, showing some of the redactions.I’m sure many of us remember where we were on December 9, 2014, when, two years after it was completed, the 500-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s five-year, 6,700-page, $40m report into the CIA’s post-9/11 torture report was released, which I wrote about here and here.

It was a momentous occasion, for which Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and everyone who worked with her to compile the report and and to publish it (or its executive summary, at least), deserve profound thanks. In dark times, in which the US system of checks and balances has gone awry, this was a bright light in the darkness. It also caused British commentators like myself to reflect on the fact that it was something that would never happen in the UK.

That said, however, the widespread sense of horror that greeted the publication of the executive summary, with its profoundly disturbing details that were unknown before — like the “rectal feeding” of prisoners for example — has not, in the six months since, led to firm action to hold accountable those who authorized and implemented the program, which is, of course, unacceptable. As I wrote at the time in my article for Al-Jazeera:

In the days and weeks to come, there will be concerted efforts by the CIA and by former Bush administration officials to defend their actions, but the report makes clear that any kind of defense is untenable. Crimes were committed, authorized at the highest level of the US government, and, although Obama came into office in 2009 expressing “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards”, that is not acceptable.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report … must be the trigger not just for an airing of apologies, but for those who instigated and authorized the torture program to be held accountable — up to and including President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The full executive summary of the torture report is posted below, if anyone has not yet seen it:

 

Following the publication of the torture report, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and Human Rights Watch sent a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder requesting him to appoint a Special Prosecutor for Torture. In the letter, dated December 22, 2014, the two organizations urged him “to conduct a full investigation of violations of federal criminal laws relating to the rendition, detention, and interrogation (‘RDI’) of prisoners held or questioned by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) since the September 11, 2001 attacks. While the Department of Justice has conducted an investigation into some aspects of this matter already [under John Durham from 2009-11], the recently released summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (‘SSCI’) Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program (‘Senate torture report’) includes significant new information relating to the commission of serious federal crimes, including torture, homicide, conspiracy, and sexual assault. In light of the disclosure of this information, we ask that you ensure the investigation’s independence, and the appearance of independence, by appointing a special prosecutor; provide the prosecutor with files from the investigation completed by John Durham and his investigators, as well as the full 6,700-page version of the Senate torture report; and ask the prosecutor to conduct a comprehensive criminal investigation of the conduct described in the report, including all acts authorizing or ordering that conduct.”

Eric Holder left office shortly afterwards, to be replaced by Loretta Lynch, who has not made accountability for torture a priority in her new job.

Tomorrow, however (June 26), it is the annual International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, introduced by the United Nations in 1997 to mark the entry into force of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on June 26, 1987, when all decent people will be remembering the victims of torture, calling for an end to its use, and also calling for accountability for those who have authorized and implemented its use.

To mark the occasion, Amnesty International, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and Human Rights Watch submitted a letter to Loretta Lynch “urging the appointment of a special prosecutor,” which was essentially an update of the letter to Eric Holder, and which was signed by 111,788 concerned individuals, and the American Bar Association (ABA), which has nearly 400,000 members worldwide, also submitted a letter to the Attorney General, urging the US government “to pursue vigorously (1) the investigation of violations of law, including the War Crimes Act and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with respect to the mistreatment or rendition of persons within the custody or under the physical control of the United States government, and (2) appropriate proceedings against persons who may have committed, assisted, authorized, condoned, had command responsibility for, or otherwise participated in such violations.”

In addition, 100 rights organizations around the world submitted a statement to the UN Human Rights Council to “demand that the United States take measures to meet the full spectrum of its obligations under international law to ensure accountability, transparency, reparations and non-repetition, including declassification of the full Senate report on the CIA detention program, independent comprehensive criminal investigation, and the issuing of apologies and compensation to victims of enforced disappearance, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” As they note, “Continued impunity is a dark chapter in the history of the United States that threatens to undermine the universally-recognized prohibition against torture and other abusive treatment, and sends the dangerous message to U.S. and foreign officials that there will be no consequences for future abuses.” They also note, “Other governments implicated in the CIA torture program must also be held accountable.”

I’m cross-posting below the full text of the statement submitted to the UN, and below that I’m also taking this opportunity to provide a reminder of what the New York Times said in a powerful, hard-hitting editorial after the executive summary of the torture report was published, by cross-posting that editorial, entitled, “Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses.”

COALITION STATEMENT TO U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DEMANDING ACCOUNTABILITY ON CIA TORTURE PROGRAM

June 24, 2015

Last December, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the summary, findings and conclusions of its four-year investigation into the Detention and Interrogation Program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Since then, the international human rights community has reiterated the call for full transparency about and accountability for this unlawful program, in which systematic human rights violations, including the crimes under international law of torture and enforced disappearance were committed. Last March, more than 20 human rights groups called on the Council to take action and demand that the United States fulfill its international human rights obligations on truth, accountability and remedy, including by appointing a special prosecutor to conduct a comprehensive and credible criminal investigation of alleged serious crimes described in the report and to establish a special fund to compensate victims.

Last month, during the United States’ UPR [Universal Periodic Review] session, a significant number of Member-States joined civil society’s call and raised the issue of accountability and reparations for the use of torture and other human rights violations in the context of U.S. counter-terrorism policies and practices.

They also emphasized the need to end indefinite detention and close the Guantánamo detention facility, one of the remaining examples of the unlawful actions taken in the name of national security since the attacks of 11 September 2001. Delivering justice for the victims and ending indefinite detention in Guantánamo are both issues that still require more decisive and urgent action from the Obama administration.

On 26 June, the world will mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The U.S. government was a strong supporter of the adoption of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), which is commemorated every year on this day. The United States is also a generous contributor to the U.N. Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. But the U.S.’s failure to hold accountable those responsible for the CIA program of torture and enforced disappearance, to ensure the victims’ rights to truth and reparations, and to take other actions to ensure non-repetition of these heinous crimes leaves the U.S. in violation of its own obligations under UNCAT and other international instruments and is a serious blow to the international human rights system, in general, and to the global effort to eradicate torture and enforced disappearance, in particular.

During its next session, the Council will adopt the Working Group report on the U.S. UPR. We call on the Council to send a strong message against impunity for torture and enforced disappearances and demand that the United States take measures to meet the full spectrum of its obligations under international law to ensure accountability, transparency, reparations and non-repetition, including declassification of the full Senate report on the CIA detention program, independent comprehensive criminal investigation, and the issuing of apologies and compensation to victims of enforced disappearance, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Continued impunity is a dark chapter in the history of the United States that threatens to undermine the universally-recognized prohibition against torture and other abusive treatment, and sends the dangerous message to U.S. and foreign officials that there will be no consequences for future abuses. Other governments implicated in the CIA torture program must also be held accountable and are obligated to conduct independent investigations, hold perpetrators accountable, and provide effective remedies to victims of torture, enforced disappearance and other human rights violations.

We know from the experiences of civil society groups and survivors of torture around the world that the struggle for accountability for human rights violations and the search for truth can be a long and difficult journey. Yet the United States has much to gain from rejecting impunity, returning to the rule of law, and providing adequate redress to the dozens and dozens of people it so brutally abused.

We hope the United States will follow that path.

Submitted by:

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
Conectas Direitos Humanos
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

Endorsed by

Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos, A. C
Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo
Acción Solidaria en VIH/Sida
Advocates for U.S. Torture Prosecutions
African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies
Ágora Espacio Civil Paraguay
Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School
Amnesty International
Appeal for Justice
Asociación de Familiares de Presos y Desaparecidos Saharauis
Asociación MINGA
Asociación para la Prevención de la Tortura
Asociación Pro derechos Humanos
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Justice and Accountability
Center for Victims of Torture
Centre for Human Rights
Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres, A. C.
Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.”
Centro de Políticas Públicas y Derechos Humanos
Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional
Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Género – Corporación Humanas
Civilis Derechos Humanos
Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo”
Coletivo PESO/Periferia Soberana
Comisión de Justicia y Paz
Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento
Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Corporación Sisma Mujer
Defensa de Niñas y Niños- Internacional
Diyarbakir Bar Association
Due Process of Law Foundation
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
Four Freedoms Forum & Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights
Fundación Myrna Mack
Fundar. Centro de Análisis e Investigación A.C
Gillis Long Poverty Law Center – Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law
Grupo de Mujeres de San Cristóbal de las Casas
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales
Human Rights Institute of Columbia Law School
Human Rights Law Network
Human Rights Watch
Instituto Braços – Centro de Defesa de Direitos Humanos de Sergipe
Instituto Brasileiro de Ciências Criminais
Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala
Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay
Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Sociedad
Instituto Migrações e Direitos Humanos
Instituto Pro Bono
International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination
International Commission of Jurists
International Federation for Human Rights
International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School
International Human Rights Program, Boston University School of Law
International Justice Network
International-Lawyers
Justice Studies Department -Northeastern Illinois University
Kenya Human Rights Commission
KontraS (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence) in Indonesia
Laboratório de Análise Política Mundial
Legal Resources Centre
Madres Linea Fundadora
Meiklejohn Civil Liberities Institute
Minority Rights Group International
Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres
National Lawyers Guild
North Carolina Stop Torture Now
Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones
Oficina Jurídica Para la Mujer
Partnership For Justice
Paz y Esperanza
PEN American Center
Physicians for Human Rights
Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo
Programa de Pós Graduação em Segurança Pública e Direitos Humanos da Universidade Federal de Rondônia
Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos
Psychologists for Social Responsibility
Quaker House
Reprieve
Santa Clara University School of Law, International Human Rights Clinic
Seguridad en Democracia
Sociedade Maranhense de Direitos Humanos
The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International
Unidad de Protección a Defensores y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala
Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
US Human Rights Network
Women’s Link Worldwide
World Organization Against Torture

Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses
New York Times editorial, December 21, 2014

Since the day President Obama took office, he has failed to bring to justice anyone responsible for the torture of terrorism suspects — an official government program conceived and carried out in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He did allow his Justice Department to investigate the C.I.A.’s destruction of videotapes of torture sessions and those who may have gone beyond the torture techniques authorized by President George W. Bush. But the investigation did not lead to any charges being filed, or even any accounting of why they were not filed.

Mr. Obama has said multiple times that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” as though the two were incompatible. They are not. The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down.

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.

In July 2002, C.I.A. lawyers told the Justice Department that the agency needed to use “more aggressive methods” of interrogation that would “otherwise be prohibited by the torture statute.” They asked the department to promise not to prosecute those who used these methods. When the department refused, they shopped around for the answer they wanted. They got it from the ideologically driven lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel, who wrote memos fabricating a legal foundation for the methods. Government officials now rely on the memos as proof that they sought and received legal clearance for their actions. But the report changes the game: We now know that this reliance was not made in good faith.

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 question everyone will want answered, of course, is: Who should be held accountable? That will depend on what an investigation finds, and as hard as it is to imagine Mr. Obama having the political courage to order a new investigation, it is harder to imagine a criminal probe of the actions of a former president.

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.”

Starting a criminal investigation is not about payback; it is about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments. Because of the Senate’s report, we now know the distance officials in the executive branch went to rationalize, and conceal, the crimes they wanted to commit. The question is whether the nation will stand by and allow the perpetrators of torture to have perpetual immunity for their actions.

Note: See this page on Sen. Feinstein’s website for the executive summary of the torture report and other documents relating to it. Another version of the executive summary, on Document Cloud, is here.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers). He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, the co-director of “We Stand With Shaker,” calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

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17 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks to everyone liking and sharing this. If you’re in the US, there are events planned for tomorrow – and other actions you can undertake. There’s a great Amnesty International action page here: http://www.amnestyusa.org/pdfs/AmericanTortureStory_Toolkit.pdf

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    And in London there’s a vigil at 5.30 in Trafalgar Square organised by the London London Guantánamo Campaign: https://www.facebook.com/events/1622457504632908/

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    My latest article… What will it take to hold CIA to account. American Bar Association calls for prosecution…
    https://activist1.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/what-will-it-take-to-hold-cia-torturers-to-account-american-bar-association-calls-for-prosecution/

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for that, Carol. I had missed both of the letters you mentioned, and have now added links to my article. That’s quite an impressive number of people and organizations pushing for accountability.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    John Shaw wrote:

    Wait all you want. They are above accountability. You want that? You gotta do it yourself, but your ingrained habits of civil obedience to authority, selfishness and indifference will hold you back.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Well, I have no ingrained habits of civil obedience to authority, John, which may explain why I’ve spent over nine years researching and writing about Guantanamo, and campaigning to get the prison shut down! No one should think it’s easy to deal with huge historic injustices, like Guantanamo and the torture program. It may take decades, or it may never happen, but unless some people are prepared to make the effort to call for accountability for torture and the closure of Guantanamo, the assault on fundamental notions of decency, morality, ethics and justice will only get worse.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Lindis Percy wrote:

    SHOCKING they are still held. Release the unlawfully held detainees NOW Obama.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Lindis. Good to hear from you. I hope your July 4 protest at Menwith Hill goes well: https://www.facebook.com/groups/121142151239668/permalink/953352734685268/

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Sajida Habib wrote, in response to 6, above:

    Well said, Andy Worthington

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Sajida. I think history teaches us that, far too often, the bigger the injustice, the longer it takes to address. It has taken over 30 years for some of the victims of Argentina’s “Dirty War” to get justice, and of course after the Japanese American internment in WWII it took until 1988, under Ronald Reagan, for the Civil Liberties Act to be passed, which provided $20,000 compensation for each surviving detainee, totaling $1.2 billion. With Guantanamo, as we see, there are dark and powerful forces in the US who are working hard to keep it open, even though there is no objectively sound argument whatsoever for doing so. These are people who relish injustice, who like the power to hold people forever without charge or trial, just like the tyrants of old, and the people who, nowadays, we call dictators – unless they’re the US government, apparently.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    I just found this powerful op-ed on Politico by Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/06/cia-torturers-should-be-held-accountable-119345.html

    I Was Tortured. I Know How Important It Is to Hold the CIA Accountable
    By Juan E. Méndez, Politico, June 23, 2015

    More than once, I begged my torturers to kill me. Years later, I think about it and wonder if I really meant it. I think I did, at the time.

    I was tied up, nude and blindfolded, and electrically prodded all over my body. Twice they pretended they were executing me by placing a gun to my head or in my mouth and clicking the trigger.

    To my abusers, who interrupted this torture with question after question, this was merely “enhanced interrogation.”

    That was decades ago, in Argentina. But today, U.S. political figures — including presidential candidate Rick Perry — are using this same euphemism to describe the CIA’s torture and ill treatment during its secret detention operations from 2002 to 2008. And earlier this month, John Oliver’s HBO show “Last Week Tonight” reported that of 14 declared U.S. presidential candidates, only four said they would keep an executive order put in place by President Barack Obama in his first days in office that seeks to ensure the U.S. does not commit torture.

    When U.S. media and political figures repeat the euphemism enhanced interrogation, they reframe the debate in a way that implicitly downplays the pain and inhumanity of torture. Instead, torture becomes a matter of rational decision making and calibrated legality.

    Unfortunately, this linguistic ploy is working. Torture is a crime under U.S. and international law, but enhanced interrogation hasn’t been prosecuted in the U.S. Thus, while Obama abandoned the flawed legal reasoning the Bush administration used to justify torture, not one person has been charged for authorizing or committing torture in the CIA’s secret detention program.

    The U.S. government has effectively handed “get out of jail free” cards to those who authorized torture, with significant consequences. Many of those same individuals have written memoirs and gone on talk shows, particularly since the Senate’s landmark report on torture was released six months ago, to explicitly disavow any regret or compunction for what they still call enhanced interrogation.

    “I’d do it again in a minute,” Dick Cheney said in December. Impunity for torture has left these individuals free to campaign for its return.

    It has also emboldened torturers worldwide. The United States is obligated under the Convention Against Torture and other treaties to investigate and prosecute those against whom evidence can be found. U.S. failure on these obligations is inviting other nations to follow the U.S. example of impunity. It is providing abusive regimes a ready-made excuse for rejecting international community concerns about their own records of torture.

    The euphemism of enhanced interrogation has also redirected the U.S. from pursuing accountability and a process of lessons learned. Instead, the focus is on whether torture was “effective” at providing intelligence or preventing an imminent attack. Even the Senate torture report, which torture defenders malign as partisan, journeys down this rabbit hole.

    This diversion is all too common in the recent history of torture. The idea of a ticking time bomb justifying torture was also used in Argentina by proponents of the “dirty war” waged by the military against its proponents.

    In this scenario — especially as it frequently plays out on American television shows over the past decade — torture is ugly but someone has to do it. Or: Torture is inevitable and produces results whether we like it or not. These arguments characterize torture as exceptional.

    The reality is that torture is never confined to just a few carefully calibrated “techniques.” The Senate torture report graphically demonstrates this. It reportedly involved sexual abuse including genital touching and forced rectal feeding without documented medical necessity — conduct not even contemplated by the now infamously flawed Justice Department memos justifying torture after 9/11.

    Nor is torture ever really limited to a few individuals. The Senate report found that of 119 known detainees in CIA custody, at least 26 did not even meet the CIA’s standard for detention, including an “intellectually challenged” man whose detention was used solely as leverage to get a family member to provide information. And the Senate report’s “conservative estimate” is that the CIA applied enhanced interrogation to at least 17 individuals without authorization from CIA headquarters.

    Soon after I was tortured, in the late 1970s, I joined a worldwide Amnesty International campaign against torture premised on the notion that, with a consistent, determined effort by democratic governments and international organizations supported by common men and women across borders, torture could be abolished in our time just as the African slave trade had been abolished a century earlier.

    We have come far. Today, laws against torture are in place almost everywhere. The Senate last week passed an amendment to its defense authorization bill with the express purpose of strengthening the U.S. ban on torture.

    But plainly, laws against torture are not sufficient to eradicate it. As long as those responsible for torture evade accountability, would-be torturers will believe that they can, too. As long as torture goes unpunished, it will continue to be known merely — and shamefully — as enhanced interrogation.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Sajida Habib wrote:

    Who needs to see horror movies when this sort of thing is going on in the world. Whatever the cause, there is never any justification for the kind of abuse being carried out. I so admire people who have nothing personal to gain but continue to expose the horrors being carried out in our names and under our noses. You have to hope. …

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again, Sajida. I think it’s because it took such a long time to enshrine the concept of human rights – rights for all – and those who genuinely believe in the concept can’t let it go, because letting it go takes us back to barbarism, where no one is safe.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Sajida Habib wrote:

    ….which is where the Tory party wants to take us by abolishing the Human Rights Act.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, exactly, Sajida – a good reminder of where we are now in the UK and the threats we all face. I try to see the funny side – what does it says about a political leader when he openly states that he wants to get rid of human rights? But this bunch of butchers don’t get irony, obviously.

  16. arcticredriver says...

    Thanks Andy!

    Did you see Carol Rosenberg’s coverage of the surprise appointment of a replacement commandant for JTF-GTMO? Admiral Cozad’s replacement was to be another Admiral, named Ponds. There had been various official announcements about his appointment. However, then, at the last moment, he declined to take the appointment, for “personal reasons”.

    While “personal reasons” could mean he suddenly learned his wife or child had a terminal disease, I am inclined to assume it was his conscience. If that is the case good for him!

    The new guy is a USAF pilot and nuclear engineer — the first non-Admiral to be appointed in years. He was a reservist, and a commercial pilot for American Airlines on 9-11.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, arcticredriver. Yes, it’s interesting that Adm. Ponds didn’t take the job – and interesting too that a former pilot is now taking over. It looks to me like the authorities are running out of options, which isn;t really all that surprising. I can’t imagine that the job is at all rewarding for anyone able to see beyond the stale propaganda of the “war on terror.”

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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