For those of us who have been arguing for years that senior officials and lawyers in the Bush administration must be held accountable for the torture program they introduced and used in their “war on terror,” last week was a very interesting week indeed, as developments took place in Strasbourg, in London and in Washington D.C., which all pointed towards the impossibility that the torturers can escape accountability forever.
That may be wishful thinking, given the concerted efforts by officials in the US and elsewhere to avoid having to answer for their crimes, and the ways in which, through legal arguments and backroom deals, they have suppressed all attempts to hold them accountable. However, despite this, it seems that maintaining absolute silence is impossible, and last week one breakthrough took place when, unanimously, a 17-judge panel of the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Khaled El-Masri, a German used car salesman of Lebanese origin, who is one of the most notorious cases of mistaken identity in the whole of the “war on terror.” See the summary here.
Describing the ruling, the Guardian described how the court stated that “CIA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on,” and “also found Macedonia guilty of torturing, abusing, and secretly imprisoning [him],” also noting, “It is the first time the court has described CIA treatment meted out to terror suspects as torture.” Read the rest of this entry »
In the US media, there’s a little bit of a buzz right now about the use of torture by the Bush administration, and much of it is the right sort of buzz — openly involving reminders that torture is a crime, and that, in addition, using torture is worthless if the aim is to produce reliable information. Also mentioned, though not, in general, with the prominence it truly deserves, is the fact that those who authorized the use of torture still walk free, and are allowed to publish books and appear on chat shows, even if their opportunities for foreign travel are severely curtailed, as with George W. Bush, because the world is full of countries in which the appropriate respect is given to the UN Convention Against Torture — to which, of course, the US, under Ronald Reagan, became a signatory.
The buzz about torture has been created because of the publication of a book entitled, The Interrogator: An Education by Glenn L. Carle, a former CIA operative and Arabic speaker who was sent to an undisclosed country, to a “black site” known as Hotel California, to interrogate a suspected senior al-Qaeda operative.
Carle’s book s important for two reasons: firstly, because it is the first example of a US interrogator’s first-hand account of a “black site,” and secondly, and crucially, because Carle refused to engage in the torture techniques that the Bush administration arranged for lawyers in the Justice Department to authorize, preferring instead to interrogate the prisoner using rapport-buiiding methods and psychological insight, and also because he is openly critical of those methods. Read the rest of this entry »
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