The International Committee of the Red Cross added its considerable authority and voice to those who have called the Bush interrogation policies torture under international law. Now, Bush officials, bar groups, countless experts, and leading international organizations have all agreed that Bush ran a torture program prohibited under a variety of treaties. Those treaties require the United States to investigate and prosecute such acts as war crimes. Yet, President Barack Obama continues to block any such investigation in flagrant violation of international law.
The International Red Cross is viewed as a definitive voice on such matters and issued a secret report that informed the Bush Administration that what it was doing was torture under international law.
The IRC was given access to 14 of the CIA’s “high-value” detainees after they were transferred in 2006 to Guantanamo Bay. One such detainee was Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian man who ran Al Qaeda recruitment. Zubaydah said in the weeks after he was captured, he was shackled naked while listening to consistent music or static. He also says he had limited nourishment and was not allowed to sleep.
President Obama has insisted that “no one is above the law” but has refused to allow an investigation into a clear and knowing war crime by his predecessor. Under international law, such obstruction is itself a serious violation. Various senators and Bush officials have stated that, while Obama was pledging to guarantee that no one is above the law in such matters, he and Holder were assuring people privately that there would be no investigations into war crimes, here and here.
There is an obvious belief in the Administration that an investigation of President Bush and his aides would endanger the Democratic hold in Congress and the president reelection. The problem has been the relatively passive role of the mainstream media on the story. There is a clear obligation of the Obama Administration to investigate and prosecute these crimes. Yet, the media has treated this as largely a political story and have rarely raised it with the President or pushed him on how he can say that “no one is above the law” while preventing high-ranking officials from being criminally investigated, let alone prosecuted.
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