International Red Cross Defines Bush Interrogations As Torture

torture -abu ghraib220px-barack_obamaThe 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.

For the full story, click here.

32 thoughts on “International Red Cross Defines Bush Interrogations As Torture

  1. I do believe that Bush and company will be investigated, but Obama will try to make sure that he is not the one directing or ordering the investigation. I think he is waiting for Congress to do something in that direction in order to give himself some political cover. I read the article that discussed the Red Cross report and it is additional documentation of the torture tactics used by the Bush Administration. These guys need to be in jail in leg irons and that includes Bush and Cheney and Rumsfield and others for authorizing the torture. The only way to stop this kind of action is to show the country and the world that we really do believe in the rule of law by investigating and prosecuting these war criminals.

  2. What does Obama need cover from? Most of our population and most of the world’s population would like to see cheneybushco investigated/charged. He should appoint an independent prosecutor, about 4 weeks ago. The only way he will follow the law is with enough pressure by our people to make him do it. At this point, as JT has pointed out, he himself has violated our law. We (collectively) did not do enough as citizens to protest when bush spent 8 years violating the law. We have to learn from that experience. We now have another president who is willing to put himself above our law and the Constitution he took an oath to protect. If we keep on making excuse after excuse for what Obama is doing, he will keep doing it. If Obama has a “secret plan” then he will be happy for the pressure. If he does not, the pressure is important to let him know that this country will not tolerate another lawless president. We must stop this and stop it now. I don’t have much faith in our Congress steping forward to do the right thing. This leaves us, the people. We’re trained to believe we are weak and can do nothing. I don’t believe that for a second. It’s time for creative, non-violent mass protest. If we don’t grab back our govt. no one will.

  3. Sy Hersh has amazing inside contacts and has long track record of accurate reporting.

    This information is to much if true. “head on a pike in front of the W H” is about right. Nice catch and slip BIL.

    If we don’t have investigations, we aren’t wearing any cloths. I’m unsure if we are a nation of laws anymore. I adore the principles this country is founded on but we have lost our way.

  4. Here’s some possible ideas.

    1. Hold a people’s hearing even if it’s in the basement of Congress or outside of Congress all together and assemble all the information that is publically available. Publish said information through buying space in the NYT and/or Washington Post.

    2. Mother Jones magazine did an excellent timeline of events leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Perhaps they or some other magazine could assemble and print the information on war crimes, again, that is publically available. We would have to set up a fund for contributions to either/both endeavors.

    3. Students at law schools could take information and prepare charges. Said charges should then be made public in the newspapers or magazines.

    Other actions would consist of peaceful protest of every kind in order to convince obama that neither he, nor his predecessors is above the law.

    Pakistan got their chief justice returned to the bench because the elite lawyers of their society marched. They did this even while the economic situation of their nation is in shambles. It is time for our elite lawyers to gather and march.

    Just brainstorming but something must be done before it is too late.

    Buddha,

    Appalling and good for Kucinich.

  5. Here’s some possible ideas.

    1. Hold a people’s hearing even if it’s in the basement of Congress or outside of Congress all together and assemble all the information that is publically available. Publish said information through buying space in the NYT and/or Washington Post.

    2. Mother Jones magazine did an excellent timeline of events leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Perhaps they or some other magazine could assemble and print the information on war crimes, again, that is publically available. We would have to set up a fund for contributions to either/both endeavors.

    3. Students at law schools could take information and prepare charges. Said charges should then be made public in the newspapers or magazines.

    Other actions would consist of peaceful protest of every kind in order to convince obama that neither he, nor his predecessors is above the law.

    Pakistan got their chief justice returned to the bench because the elite lawyers of their society marched. They did this even while the economic situation of their nation is in shambles. It is time for our elite lawyers to gather and march.

    Just brainstorming but something must be done before it is too late.

    Buddha,

    Appalling and good for Kucinich.

  6. Bob,

    RE: Tony B.

    Yep. He’s got it coming too. Maybe not head on stick coming, but a nice dark oubliette would be nice.

  7. Jill,

    The only thing I can think of Obama needs cover from is the appearance of vendetta. Ask McCarthy how well that worked out for his political career after Murrow got done with him. As a Machiavellian practicality for a prolonged political career, that makes sense. But it’s time to do something, regardless of appearances, lest the rule of law goes right out the window.

  8. CCD,

    I read that info from Bob. I’m glad he posted it. I am speaking about compiling a list of publically available information on what clearly fits the category of war crimes. There is some of that in Bob’s information, but in this case, I’m hoping for a summary that sticks only with the war crimes. (This being for the sake of clarity.)

    Buddha,

    It is strange how “law and order” Republicans and some Democrats suddenly think the criminal justice system is all about vengence. Certainly much of our press thinks this. Of course that only applies to the people with power, everyone else, it’s about justice. ARRGGG!

  9. Jill,

    Other than Vince Bugliosi: http://www.prosecutegeorgebush.com/

    are there any efforts under way to investigate other than congress? John Conyers and Patrick Leahy?

    I’ve emailed the deans and one or more faculty at John Marshall, University of Chicago, Northwestern, Loyola, and DePaul law schools to stir the pot.

    Thank you for the ideas.

  10. Obama’s fumbling around with War Crimes and the Economic Bailout may cause the people who voted for him to *make* the President and Congress get off their dumb asses and do their job. Maybe that is Obama’s intention: to spur the People into more active participation in Government.

    Just as likely he is somewhat overwhelmed by the magnitude of monstrous evil brought about by the Cheney-Bush Administration, and their owners.

    The people who controlled Cheney-Bush are still out there pulling strings and slaughtering innocents for power and profit.

  11. CCD,

    Thanks for making the contacts! There is something else which I’m trying to find the link to. It is a place where people who participated in torture at Gitmo may go and give testimony. I very much respect any person who would give this testimony. Also, there are inquiries in the UK which may be found by going to “The Guardian” and searching under torture inquiry. They are further along in the process–there’s a real fight to get this refered as a criminal matter to the police.

  12. Buddha,

    I wonder if yo’d have to file any special environmental permits to place Blair’s head atop London Tower.

  13. We need a special prosecutor.

    It would be nice, however, if when s/he gets to the end of it all, our efforts be not ‘all for naught’. The whole doughnut-not the hole, as it were.

    I’d like to think the potential solution is actually less daunting and has become distorted around anxiety about the final grade, thereby inventing the pre-Pro-Yoo ‘policy-shaping-position vs. position-shaping-policy’ conundrum when the very action of the jigsaw itself will solve the puzzle. You really only need the exact outline.

    Still, I have to agree, some of those emails would taste pretty sweet, too!

    What’s so is so-everything else is just ‘the story’ about it.

    This is still ‘war’, although not declared. The detainees are still human beings, although not POW’s. Those are tests – not whether you choose to declare them enemy combatants or DAAs
    or our role as armed conflict or military force or vice versa.

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101040621-650689,00.html

    “…However, the Taliban did represent a nation state—one that was party to the conventions. Still, the Administration decided that, as John Yoo—a University of California law professor who while a Justice Department attorney wrote one of the primary memos—explained last week in a Los Angeles Times editorial, “the Taliban militia lost its right to prisoner-of-war status because it did not wear uniforms, did not operate under responsible commanders and systematically violated the laws of war…”

    …”That month President Bush declared that U.S. soldiers would abide by the spirit of the Geneva Conventions but that neither Taliban nor al-Qaeda captives held in Guantanamo Bay would actually qualify as prisoners of war. The conclusion that al-Qaeda members were not subject to the treaty made sense to many international lawyers…”

    Again, a couple of other sources:

    George W. Bush, War Criminal? The Bush Administration’s Liability for 269 War Crimes
    Michael Haas
    Foreword by Benjamin B. Ferencz, Former Chief Prosecutor, Nuremberg Military Tribunals

    Haas divides the 269 war crimes of the Bush administration into four classes: 6 war crimes committed in launching a war of aggression; 36 war crimes committed in the conduct of war; 175 war crimes committed in the treatment of prisoners; and 52 war crimes committed in postwar occupations.
    For each of the 269 war crimes of the Bush administration, Professor Haas gives chapter and verse in precise but non-technical language, including the specific acts deemed to be war crimes, the names of the officials deemed to be war criminals, and the exact language of the international or domestic laws violated by those officials.

    ————–

    ‘A Thousand Lawyers’ Project begun December 2007… a/k/a

    The American Lawyers Defending the Constitution statement, along with the list of 80 original signers, is available at
    http://www.americanfreedomcampaign.org/lawyers. The statement is also pasted at the bottom of this release.

    1,000+ Lawyers Launch Campaign Urging Conyers and Leahy to Vigorously Investigate Bush Administration Criminality

    Contact: Steve Fox, American Freedom Campaign —
    202-822-5200, x234

  14. This is mostly about domestic surveillance but possibly one may find documents on the above issue. At any rate it’s a very important and powerful tool which may show the way on collecting and disseminating knowledge gathered on torture. You just have to love some of the geeks!

    “San Francisco – In celebration of Sunshine Week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched a sophisticated search tool that allows the public to closely examine thousands of pages of documents the organization has pried loose from secretive government agencies. The documents relate to a wide range of cutting-edge technology issues and government policies that affect civil liberties and personal privacy.

    EFF’s document collection — obtained through requests and litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) — casts light on several controversial government initiatives, including the FBI’s Investigative Data Warehouse and DCS 3000 surveillance program, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Automated Targeting System and ADVISE data-mining project. The documents also provide details on Justice Department collection of communications routing data, Pentagon monitoring of soldiers’ blogs, mismatches in the Terrorist Screening Center’s watchlist, and FBI misuse of its national security letter subpoena authority.

    The new search capability enables visitors to EFF’s website to conduct keyword searches across the universe of government documents obtained by EFF, maximizing the value of the material.

    “Until recently, documents obtained under FOIA often gathered dust in filing cabinets,” said David Sobel, EFF Senior Counsel and director of the organization’s FOIA Litigation for Accountable Government (FLAG) Project. “We believe that government information should be widely available and easy to research, and our new search engine makes that a reality.”

    http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2009/03/16

  15. Jill and Buddha,
    The political cover that I was referring to earlier today was the vendetta issue that Buddha mentioned. From a political perspective, he thinks he)Obama) needs to have the Congress initiate the investigation and also take some of the “heat” that the right will be spweing when and if the Bush crowd is investigated and prosecuted. I agree with most of you here that time is of the essence when it comes to investigating the Bush regime for torture crimes and FISA crimes. And when you throw in Cheney’s “dark side” team of assassins, there is no doubt that these Bushites are dirty and need to spend some quality time dealing with enhanced interrogation techniques.

  16. Thanks rafflaw!

    I still think the president should be unafraid of any vendetta. He should not worry about whether he or any other Democrats will be elected again (which I’m certain they will, the American people are for these investigations). This is much too important for him to be unwilling to take the heat. In fact, it is important enough to risk never being elected president again. Truly renouncing the policies of cheneybush and ordering war crimes investigations will help make this the nation we should be. No one’s political career matters in the face of that.

  17. Jill,
    I would agree with you that no politician should consider their elective future, but all of them will. I would be satisfied if we get an investigattion into the scum that inhabited the White House these past 8 years, no matter who initiates it.

  18. In my opinion there is no chance that Obama will allow prosecutions of Bush/Cheney due to the misperceived political cost to Obama’s re-election chances. Although protracted and severe economic problems will make a second term very difficult either way, I suspect that even beyond 2012 Obama would have little appetite for prosecutions. I would no longer be surprised by an outright pardon from Obama if something looks imminent based on his track record of the last few months.

    Cheney (and perhaps Bush) will be tried in absentia for these crimes elsewhere in the world, and convicted. The US press will generally portray the proceedings as a show trial, although they will be credible to the rest of the world.

    To the Hirsh allegations, I’m inclined to believe him. Some have asked why OBL was never pursued with such vigor. Those who continue to wonder why he is alive fail to understand the attraction our government has to the unquestioned power provided by the global war on terror.

  19. Jill,

    I agree he shouldn’t be afraid of the appearance of vendetta. That’s why my guy ideally was Kucinich, a man I feel may be one of the sanest and most honest of men in politics anywhere. He was on to Cheney’s games from the onset. He wouldn’t have given a second thought to appearances. He actually seems to believe no one is above the law. Obama is in many respects still just the garden variety politician despite his positive traits. If it is indeed the appearance of vendetta he is avoiding, it is only his nature. He needs to get over it though for a fact.

  20. rafflaw,

    I have a real problem with politicians whose only goal is advancing their own career. To get re-elected they do the bidding of their base–the wealthy and connected. There has to be some reason besides unbridled power, that one wishes to be a politican. Obama presented himself as a person who wanted to be more than an average politician. Our nation, our Constitution, our people, have to mean more to him than getting re-elected. That is what a real leader looks like. I heard a young platoon leader speak about his job in Iraq. He didn’t go in there for himself, he went in there to keep as many of his people alive as possible. He went in there to make his section of Iraq safe for the Iraqi people. He risked his life to accomplish this goal. He said the American people don’t see very much of what he called, “service leadership”. He’s right. It’s time for our leaders to show “service leadership”. This young man risked his life to do the right thing. May we not expect our political class to risk not getting reelected in favor of service to our nation? Obama took an oath of office, to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. That oath has to mean something to him. If it does not, we the people, must demand that it does.

  21. Here’s something interesting:

    “Preventive Detention and Prosecution in the Post-Guantanamo Era
    Experts to Explore Remaining Questions about Detention and Trials after Obama’s Executive Orders at Forum at Georgetown University Law Center on March 20

    WASHINGTON – March 17 – WHAT: The Constitution Project will co-host a panel of experts with a broad spectrum of views who will discuss the legal and constitutional issues raised by President Obama’s executive orders on detention and terrorism prosecutions, including potential proposals for establishing a national security court and a preventive detention regime. Human Rights First and the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law will also co-host the discussion, entitled “Bringing Detainees to Justice and Justice to Detainees: Remaining Questions about Detention and Trials after Obama’s Executive Orders.” Policy-makers from the Congress, the executive branch, and the intelligence community will be in attendance.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/03/17-7

  22. This is encouraging. Also, if you have time to read the entire letter it lays out many of the allegations of torture, to include, homicide.

    “WASHINGTON – March 18 – The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder reiterating its call for the Department of Justice to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the authorization to use torture at CIA secret prisons. This follows recent revelations that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) concluded in 2007 that the treatment of detainees being held by American personnel constituted torture, as well as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The ICRC report is based on harrowing accounts from detainees about the treatment to which they were subjected.

    The ACLU’s letter, signed by Executive Director Anthony D. Romero, states in part:

    “The fact that such crimes have been committed can no longer be doubted or debated, nor can the need for an independent prosecutor be ignored by a new Justice Department committed to restoring the rule of law … Given the increasing evidence of deliberate and widespread use of torture and abuse, and that such conduct was the predictable result of policy changes made at the highest levels of government, an independent prosecutor is clearly in the public interest. The country deserves to have these outstanding matters addressed, and have the assurance that torture will stop and never happen again. An independent prosecutor is the only sure way to achieve these goals.”

    A full copy of the letter can be found below and online at: http://www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/39054res20090317

    http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/03/18-1

  23. Ok I didn’t read through all of the great comments. I have no doubt they are great and on target. I just saw Jonathan Turley on the Rachel Maddow Show. I’ve seen him numerous times since President Obama has taken office and each time he just seems perturbed that the president HASN’T brought charges on the Bush administration yet. This is Mr Turley’s life blood–the LAW. But here’s my analysis of just what President Obama is doing in my estimation. As I review just how the president works in his decisions I think he is as he is known to do,”take his case to the public in a very patient way”. He did it with the Reverend Wright issue. He’s doing it with the economy. He gets the American people to listen over time. His time. He is the most patient “politician” I have seen in my 53 years. Sorta the Joe Louis way of fighting,”You can run but you can’t hid”. He WILL bring them to justice, but in due time. So Mr. Turley just give him time. He’s been there what, 60+ days? We must stop the fast food mentality and have patience.

    Plus, I think he’s letting old Looselips Chaney hang himself and his vice president. Want it be great like in Outlaw Josey Wales when out of no where they get fitted for nice new “jewelry” on our local news!!! Remember President Obama’s favorite movie is The Godfather. It’s like Michael Corleone said to his father in the garden when Vito said he wanted him to be Senator Corleone or Governor Corleone. Michael said,”Don’t worry Pop, we’ll get there, we’ll get there”.

    We’ll get there.

  24. Mr. BEE,

    It is a myth that the public does not want war crime prosecutions. It is the president who is behind the people and refusing to follow the law on this issue. If he were waiting to convince the public a special prosecutor would have been on the job since early Feb.

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