U.N. special rapporteur Manfred Nowak has gone public with a stinging indictment of President Barack Obama’s failure to investigate and prosecute officials for the American torture program, a clear war crime under existing treaties. Obama is in open violation of international law due to his failure to uphold the clear legal and moral obligations of this country.
For many months, I have been received a great deal of flak over this very same point (here and here: that Obama is in clear violation of international law. Nowak has now added a much more significant voice to the call for investigation and prosecution: “The United States, like all other states that are part of the U.N. convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court.”
Former Bush officials, the Red Cross, the vast majority of legal experts, and numerous NGOs have confirmed these interrogations as premeditated torture. Obama and Holder have both declared waterboarding to be torture. The failure to simply appoint an independent investigator and allow the law to be enforced without concern for politics or passions. It is obvious that Obama does not want to allow an investigation that would likely lead to an indictment of Bush officials and probably Bush himself. If Obama wants to excuse war crimes, he can take the personal responsibility and pardon Bush and these officials — tying his own legacy to the commission of torture. However, his blocking of an investigation is an international outrage and puts us into the same category as countries like Serbia. Obama has the authority to pardon crimes, not obstruct efforts to investigate crimes for political purposes. This may not be politically advantageous for Obama, but these treaties do not exist for his comfort or advantage. We made a pledge to the world that we would aggressively pursue any war criminals — even if they happened to be made in the America.
The refusal to allow an investigation by a special prosecutor obstructs the enforcement of these laws, including our commitment under these treaties. Obviously, Obama and Holder cannot be charged with obstruction of justice for refusing to prosecute but they are obstructing the enforcement of these laws in violation of these international agreements. We have criticized other nations for such efforts to bar investigations or protect individuals accused of war crimes. Our obvious reluctance to allow a special prosecutor to pursue these allegations is whittling away the little credibility that we had after the Bush years on human rights.
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