Obama Administration Finally Investigates Torture! . . . Oh Wait, It’s In Sri Lanka

225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamatorture -abu ghraibIt appears that there is no limit to our hypocrisy on torture. While blocking any criminal investigation or prosecution of American officials for our torture program, the Obama Administration is demanding to question the Sri Lanken Army Chief Sarath Fonseka over allegations of the torture in Sri Lanka.

The State Department is demanding answers to determine culpability for the crimes. Fonseka is visiting his daughters in Oklahoma and the US State Department wants him to testify against Sri Lanka’s powerful defense secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. After all, we cannot allow torture to go unpunished — so long as it is not an American official.

For the full story, click here

43 thoughts on “Obama Administration Finally Investigates Torture! . . . Oh Wait, It’s In Sri Lanka

  1. Makes me proud to say the least. If I cannot hold myself accountable, then I certainly know that you should not be doing what I am doing, therefore I know what to look for what you are doing and then I can catch you. There, enough said….

  2. President Obama and Eric Holder said Dick Cheney and George Bush will not face questioning by the US government, over alleged war crimes committed before and during the war with Iraq and ordering torture.

    Obama has told the BBC that he objects to American plans to interview Dick and George, who ares currently at large in the US. Mr. Obama feels it is vital to look forward as looking backward and at the present would clearly show the US engages in torture and is in violation of multiple national/international laws.

    The American State Department published a recent report outlining allegations of human rights abuses during the war in Iraq and the lead up to it. These violations continue under the war on terror.

    The UN has previously said an inquiry is needed to determine culpability.

    Dick and George are visiting their daughters regularly in the US. They have been asked to present themselves for an interview with the Department of Homeland Security, Wednesday on Fox, to explain why we need to torture and had to go to war under false pretenses.

    US officials have declined to confirm reports of the putative interview.

    The US state department submitted its report to Congress in mid-October, outlining serious violations allegedly committed by our current and former leadership, asking that the report be immediately buried.

    At the time, Holder said he would appoint a hand picked, high-ranking committee to probe claims of human rights abuses during the continuing war on terror. Obama promised everyone in advance that nothing will come of the investigation.

    The US military had blamed reports of civilian deaths on the leadership of the US govt., both civilian and miliatary – with UN estimates of up to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed. Mr. Obama has himself provided an amazing level of new civilian body counts in this first months in office due to his illegal use of drones.

    Contractors hired by the US govt. are accused by many of indiscriminate bombardment, and using heavy weaponry in areas where civilians were present.

    Have a nice day.

  3. Sri Lanka’s government is despicable so I don’t mean this literally, but I’d love to offer their PR office my advice on phrasing a response to the US’s demand that they come clean about torture.

  4. Here’s the present:

    “OBAMA RESUMING G.W. BUSH’S “EXTRAORDINARY RENDITIONS”
    Submitted by davidswanson on Sun, 2009-11-01 16:13.

    By Sherwood Ross

    Even though Barack Obama, the candidate, pledged to end “the practice of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries,” his FBI has been rendering kidnap victims to the U.S. The practice is still kidnapping, however; and it’s still illegal.

    Unlucky victim No. 1 was Raymond Azar, 45, flown from Afghanistan to Alexandria, Va., not to a foreign country. The construction manager for Sima International, a Lebanese outfit that did work for the U.S. military, Azar said he was tortured by his abductors. He might just as well have been flow to Egypt under the Bushies.

    Interestingly, Azar was never charged as a dangerous terrorist, only with conspiracy to commit bribery for wiring $106,000 in kickbacks to a U.S. employee’s bank account in hopes of getting $13 million in unpaid bills okayed.”
    (from afterdowningstreet.org where there’s more)

    Here’s the past:

    “Released Government Documents Responsive to 2004 Torture FOIA (10/30/2009)

    Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel Letters and Memos to CIA Regarding Detention and Interrogation Policies:

    * 11/3/2003 Letter to Senator Leahy from FBI Director Mueller confirming that the CIA is bound by the Constitution
    * 10/18/2004 CIA Office of Medical Services (OMS) Guidelines on medical and psychological support to detainee rendition, interrogation and detention
    * CIA Office of Inspector General report excerpts
    * Interrogation Legal Authorities
    * Description of stress positions and facial slap
    * Interrogation of Detainees
    * Guidelines for Memo on Interrogation” (aclu website where there’s more)

    Indeed, Sri Lanka has much to learn from the US.

  5. But folks, the FB&I is ‘shere to hepp protect us frum them evildoin’ fuerners–maybe them next door or juss down your street…you no, them darkies at the end of the 1st Street cull-dee-sack.
    _________________________________

    Quote:

    [1,600 are suggested daily for FBI’s list

    Number of names on terrorist watch list at 400,000, agency says
    By Walter Pincus
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, November 1, 2009

    In a different vein, the FBI was asked why it is losing new recruits as special agents and support personnel at a time when terrorist investigations are increasing. The FBI responded that failed polygraph tests rather than other factors, such as the length of time for getting security clearances, are the main reason recruits are ending their efforts to join the bureau. In the past year, polygraphs were the cause of roughly 40 percent of special-agent applicants dropping out, the records showed.]

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/31/AR2009103102141.html

  6. Hypocrisy is the pledge one never intended to fulfill and the cost is the trust those who believed no longer hold. (paraphrasing a quote I can’t remember word for word)

    Being held to a higher standard is so difficult … many do as the President has done and excuse themselves. I wonder if he still considers himself a leader? I voted for him but I never really bought into the hype so I’m not terribly disappointed. However, I still believe that we are a nation of laws and that those laws should be enforced so I will continue to demand that it be done.

  7. I voted for him but I never really bought into the hype so I’m not terribly disappointed.

    Precisely why the two party paradigm MUST be brought down.

    We elected a man who lied with virtually every breath (but thank goodness he is black and a member of the “Opposing party”).

    We get what we deserve because of this very mindset.

  8. Blouise,

    I think you made an important point–we have to demand the rule of law in this nation. The US is running around the entire world demanding everyone but the US and Israel be held accountable for war crimes. We simply have no moral credibility in these demands. What compliance we will get will be because we threaten to use military/economic force.

    The US is the world’s bully. Bullies need to be confronted and forced to stop. As citizens, we must step up to the plate and demand this govt. become accountable to the law and to the people. This won’t be easy. I don’t even know if we can be successful, but if we don’t try, failure is assured.

  9. “Jill
    This won’t be easy. I don’t even know if we can be successful, but if we don’t try, failure is assured.”

    ===================================================================

    Exactly.

    Whatever their reasons … more important things to worry about, concern for those who “were just following orders”, afraid that if this President goes after the last administration then the next one will go after his … whatever the music this administration has been listening to for inspiration, it’s not a concert I wish to attend.

  10. This ruling (below) will ensure many more tortures, police abuse, everything we do not want, everything that is against the rule of law in this nation:

    “It’s not often that an appellate court decision reflects so vividly what a country has become, but such is the case with yesterday’s ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Arar v. Ashcroft (.pdf). Maher Arar is both a Canadian and Syrian citizen of Syrian descent. A telecommunications engineer and graduate of Montreal’s McGill University, he has lived in Canada since he’s 17 years old. In 2002, he was returning home to Canada from vacation when, on a stopover at JFK Airport, he was (a) detained by U.S. officials, (b) accused of being a Terrorist, (c) held for two weeks incommunicado and without access to counsel while he was abusively interrogated, and then (d) was “rendered” — despite his pleas that he would be tortured — to Syria, to be interrogated and tortured. He remained in Syria for the next 10 months under the most brutal and inhumane conditions imaginable, where he was repeatedly tortured. Everyone acknowledges that Arar was never involved with Terrorism and was guilty of nothing. I’ve appended to the end of this post the graphic description from a dissenting judge of what was done to Arar while in American custody and then in Syria.”

    (From Glenn Greenwald’s column of today)

  11. “Exactly.

    Whatever their reasons … more important things to worry about, concern for those who “were just following orders”, afraid that if this President goes after the last administration then the next one will go after his … whatever the music this administration has been listening to for inspiration, it’s not a concert I wish to attend.”

    I suspect the bad actors in D.C. won’t pay attention until We the People go all Hell’s Angels at Altamont on them and their K, C & J Street masters. Their narcissism and sociopathic greed won’t let them see the blows coming until they land. They simply cannot comprehend that not only could they lose and lose big but that as a matter of practical mathematics, they are GUARANTEED to lose. And once that first blood is drawn, as we all know, it’s too late. Once that switch is flipped and the populace goes after the pols, it won’t be turned off with ease or without much suffering.

    Yeah, it’s a show alright. But I have to agree, it’s not one I like watching.

  12. Get ready for all of the Obama dissenters to clog this blawg. German Chancellor Merkel is to address Congress on Global Warming today.

  13. Guess what? The US doesn’t always get to be the one who says who should be punished for war crimes. Some good news:

    ” Published on Wednesday, November 4, 2009 by Reuters
    Italy Convicts Former CIA Agents in Renditions Trial

    MILAN – An Italian judge sentenced 23 former CIA agents to up to eight years in prison on Wednesday for the abduction of a Muslim cleric in a landmark ruling against the “rendition” flights used by the former U.S. government.”

  14. Nice catch, Jill. Good news indeed.

    I guess this somewhat compensates for that silly horn dog Berlusconi.

  15. Call me crazy, but I still say the executive orders for warrantless wiretapping, effectively amending the constitution to strike the fourth amendment, is a FAR GREATER SLAP IN THE FACE TO THE CONSTITUTION than the torture issue.

  16. I think there has plenty of slapping all around. It’s time to start slapping back over all the attacks on our liberties. I for one intend to do whatever the hell I want, legal or illegal, until Cheney is in prison. It’s only fair.

  17. Bob,

    to quote a man talking about too many hops in Beer:
    “I can burn with with a torch using Hydrogen, or one using Acetylene, either way you’re going to get burned.”

  18. Bob Esq,

    I tend to agree with you. However while the IRS has the same quasi powers I am more afraid of them than the waterboarding.

  19. Italy is going to try to extradite them to the US (possibly):

    “The Americans were all tried in absentia. A Milan prosecutor said his office would seek to have them extradited from the United States, but a formal decision will be made later by the Italian Justice Ministry.

    The case is the only instance in which CIA operatives have faced a criminal trial for the controversial tactic of extraordinary rendition, under which terrorism suspects are seized in one country and forcibly transported to another without judicial oversight. ” (afterdowningstreet.org

    I don’t think we need choose between torture or surveillance. They have the same thing in common–they are completely against the law and counter to the Constitution. I don’t really know why American citizens believe we cannot be tortured, when in fact, John Walker Lindh was. Information tortured out of him was used to convict him at trial. Jose Padilla is a vegetable do to US torture. So yes, we are more likely to experience surveillance than torture as citizens, but torture isn’t ruled out. Both these actions eviscerate the rule of law. Both of them nullify the Constitution and all of them must be stopped.

  20. To my great surprise, I find myself in sympathy with the birthers… the desire to take legal action as a citizen against those who violate the Constitution is very strong (although I think we have a much better case that the Constitution was violated than the birthers do).

    Jill,

    I agree, I would choose no torture and no wiretapping – it’s truly depressing that anyone was allowed to choose otherwise.

  21. Jill: “I don’t think we need choose between torture or surveillance. They have the same thing in common–they are completely against the law and counter to the Constitution.”

    Yes Jill, you do need to prioritize and choose one thing at a time. There’s no such thing as a juristic machine gun that will tackle all problems at once. You need to pick one violation, determine the location of its vitals, and after listing the other suspects, dispose of the one in your sights with one shot; thereby illustrating the future of similar policies.

  22. Jill,

    Bob has a point. The only “one shot” solution is organized revolution. And when the feces hits the rotating oscillator, this will be more like the French Revolution than the American Revolution or even the American Civil War. It will be a free for all. But to avoid that, our choices are to eat this elephant one part at a time. I prefer the peaceful process oriented solution, but at this point I suspect Washington won’t get the message unless it’s written in their own blood.

  23. Buddha: “Bob has a point. The only “one shot” solution is organized revolution.”

    I was thinking more along the lines of a writ of mandamus.

  24. BIL: “But who on the Hill has the balls to issue one?”

    Who said it had to come from the Hill?

    Does Article VI empower the Executive to break state laws or disregard State Constitutions?

  25. Bob,

    Ok. Then let’s expand the search criteria. Who in the country has the balls to issue one? I know for a fact no one in the government of the State of Kansas does.

  26. BIL: “Ok. Then let’s expand the search criteria. Who in the country has the balls to issue one? I know for a fact no one in the government of the State of Kansas does.”

    The problem is ontological.

    If we deem a constitution as “that than which nothing greater can be conceived [sans amendment]” then the question becomes “How can the office of attorney general exercise more power than the document to which it is sworn to defend?”

    NYS Constitution:

    [Habeas corpus]

    §4. The privilege of a writ or order of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless, in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety requires it. (Amended by Constitutional Convention of 1938 and approved by vote of the people November 8, 1938.)

    [Security against unreasonable searches, seizures and interceptions]

    §12. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable interception of telephone and telegraph communications shall not be violated, and ex parte orders or warrants shall issue only upon oath or affirmation that there is reasonable ground to believe that evidence of crime may be thus obtained, and identifying the particular means of communication, and particularly describing the person or persons whose communications are to be intercepted and the purpose thereof. (New. Adopted by Constitutional Convention of 1938 and approved by vote of the people November 8, 1938.)

    Yada, yada.

  27. Bob,

    I agree that it’s an ontological issue that will come down to state’s rights, but since you mentioned NY, perhaps Cuomo? He’s surprised me with his willingness to go after BoA (and his ferocity too). But other then him? I can see maybe Brown from CA, but I don’t see him going to bat for the Constitution in that way before he is forced to take the Feds to task on legalizing marijuana in an effort to save their state budget. He’s got the cajones, but too much on his plate with the meltdown of the CA economy. That may be the same problem as Cuomo. How much can one guy have on his plate and still be an effective AG? Steve Six here in KS wouldn’t say boo to Washington nor would most other state AG’s.

  28. Buddha,

    I said writ of mandamus (Article 78 Proceeding in NY).

    Willing’s got nothin’ to do with it.

    The only way I see any prosecution of anything we’ve been discussing is to cut prosecutorial discretion at its knees with a state constitutional ontological argument.

  29. Bob,

    I do think willing has something to do with the likelihood of success. If the state AG is against your stance, that’s going to pull weight. That’s why I’d prefer a high level agent of the court initiate suit. If not state AG’s, I’d settle for large city City Attorney backed prosecutions over actions by private citizens. Those Washington types would try to paint a private citizen bringing this type of action with the Orly brush and you know it. You’re not naive about the nature of smear in the media. The composition of the State Sup. Ct. factors into this as well. I doubt you could seriously challenge the Federal government in Virginia or Maryland and hope to win. It’s the kind of challenge one must either win out of the gate (possible, I see nothing but ever increasing challenges to Fed authority over State’s Rights) or at least make such an impressive showing (which is possible here) as to not only come off as not just another version of the “bitter birther” but to actually acquire public sympathy for the action. It’s not just a legal battle you are talking about undertaking, but a media battle as well. I don’t know about you, but I like as many big sticks in my arsenal as can be carried.

  30. BIL: “I do think willing has something to do with the likelihood of success. If the state AG is against your stance, that’s going to pull weight.”

    Only if the court directly contradicts its own constitution. A successful Article 78 against the State AG would mean a court order denying prosecutorial discretion and compelling the AG to prosecute.

    “Those Washington types would try to paint a private citizen bringing this type of action with the Orly brush and you know it. You’re not naive about the nature of smear in the media.”

    The private citizen’s sole reply is point to the state constitution and say “res ipsa loquitur.”

    “The composition of the State Sup. Ct. factors into this as well.”

    Sure does; and, to paraphrase Good Will Hunting “my chief judge is wicked smart.”

    Chief Judge Kaye: “In our dual system, the Supreme Court’s growing dominance necessarily affected constitutional law as applied by state courts. While state courts have at all times been important contributors to the body of constitutional law, they too became involved in the application of federal law. So long as the federal floor, or national minimum, was satisfied, state courts could have imposed ceilings in the form of greater rights applicable within their own borders under their own constitutions, and these judgments would then have been conclusive, beyond Supreme Court review.[28] But as a practical matter, the federal guarantees as then interpreted by the Supreme Court in general not only satisfied but often exceeded their view of the requirements of comparable state provisions.[29]

    This same fundamental dualism has more recently sparked the heightened interest in state constitutional law, but now it is the state courts that are expressing dissatisfaction with the Supreme Court’s role in the enforcement of constitutional rights.[30] While state courts interpreting parallel provisions of their charters may have been satisfied in particular cases that the federal floor also established their own ceiling, reformulation of the floor cannot help but bring the rest of the structure into question. The point to be drawn from history, however, is that in a system of government that is founded upon dual sovereignties, independent state court adjudications based on state constitutions-two layers of constitutional protection-are hardly revolutionary or illegitimate.”

    http://www.nycourts.gov/history/elecbook/kaye_cardozo/pg3.htm

    BIL: “I doubt you could seriously challenge the Federal government in Virginia or Maryland and hope to win.”

    Especially when I’m not admitted in those states.

    BIL: “It’s the kind of challenge one must either win out of the gate (possible, I see nothing but ever increasing challenges to Fed authority over State’s Rights) or at least make such an impressive showing (which is possible here) as to not only come off as not just another version of the “bitter birther” but to actually acquire public sympathy for the action.”

    Do you mean, like, when addressing the media, you should come off as Columbo? “Uh, just one more thing…and pardon me for asking, but exactly when did the states specifically empower the chief executive to amend the constitution by executive order? What’s that article? Article IV? No, that’s the guarantee of a republican form of government… Article V, isn’t it?” Etc., etc.

    “It’s not just a legal battle you are talking about undertaking, but a media battle as well. I don’t know about you, but I like as many big sticks in my arsenal as can be carried.”

    I have it on good authority that the media can be tamed by luring them into questions they claim to know the answers to and illustrate on live television, using the 1L Socratic method, that they haven’t been paying attention all along.

    The biggest problem isn’t so much the ability to do it, but caring enough to do it.

    Here’s where I am on the caring scale lately:

    Ed Norton: “Hey Ralph, mind if I smoke?”

    Ralph Cramden: “I don’t care if ya burn.”

  31. Bob,

    I know apathy is a problem but I just don’t care.

    All apologies to the Smothers Bros., from whom I “liberated” that joke.

Comments are closed.