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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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:

  4. 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.”

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.”

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