United Nation’s Report Condemns The United States For Human Rights Violations, Including Blocking Prosecution Of Those Responsible For Torture

President_Barack_Obama150px-OHCHR_logoThe United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a report slamming the United States on torture and surveillance — the last international condemnation of the United States that is now viewed by many as a threat to civil liberties and international law. This follows international reports condemning the Obama Administration for its attacks on the free press and Internet freedoms. The demand for action on torture revives one of the greatest failures of the Obama Administration when the President, shown after taking office, assured CIA employees that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture despite the existence of international treaties obligating us to carry out such prosecutions. The President has admitted (as is clear from domestic and international rulings) that water boarding is torture. What is fascinating is that those who continue to defend this Administration dismiss the criticisms of respected international public interest groups, award-winning journalists, and even United Nations organizations in such condemnations. It is part of what has become a blind loyalty for an iconic president over long-standing principles. As noted by a widening array of organizations and experts, Obama has proven a perfect nightmare for civil liberties — once a core and defining area for Democrats and liberals alike.

The report chastises the United States for an array of concerns from harsh sentencing for juveniles to drone attacks to global surveillance. Amnesty International’s U.N. representative noted that “The U.S. is adept at demanding human rights change from other governments, while failing to meet international standards itself.”

On torture, the report found that the evidence of a torture program by the United States is clear and called for an investigation and prosecution of members of the “armed forces and other agents of the U.S. government.” While there should be no need to remind this country: “The State party [the United States] should ensure that all cases of unlawful killing, torture or other ill-treatment, unlawful detention, or enforced disappearance are effectively, independently and impartially investigated, that perpetrators, including, in particular, persons in command positions, are prosecuted and sanctioned, and that victims are provided with effective remedies.” Only a few principled Democratic members have denounced Obama for his blocking of the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for torture.

torture -abu ghraibI have previously written about the cynical calculation that led to Obama blocking the prosecution for those responsible for the torture program. He knew such prosecutions would be unpopular, and with so many constitutional principles since that time, he just did not see the value in adhering to principle (even those embodied within binding treaty obligations). Since Obama ran on a civil liberties platform, many expected an independent torture investigation as soon as he took office. After all, waterboarding is one of the oldest forms of torture, pre-dating the Spanish Inquisition (when it was called tortura del agua). It has long been defined as torture by both U.S. and international law, and by Obama himself. Torture, in turn, has long been defined as a war crime, and the United States is under treaty obligation to investigate and prosecute such crimes.

However, such a principle did not make for good politics. Accordingly, as soon as he was elected, Obama set out to dampen talk of prosecution. Various intelligence officials and politicians went public with accounts of the Obama administration making promises to protect Bush officials and CIA employees from prosecution. Though the White House denied the stories, Obama later gave his controversial speech at the CIA headquarters and did precisely that. In the speech, he effectively embraced the defense of befehl ist befehl (“an order is an order”). As I have written before (here and here), the Obama Administration has destroyed some of the core Nuremburg principles, particularly in its revisal of the “superior orders defense” to excuse U.S. officials.

The appearance of torture in the list of criticisms in the report shows that the world has not forgotten our towering hypocrisy in this area and the President’s decision to shield our own officials from prosecution — even after CIA officials admitted to destroying evidence of torture to protect themselves from any later investigation. China now regularly cites our own torture program — and the protection of U.S. officials responsible for the program — to defect criticism of its own programs.

What we have lost in the last decade is not simply clarity in dealing with human rights and civil liberties but credibility in voicing what were once undeniably American values.

80 thoughts on “United Nation’s Report Condemns The United States For Human Rights Violations, Including Blocking Prosecution Of Those Responsible For Torture

  1. I’m sorry to say it is going to likely be a long time before the US politicians decide to do what is best for citizens and constitutional values.

  2. That Nobel prize is a bit tarnished.

    I agree Darren, our biggest problem is the ‘leaders’ of our country do not do what is best for All the People…not all, but most do what is best for them or the people the corporations that give them money…I know, Captain Obvious here and his sidekick Duh!

  3. You don’t say…. And we’d be in the business of telling Russia how to get along with the Ukraine….. Why not….

  4. “Obama has proven a perfect nightmare for civil liberties — once a core and defining area for Democrats and liberals alike.” Let’s face facts, most Dems have always made civil liberty promises, but few delivered–unless it meant money in their pockets. To the public the Dems wear the mask of civil liberties, while in the back room they corrupt and steal from the taxpayers.

    “Only a few principled Democratic members have denounced Obama for his blocking of the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for torture.”
    Only a few Democrats have denounced Obama on anything.

    In my opinion, Obama’s election was a planned scam, he had no experience in politics, he did little to help the poor in Chicago, his credentials have been shady and questionable, his policies are destroying this once great nation, his friends and acquaintances are shady with Marxist ideas, his ideas lean too far left, ushering in socialism, he only calls on God when he needs to calm the God believers, he’s chipping away at the people’s rights, everyone who works for him lies or pleads the 5th, his parents and grandparents had suspicious philosophies that leaned toward communism, his smooth talking oratory completely bamboozled his devoted followers–it even brought some of his loyal fans to tears…and their so much more that he’s done to destroy our nation.

  5. While I agree with the criticism of Obama for not going after the criminals of Bush and Cheney, I have to note that Prof. Turley and other lawyers have a good target of opportunity to shoot at in the legal profession, Prof Yoo, since he was the official who stated that waterboarding is not torture. Perhaps the lawyers could get the ABA to pass at least a resolution denouncing and calling for sanctions against him for his crimes. I will be more impressed when I see the lawyers making an effort to clean up scum like Yoo, THEN the denunciations of Obama in this regard will be seen as part and parcel of lawyers trying to follow the law and principle. Absent this, I will have to conclude that they are as guilty of Obama’s sin of overlooking these crimes.

  6. As far as rating this Administrative Branch of our country goes, on the simplistic scale of 1 to 10(which is best) I would have to, in my sheep-skin-less opinion opt for perhaps a “6”

    Only our Military, and the others who put their lives on the line for all of the rest of us would get my “10” – Yes I do consider them an equally important “Branch”

    The legislators deserve nothing above a “2”

    The Judiciary I consider to be an enemy, Minus 6 for the “courthouse Gang” and dropping. They serve only themselves.

    Butt…….What do I know?

    I’m just a Lower Middle-Class-Mate and it’s always my turn in the barrel *!*


    He should have been arrested years ago!
    The U.S. Governments, Courts and Media are Corrupt
    All the U.S. Invasions are Illegal as were the Nazi Invasions
    Washington, DC = Nazi Berlin

    Obama, Bush, Zionist Jews, Congress, U.S. Gov’t / Military / Media, et al have made Americans hated torturous War Criminals to the world
    OBAMA is a black Hitler, Mass Murderer / Maimer, Torturer, Baby Killer, Warmonger, Supreme War Criminal, Forger, Fraud, Thief, Pathological Liar, Psychopath, Wall Street Stooge, Zionist Lickspittle, Fascist, Nazi.


    All the leaders of the U.S. and world not voicing this Truth are stupid and corrupt. The U.S. Government is an Empire of Lies.
    Any politician or news commentator who has not exposed Obama’s forged ID’s and his usurpation of the presidency cannot be trusted
    Obama was Ineligible Constitutionally in many ways for the Office of President
    Everything Obama and his criminal administration have done / signed is ILLEGAL, NULL and VOID.

    Sheriff Joe Arpaio: New Criminal Evidence About To Be Released

  9. Giovanna:
    I agree with your overall assessment, but perhaps academically I would say Obama is more Fascist than Marxist. He is an opportunist in promoting statism more than just socialism.

    As to Prof JT, what a laudatorily relentless hounding he pounding Obama through.
    A lawyer friend of mine said, “I remember when Turley was just a go to talking head for the cable tv news channels. He was just a miquetoast personality that didn’t particular stir up any controversy or deeply criticize anyone. Now he has transformed into something completely different.”

    And that is so true, Turley is a firebrand for political honesty and civil liberties.
    He pulls no punches on Obama’s constitutional heresies and hypocrisy.

  10. I remember watching a documentary on US torture. One man said he used to believe the US would rescue people who were being tortured. He said that was the nation he thought victims could turn to for help. Instead, they were the nation torturing him.

    Of course the US has been involved in torture for a very long time. Yet passing a law against torture during the Regan administration was a real step forward. After 9/11 our citizens seemed to go mad. For a long while citizens agreed that anything and everything was acceptable in the face of “terrists”. The government cynically manipulated people’s fears and pounded home lie after lie about the effectiveness, lawfulness and wholesome goodness of torture. That Cheney can say he did not break the law is ludicrous.

    However, I do not agree that prosecutions for torture would have been politically unpopular. Obama was elected on a platform to restore the rule of law and to stop torture. That is what people wanted, including Republicans. Many Republicans voted for Obama because of this.

    Starting in about 2005, the American public really began repudiating the lawlessness of this govt. It took the election of a cult figure such as Obama to bring the American public back into the fold in its support of lawlessness.

    We should pay attention to what happened and why. The American public has supported the unsupportable twice in recent history, the first after 9/11, the second, after the election of Obama. The govt. could not get away with this unless a large majority of people supported these actions or simply didn’t care.

    Indeed, we are the ones tearing down our own society. We are easy to manipulate because people will not stand on principle. We need to repudiate this lawlessness, this enormous cruelty. We must decide to be better people in our nation. We cannot let either fear and worship of a leader keep us bound to actions of great destruction.

    This is the time to stop making excuses and face up to what has happened and what is happening. We owe this to each other and we owe it to other nations around the world.

  11. Giovanni, We got a glimpse into Obama’s mindset w/ his “clinging to their guns and God” derisive comment in a speech he gave to SF Dems. He is a Nixon/Carter hybrid.

  12. I supported Obama in 2008 and 2012 and must admit that I am very disappointed in his Presidency. He is an ineffectual leader and I thought he would be more progressive and dynamic in the mold of LBJ—instead he turned out to be a moderate Republican.

    It’s not only former Bush Administration officials but Wall Street Bankers that should have been prosecuted. Instead war criminals and one of the biggest heists on record go unpunished and in some cases rewarded.
    He can give a good speech which fooled a lot of people, including me.


    Barack Obama’s real name is Barry Soetoro aka “Bathhouse Barry” a homosexual hustler drug user from Chicago.

    Putin and many other world leaders are blackmailing Obama with his forged ID’s and usurping the presidency.

    Putin, et al could bring down Obama with the records of Harry Bounel, whose SSN 042-68-4425 Obama is using, Obama’s forged birth certificate, forged selective service registration, War Crimes, high treason and many, many other crimes.

  14. Danny/BVM, What is your position of the legal investigation of those who evidence shows likely committed the war crime of torture?

  15. While W was easily manipulated by special interests, Presidents Clinton and Obama would not be easily manipulated if they actually had any power over international affairs. Therefore, it appears that they have no power. Power lies with those who control the most money and the most weapons.

  16. We will eventually find an honest judge / Congressman
    Follow the evidence / money.wherever they lead 
    Start loading up the prison buses.
    Clear them out of the White House, Congress, Supreme Court,
    U.S. Gov’t, Washington, DC, Bush / Obama administrations, Media, Pentagon, etc.

    I do not believe in capital punishment

  17. On torture Bush said, “Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. I’d do it again to save lives.”
    Cheney said, “I was a big supporter of waterboarding…I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques…I signed off on it.”

  18. “A Debate on Torture: Legal Architect of CIA Secret Prisons, Rendition vs. Human Rights Attorney”:

    Refer to YouTube posting at 1:35 pm, above

    “As the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence feuds with the CIA over the declassification of its 6,000-page report on the agency’s secret detention and interrogation programs, we host a debate between former CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo and human rights attorney Scott Horton. This comes as the United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticized the Obama administration for closing its investigations into the CIA’s actions after Sept. 11. A U.N. report issued Thursday stated, “The Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meager number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives.” Rizzo served as acting general counsel during much of the George W. Bush administration and was a key legal architect of the U.S. interrogation and detention program after the Sept. 11 attacks. He recently published a book titled “Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA.” Attorney Scott Horton is contributing editor at Harper’s magazine and author of the forthcoming book, “Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy.””

  19. FtG,

    I remember that.

    Cheney was always saying how he wanted to save lives (which lives?) as if he was engaging in civil disobedience, torturing for the greater good. I always wondered then why he wouldn’t submit himself before a court of law after he ordered torture.

    If he was working for the greater good, this being his only motive, then he should have submitted himself to the court for judgment.

    Anon Posted,

    Thank you for all the excellent links.

  20. Shorter Richard B(ionic heart) Cheney said:
    “Saddam torture bad, US torture good.”

    If the principle to strive for is one where trhe bad and ugly things you do aren’t bad and ugly but only are bad and ugly when other people do it… Trust me, you’ve become another member of those “other people” (Because they rationalize their crap just like you did).

  21. CALL your House Representative on these issues!
    I don’t care if your guys did it or are doing it now!
    If it’s ok for ANYONE to TORTURE, then it’s ok to torture YOU!

    This is basic humanity. Why are lawyers so silent on this issue?
    The streets should be filled with lawyers.
    He||, this Admin doesn’t respect Lawyer/client confidentiality.
    This Admin doesn’t respect human Rights!
    Drone-bama, cold killer!

  22. My guess on the country the NSA is collecting 100% of communications on is…
    … The United States of America.

  23. p.s.
    I would feel much more ‘secure’ if Kim Jun Un would promise to not target ‘another’ wedding party this time.
    … Just saying.

  24. Only talk. Talk, talk ,talk. No one , or group of people are smart enough or
    strong enough to stop the abusive powers of the Presidency.

  25. Danny, I wondered if you would be willing to answer whether you think there should be prosecutions of Bush and Cheney for torture?

  26. Jill, yes most definitely for them and for Obama’s administration too. In my opinion many of them are complicit. All involved with the War Crimes / Obstruction should be prosecuted. If I had the authority I couldn’t sign the papers quickly enough.

  27. I agree that torture continues: “Jon Eisenberg, pro bono counsel for Mr Rabbani, said: “It is sadly ironic that, while Washington debates torture by the CIA a decade ago, it is happening right now at Guantanamo Bay on President Obama’s watch.”

    WASHINGTON – March 27 – A father of three from Pakistan will today join historic litigation demanding that a US court of law intervene to halt prisoner abuse at Guantánamo Bay.

    Ahmed Rabbani, who has been held without charge or trial since 2005, is being abusively force-fed and harshly disciplined as part of the military’s efforts to break his year-long hunger strike. He suffers from serious medical problems as a result.

    Unlike prisoners held on US soil, Ahmed has previously been barred from challenging the legality of the methods by which he is force-fed at Guantánamo Bay. Last month, he was granted the right to do so by DC’s federal court of appeals, and on March 11 fellow prisoner Imad Abdullah Hasan filed the historic first challenge to the procedure. Today, Ahmed will file his own claim in federal court, and the military will be required to answer to a judge on his daily ordeal.

    The mounting litigation against the regime at Guantánamo exposes the daily brutality of the force-feeding process, which the military has rendered progressively more painful in order to break hunger strikes at the camp.

    Ahmed’s legal team will add their argument to growing evidence that Guantánamo’s force-feeding of peaceful protesters amounts to torture. Ahmed’s motion to enjoin his abusive force-feeding will be filed in the DC District Court today (Thursday March 27) by Eric Lewis of Lewis Baach, Jon B. Eisenberg and Alka Pradhan of Reprieve US.

    Alka Pradhan, Reprieve US counsel for Ahmed Rabbani, said: “Under the guise of keeping them alive, Mr Rabbani and his fellow hunger-strikers are being abused and degraded simply for exercising their right to peaceful protest. They have suffered enough. At the very least, the court must order the inhumane Guantanamo force-feeding practices to follow those used on US soil.”

    Jon Eisenberg, pro bono counsel for Mr Rabbani, said: “It is sadly ironic that, while Washington debates torture by the CIA a decade ago, it is happening right now at Guantanamo Bay on President Obama’s watch.”

    Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.


  28. I guess the right wing moonbat links provides balance to the left wing moonbat links that ruled here for a long time. Water always finds its level.

  29. bill mcwilliams,
    Ah, the Royalty of Clinton. Much like the Bush clan.
    Imagine a Clinton vs. Bush elections 2016.
    Might as well be 1716, England.

  30. Dredd, your confidence is misplaced about Reagan upholding the laws. His FIRST campaign stop was to Philadelphia, MS where the three civil rights workers were murdered. That was to send a message that no further Federal interventions would be coming for murdering folks they did not like. Cheney knew Reagan FAR better than you or most of us, so I will take his word for what Reagan would or would not do. Then I also remember Reagan’s CIA ordering the murder of a US citizen, Ben LInder, in NIcaragua while he was working on a micro-hydroelectric power system for rural areas since he was a civil engineer. Then we have his CIA bombing US journalists in Nicaragua attending the Pastora press conference in that country. We also have the mass murder he ordered to proceed in Argentina and told them to do it quickly and massively. Since I did not know Reagan, I will have to take the words of those who did, and his actual deeds, such as going ahead with laying a wreath at the graves of the SS troops who murdered nearly one hundred GIs who they had taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge. So please forgive me if I think that Reagan would have been quite happy to torture.

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