Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education

06.14 The Trump administration is waging a quiet war on education

Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

06.19 Engineers boost output of solar desalination system by 50% [Trump fires scientist. It would be far better to enable their good work.]

06.19 Can planting billions of trees save the planet?

06.19 Vermont adopts the most comprehensive plastics ban in U.S.

06.19 We’ll Never Solve Immigration If We Don’t Solve Climate Change [Why is our President so willfully stupid?]

06.19 Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted

06.18 Photograph lays bare reality of melting Greenland sea ice ice sheet

06.18 Because 'This Is a Public Health Crisis,' Pennsylvania Gov. Urged to Investigate Link Between Fracking and Childhood Cancers

06.18 The Worst Patients in the World [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]

06.18 Navy Contaminates Local Groundwater and Sewer System in Maryland [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]

06.18 Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]

06.18 Call to arms: how can Australia avoid a slow and painful decline?

06.18 Soaring Temperatures Speed Up Spring Thaw on Greenland’s Ice Sheet

06.17 Hopes for climate progress falter with coal still king across Asia [Governments must subsidize very rapid installation of renewable energy to displace all fossil energy—aka DEATH ENERGY—power plants that must be made illegal ASAP]

06.17 Oil companies double down on plastics as public outcry grows [Obscene!]

06.17 Ocasio-Cortez: "We’re Going to Fight to Repeal the Hyde Amendment"

06.15 'The Changes Are Really Accelerating': Alaska at Record Warm While Greenland Sees Major Ice Melt

06.15 So much plastic is being made that "recycling has no impact" [Non-recyclable plastic must be made illegal to manufacture, use]

06.15 Climate crisis: aviation industry hears clamour for electric planes

06.15 We must transform our lives and values to save this burning planet [Increased ice melt in polar latitudes has been disguising reality in the middle latitudes. This effect will soon be replaced by record heat as ice volume and seasonal melting increasingly declines.]

06.15 This all-male council in Texas just voted to ban abortion [1:59 video; Bad assumptions foment ignorant actions...]

06.14 The Trans Mountain pipeline is a disaster – but Trudeau can make it right

06.14 The Pentagon emits more greenhouse gases than Portugal, study finds

06.14 Climate crisis: Alaska is melting and it’s likely to accelerate global heating

06.13 Chemical companies at centre of Guardian's Cancer Town series face state legal action [7:56 video]

06.12 'This is not a "what if" story': Tokyo braces for the earthquake of a century

06.12 Plant Species Have Been Disappearing 500 Times Faster Than Normal, Thanks to Humans

06.12 Atmospheric carbon levels are leaping. We can't afford more years like this

06.12 Politics as Usual and Planetary Destruction

06.12 Most 'meat' in 2040 will not come from dead animals, says report

News Media Matters

06.15 China's Expanding Media Dominance in Africa

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

06.19 America has never gone this long without hiking the federal minimum wage [The poor would spend every penny and help the economy and decrease health costs. Only dummies don't understand the costly effects of penury.]

06.19 When migrants arrived in droves, this poor New Mexico city opened its arms [A good example for us all: This is the way we must respond to human suffering]

06.18 It's A Horrible Idea To Privatize The Tennessee Valley Authority And Other Public Energy Assets [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]

06.18 The secret to Elizabeth Warren's surge? Ideas

06.18 Tobacco's 'Special Friend': What Internal Documents Say About Mitch McConnell [His immorality is in complete control]

06.17 Climate change leadership would create a new 'American century' [We must incentivize the strategic good, again, before it's too late.]

06.17 Jon Stewart takes aim at McConnell in continued fight for 9/11 victim compensation fund [2:56 C-SPAN video]

06.17 Drug Cop Worth $400 Million After Bets on Brooklyn Real Estate [A better role-model than Trump or Kushner!]

06.15 Hard Times in the Imperial Valley

06.15 Ro Khanna Forces Beltway Bandit to Refund Millions From Price Gouging

06.15 White House physicist sought aid of rightwing thinktank to challenge climate science [When your President is a quack he naturally surrounds himself with sycophants]

Justice Matters

06.19 'Credible evidence' Saudi crown prince liable for Khashoggi killing – UN report

High Crimes

06.18 As promised, Trump slashes aid to Central America over migrants [Is THIS the cruelest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]

06.18 ‘The Saudis couldn’t do it without us’: the UK’s true role in Yemen’s deadly war [If you act psychopathic you are psychopathic; 3:40 Video: Where have all the flowers (and morals and young men) gone, long time passing, sung by Marlene Dietreich]

06.17 'Blatant Theft': Netanyahu Unveils Illegal Settlement Named 'Trump Heights' in Occupied Syrian Territory [Great deal: the U.S. gives Israel $Billions every year, and they name an illegal settlement—to be built on Palestinian land—after Trump]

Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

06.15 'Eye-Popping': Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion [More equality or bring back the guillotines!]

International & Futurism

06.19 Trump Enabled an ‘Act of Organized Crime’ in Guatemala [Trump and other mafia-dons cause refugees and migrants as much as global warming]

06.19 Ireland to ban new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030

06.19 Madrid’s new rightwing council suspends low-emissions zone [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

06.19 UK firms told they face 'deliberate disruption' to hit zero carbon goal

06.19 Donald Trump’s reckless Iran policy casts doubt on the US as global leader [America's reputation has plummeted more speedily since Trump's dubious election, with professionals willfully replaced with less competent appointees or left unfilled in many federal government agencies]

06.19 Women outperform men after Japan medical school stops rigging exam scores

06.19 UK climate plan unclear, says European commission

06.18 'If This Is True, They Are Even Bigger Lunatics Than We Realized': UN Officials Reportedly Believe Trump Planning 'Massive' Bombing Campaign in Iran [Never underestimate the stupidity of the Trump Administration]

06.18 The United States Should Welcome a Strong, United Latin America

06.18 Solidarity With Glenn Greenwald

06.18 Theresa May could yet give us the ultimate parting gift: a Brexit referendum

06.18 The Trump administration's dangerous fever dream about Iran

06.18 Iran will not wage war against any nation, says Hassan Rouhani [Economic sanctions are cruel punishment to innocent civilians causing hate for generations. We will reap what Trump sows.]

06.17 Saudi Arabia May Execute Teenager for His Protests — Including When He Was 10 [America's “best ally” is psychopathically insane]

06.17 Why Venezuela Is the Vietnam of Our Time [Powerful, clear writing!]

06.17 US Attacks Russia’s Power Grid; Trump Kept in Dark

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Obama's Torture Hypocrisy
Newspaper logo

HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE:

Obama's Torture Hypocrisy

by Jason Leopold
Originally published on June 29, 2009

President Barack Obama just announced that the U.S. government "must stand against torture wherever it takes place," but it’s clear that his pledge does not apply to torture committed by officials from the Bush administration.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Obama quietly released a statement on Friday in which he said, “My administration is committed to taking concrete actions against torture and to address the needs of its victims.”

Obama's statement left out his decision to “look forward, not backward” on the issue of Bush-era torture or how he has discouraged any investigation of former President George W. Bush, ex-Vice President Dick Cheney and other officials involved in sanctioning and practicing torture, brutal tactics that human groups claim killed at least 100 prisoners in U.S. custody

Instead, in his statement, Obama simply declared that “today, we join the international community in reaffirming unequivocally the principles behind that Convention, including the core principle that torture is never justified.”

The 1984 Convention Against Torture was approved by 145 nations, including the United States which signed it in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan. He hailed the treaty as "a significant step" in preventing torture, "an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today."

The Convention declares that: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

Moreover, the Convention says individuals who resort to torture cannot defend their actions by saying they were acting on orders from superiors and it mandates that torturers be prosecuted wherever they are found. According to that provision, "each state party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution."

In a May 20, 1988, message to the U.S. Senate, Reagan noted, "the core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called 'universal jurisdiction.'"

Evading the Treaty

It was this Convention, ratified by the Senate in 1994, that Bush administration officials sought to bypass with legal memos, many drafted by John Yoo of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

Obama’s declaration on Friday comes at a time when the international community has become acutely aware of the policy of torture implemented by the Bush administration – and of Obama’s resistance to any type of comprehensive investigation whether it be by a congressional committee, a blue-ribbon commission or the Justice Department.

It’s also clear that the United States is guilty of many of the offenses that the U.S. government has in the past accused “rogue regimes” of committing, such as hiding torture victims from human rights monitors. For example, under the Bush administration, the military routinely hid prisoners in U.S. custody from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

In a Jan. 2, 2004, memo drafted for military police and interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and signed by Col. Marc Warren, the top legal adviser to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, was entitled “New plan to restrict Red Cross access to Abu Ghraib.” The contents of that memo have never been released.

In 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted that at the request of then-CIA Director George Tenet, he authorized the U.S. military in the fall of 2003 to hide an Iraqi prisoner from the ICRC and other organizations that monitor the treatment of prisoners.

Rumsfeld told reporters at a June 17, 2004, press briefing that Tenet sent him a letter asking the U.S. military to imprison the Iraqi who was believed to be a high-ranking member of Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish terrorist group suspected of links to al-Qaeda. Tenet further told Rumsfeld to be sure the detainee was kept off the prisoner rolls, which he was for six months.

"We were asked not to immediately register the individual, and we did that," Rumsfeld told reporters at the time.

Documents obtained by the Senate Armed Services Committee go even further. Minutes of an Oct. 2, 2002, meeting at which Lt. Col. Diane Beaver, then the chief military lawyer at Guantanamo whose responsibilities included working with the ICRC, discussed concealing abusive interrogation tactics when ICRC officials visited.

"We may need to curb the harsher operations while ICRC is around," Beaver said, according to the minutes. "It is better not to expose them to any controversial techniques."

"We have had many reports from Bagram [detention center in Afghanistan] about sleep deprivation being used," responded Dave Becker of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

"True, but officially it is not happening," Beaver said. "It is not being reported officially. The ICRC is a serious concern. They will be in and out, scrutinizing our operations, unless they are displeased and decide to protest and leave. This would draw a lot of negative attention."

Jonathan Fredman, who was the chief counsel for the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, noted that the "the CIA is not held to the same rules as the military" when it comes to using aggressive techniques to interrogate detainees.

"In the past when the ICRC has made a big deal about certain detainees, the DOD has 'moved' them away from the attention of the ICRC," Fredman said. "The Torture Convention prohibits torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. The US did not sign up on the second part, because of the 8th amendment (cruel and unusual punishment), but we did sign the part about torture. This gives us more license to use more controversial techniques."

Beaver interjected: "We will need documentation to protect us."

High-Minded Words

Taking office in January, Obama announced that his administration would not condone or practice torture, but he also opposed holding Bush administration officials accountable out of fear that his actions might be deemed vindictive. He has held to that position although Attorney General Eric Holder and CIA Director Leon Panetta both agreed that the near-drowning experience of waterboarding was torture.

Bush’s Justice Department lawyers also approved a list of other torture techniques to be used against so-called “high-value” prisoners, including beatings, sleep deprivation for 11 consecutive days, placing insects inside a confinement box to induce fear, exposing detainees to extreme heat and cold, and shackling prisoners to the ceilings of their prison cells or in other painful “stress positions.”

Under the Convention Against Torture, the clear record that the Bush administration used waterboarding and other brutal techniques should have triggered the United States to conduct a full investigation and to prosecute the offenders. If the United States refused, other nations would be obligated to act under the principle of universality.

Instead, Obama’s high-minded declaration on Friday substituted words for action.

"Torture violates United States and international law as well as human dignity,” he said. “Torture is contrary to the founding documents of our country, and the fundamental values of our people. It diminishes the security of those who carry it out, and surrenders the moral authority that must form the basis for just leadership.

“That is why the United States must never engage in torture, and must stand against torture wherever it takes place."


Jason Leopold

Jason Leopold has launched his own Web site, The Public Record, at www.pubrecord.org.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on June 22, 2009.

 

Public Service Ads: