Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When is torture ... Torture

I n the late 50's and early 60's there was a gang of villian's who controlled the whole of London using tactics known as torture. These ranged from extracting toe-nails with pliers, gouging of eyes, sleep deprivation and water torture. That gang was known as the Krays, who went on to notoriety as Britain's infamous Twins, who eventually died while serving the rest of their lives behind bars for the crimes they committed.

This sounds very familar to the crimes outlined by Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights have been outspoken in their criticism, while monitoring the complaints and leaked photographs from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. A quote from Amnesty International "The release of CIA memos on interrogation methods by the US Department of Justice appears to have offered a get-out-of-jail-free card to people involved in torture," says it all.

It is not surprising that Barak Obama failed to apportion any blame at the hands of the previous leaders: merrsers Bush, Cheney et al, but that he did so - in a way as to completely overlook that main point; that torture against prisoners of war never mind innocent victims, the CIA and Intelligent Services believe responsible in terrorist activities breaches all constitution of the Third Geneva Convention "relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War".

In the documentary film Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, John Yoo says that though he doesn't think the Geneva Conventions covered Abu Ghraib, he believes the soldiers and their commanding officers felt the techniques used fell within the Conventions. The abuses at Abu Ghraib occurred in the immediate aftermath of a decision by Rumsfeld to step up the hunt for "actionable intelligence" among Iraqi prisoners. The general who oversaw intelligence gathering at GITMO was brought in to overhaul interrogation practices in Iraq, and teams of interrogators from GITMO were sent to Abu Ghraib. The commanding general in Iraq issued orders to "manipulate an internee's emotions and weaknesses." Military police were ordered by military intelligence to "set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses." instill fear. As the CIA agents are off the hook, it didn't take long for the military to prosecute military policemen Graner, England and Frederick who were found guilty for their acts at Abu Ghraib. It was at this point, that allegations by prisoners were suddenly taken serious by International lawyers, which basically came to a abrupt conclusion this week when Barak Obama released his statement exhonorating any blame of the C.I.A. or the "Infamous 5" of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, Powell and Rice. If only the Kray twins had been so lucky.....

The memos released last week would be comical if they weren't so tragic about the level of legal hairsplitting. In the case of Abu Zubaydah, the Justice Department lawyer instructed that as long as the CIA did not tell him anything about the insect, and the insect was non-stinging, "the insect's placement in the box would not constitute a threat of severe physical pain or suffering to a reasonable person in his position." Just how a lawyer sitting in his office in Washington, D.C., would know what a "reasonable person in his position" might think is unclear.

There clearly needs to be a torture investigation; personally, I'd prefer that it be led by an independent prosecutor at this point. I think there is more than enough proof that laws were broken, and we need accountability in Government and High Office.

Barak Obama's failure to prosecute any of the CIA members responsible for, God knows how many deaths in their pursuit for 'War on Terror' stating that they cannot be held accountable while acting under orders from supervisors no longer in a position of power is tantamount to letting Charles Manson free on the claim that he is heterosexual. Obama's refusal to hold accountable those responsible for the wrongs so evident from the memos is unacceptable. A child would recognise these tactics as cruel and inhumane. After eight years without transparency or accountability, Mr. Obama promised the American people and the world both. Another choice of fancy words without much substance, full of trickery and disguise but nothing more than a famous burger, without relish.


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