By Paul J. Balles | 8 September 2009
“No society has remained free that has allowed its government to torture human beings.”
Paul J. Balles reviews Michael Haas’s book, George W. Bush, War Criminal, which argues that, under the Bush administration, the US lost its traditional respect for the rule of law and makes the case for prosecuting Bush for 269 war crimes. An "incredibly well researched" book, it should prove an invaluable resource in any future prosecution of George W. Bush.
Following the antics of George W. Bush during his eight-year presidency was something of a roller-coaster ride at times. Believing that it was right to invade Afghanistan after 9/11 to locate, capture and prosecute Osama bin Laden made sense. However, that sensibility went downhill when it seemed the coalition forces weren’t even looking for bin Laden.
At other times, Bush’s arrogant aggressiveness in foreign policy was simply disgusting, leading me to write numerous articles critical of his foreign policy. There was no doubt in my mind that Bush was a war criminal. Now, a notable scholar has written a great book giving credence to what I simply believed.
In the Bush administration, the US lost its traditional respect for the rule of law. In his book George W. Bush, War Criminal, Michael Haas makes the case for prosecuting Bush for 269 war crimes.
Despite the fact that the attacks on 9/11 were monstrous unprovoked crimes that left everyone feeling vulnerable, the US Senate rejected Bush's request for unlimited war powers. As Haas points out, the Senate passed the Patriot Act, which Bush used as an excuse to take action that was clearly illegal.
According to Haas, "In the process, the Bush administration unnecessarily violated American statutes and international treaties that establish the law of warfare."
Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld believed that international law placed unrealistic restrictions on the US, about which Bush commented, "I don't care what the international lawyers say. We are going to kick some ass."
Of course, Bush and his administration, with his approval did much worse than "kick some ass". They committed wars of aggression, took prisoners, paid bounty hunters for captures of innocents and tortured prisoners.
The torturers were looking for information about al-Qaeda. Many of the prisoners created fake scenes only to satisfy their torturers. Haas writes: "Some fantastic plots ... were fabricated by suspected terrorist leaders who were being tortured and wanted the cruelty to end."
Bush's violations of the constitution as well as domestic and international law have besmirched the reputation of the United States. In so doing, they have accomplished a goal of which the al-Qaeda terrorists only dreamed – to transform the United States into a rogue nation, feared by the rest of the world and loved by almost none.
There's no better reason to bring Bush and his guilty minions to trial than this. A simple reversal to civilized behavior is not enough. The barbarians must be exposed and punished if America ever hopes to regain its status as a respectable leader.
Growing support for impeaching Bush has appeared on the Internet over the past six years. Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced a resolution in Congress. More than two million Americans signed petitions demanding Bush's impeachment.
This movement, which lacked enough support for impeachment proceedings to materialize, has now morphed into a movement to indict Bush for war crimes. President Obama has said "nobody is above the law".
In the opening chapter of his book, Haas identifies the background to the "Bush doctrine" – which Bush and his advisors used to consider 9/11 an act of war (illegally) justifying pre-emptive strikes and invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Almost all of the advisors from Cheney on down, including justice department lawyers involved in implementing the "Bush doctrine", are listed in this first chapter along with full delineation of the elements of the "war on terror" as the basis of Bush's illegal actions. Many of these have been successfully challenged in court since 2004, but some of the primary elements have not.
The "war on terror" has been the most misused and terrifying label to emerge from the last decade – from the era of the George W. Bush presidency.
Unchallenged elements to date have included "Countries allowing terrorist organizations on their soil may be attacked". (the justification for the invasion of Afghanistan). Then there was the justification for invading Iraq: "Hostile countries with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) may be attacked pre-emptively." Of course, there were no WMDs.
Haas has almost three pages of elements of the "Bush doctrine", like "Bold unilateral action deters terrorism", and "the US must refuse to talk with countries that follow 'bad policies', and democracy must be imported abroad". More than 20 elements of the Bush doctrine have never been challenged in the courts. An equal number have been successfully challenged.
In June 2006, the tide of the untouchable Bush monarchy began to change. The Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld that Bush had authorized war crimes. Bush and his cohorts began to panic, though they kept it concealed.
Haas concludes the opening chapter with a one-paragraph outline of the book: "...to ascertain whether George W. Bush and members of his administration could be charged and convicted as war criminals”.
Accordingly, the four chapters in Part II delineate 269 war crimes, citing documentary sources. The two chapters in Part III indicate which tribunals might place those accused on trial, who might be tried and whether war crimes trials are desirable."
In Part II, Haas defines four types of war crimes. He says: "They focus on (1) the legality of war, (2) the conduct of war, (3) treatment of prisoners and (4) the conduct of the post-war occupation."
The first crime taken up in the book cover Crimes of Aggression. Haas explains the concept of "just wars"; and he traces the history of international law of warfare. "International law allows a right of reprisal and a right of self-defence," writes Haas.
However, Bush was guilty of committing the basic war crime of aggression. That included the waging, threatening, planning and preparing for wars of aggression in both Afghanistan and Iraq. It's also illegal to aid rebels in a civil war and to produce propaganda for a war.
All of these are designated war crimes because they violate international conventions, precedents set by the Nuremburg trials following World War II, civil rights covenants, international agreements or the UN Charter. The book is thorough in citing the laws and agreements that apply to each type of war crime.
Haas devotes a chapter to "Crimes Committed in the Conduct of War". He makes one of many interesting historical references in the opening, noting that the Chinese president gave Bush a book by Sun-Tzu on the Art of War, written in 1600.
If Bush had read the book, he would have learned that the pernicious "shock and awe" attacks violated the principle that violence used in war should be no more than necessary to win. Instead, he committed 36 war crimes related to the conduct of war.
Haas even refers to how "in the seventh century the prophet Muhammad counselled warriors not to harm innocent women and children and not to destroy the homes and livelihoods of those conquered”.
As the book points out: "The basic principle of humane warfare, avoidance of unnecessary destruction to persons and property has been repeatedly violated." Prohibited targets and weapons, misconduct by soldiers and commanders, as well as the use of mercenaries, have all violated the laws of war.
The treatment of prisoners has involved the commission of 175 crimes. This has involved everything from locking people up in secret prisons outside of the US to terrible mistreatment in Abu Ghurayb, some of which has been captured on film, and wrongful imprisonment and torture in Guantanamo and other secret prisons in countries abroad.
General Tommy Franks ordered troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to follow the Geneva Conventions whenever they encountered enemy personnel. However, Bush would have none of it. The “gloves came off”, and thousands of prisoners were improperly treated.
Haas devotes 112 pages to describing the crimes against prisoners. He provides irrefutable evidence in support of the crimes he identifies with complete reference to the documents, laws and agreements violated.
If Bush comes to trial for his war crimes, as he should, this book would provide enough evidence to convict him. Saddam Hussain was hung for his crimes. Bush hasn't even been arrested.
One of the worst outcomes of having this criminal free and untried for his crimes is that "The experience of being brutally treated in an American prison outside of the United States has served to recruit many more terrorists." Haas also reports that many countries have decided to emulate Bush's practices with prisoners.
Haas starts the chapter on Crimes Committed in the Postwar Occupations with a salient comment on histories of occupations: "Although victorious armies throughout history have often treated vanquished people unjustly, benevolent occupation was considered desirable in ancient India... The Prophet Muhammad urged his warriors to treat conquered people mercifully."
Whereas international law regarding aggression, the conduct of war and treatment of prisoners is relatively straightforward, war crimes related to occupation lack clarity. There's no doubt that the failure to re-establish public order and safety is a war crime.
Haas identifies 50 Bush war crimes related to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, including crimes like failure to protect civilians and journalists, stop looters, denial of access to Red Cross and humanitarian agencies, handling of prisoners and mistreatment of women, children and the elderly.
All told, Haas provides clear descriptions of each of 269 war crimes committed by George W. Bush, including sources for the supporting evidence for each along with complete bibliographical references. The book is incredibly well researched.
Part III is devoted to The Prosecution of War Criminals. The last two chapters identify where and why lawsuits may be filed against members of the Bush administration and against George W. Bush himself.
Haas makes it clear that civilization itself is on trial when major war criminals go about their business with impunity. That was the sentiment expressed by Justice Robert Jackson at Nuremberg.
The need for Tribunals for War Crimes Prosecution arises from American and international law that provides the basis for lawsuits. However, sitting presidents cannot be brought to court on criminal offences. Chapter six indicates which tribunals have been and could be used for trials. Legal penalties are identified.
Haas wisely points out that "the potential for allowing a superpower to perpetrate war crimes with impunity would not only bury the concept of war crimes and trivialize Nuremberg, but might usher in a new era of international barbarism wherein a lone superpower could operate unchecked as a world tyrant".
The sixth chapter examines American and international tribunals as well as national tribunals outside of the US where prosecutions could take place.
The final chapter takes up The Bush Administration's War Crimes Liability. Some will argue that Bush is not directly responsible for every war crime identified in the analysis, so an assessment is made of his culpability because of his command responsibility. This principle was clearly established at Nuremberg.
The last chapter poses the question of whether Bush and his cohorts should be held accountable under domestic or international law. Some famous war criminals are identified and Bush's liability is examined. The arguments for and against his prosecution are made.
Useful appendices have been included covering (1) Legal Opinions and Executive Orders of Questionable Legality, (2) International Agreements Outlawing Aggressive War, (3) International Agreements Covering the conduct of War (4) Treatment of Prisoners, (5) Permitted Interrogation Techniques, (6) Forms of Abuse at American-Run Prisons, (7) Guidelines for Defining Torture and (8) Who in the Bush Administration is Culpable for Each of the 269 War Crimes
Michael Haas is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Hawaii and the Chairman of the International Academic Advisory Board of the University of Cambodia. He played a role in stopping the secret funding of the Khmer Rouge by the administration of President George H. W. Bush.
He has taught political science at the University of London, Northwestern University, Purdue University, and the University of California, Riverside.
He is the author or editor of 33 books on human rights, including International Human Rights (2008),International Human Rights in Jeopardy (2004), The Politics of Human Rights (2000), Improving Human Rights (Praeger, 1994), and Genocide by Proxy (Praeger, 1991).
Torture, War Crimes And A Civilian Holocaust For American Imperial ...
Torture, War Crimes and a Civilian Holocaust for American Imperial Domination – US Hypocrisy Astonishes the World. Posted on September 7, 2009 by fromthewilderness. Read AP's official statement regarding the release of the photos. ...
From The Wilderness - http://fromthewilderness.wordpress.com/
Psychologist Accused Of War Crimes Opposes Torture Investigations
Larry James (retired), about whom questions have been raised regarding unethical or even illegal participation in war crimes. In a press release from Wright ...
Psyche, Science, And Society » Psychologist Accused Of War Crimes ...
By Stephen Soldz
Larry James (retired), about whom questions have been raised regarding unethical or even illegal participation in war crimes. In a press release from Wright State University, where he is now Dean of the School of Professional Psychology ...
Psyche, Science, and Society - http://psychoanalystsopposewar.org/blog/
Irish4Palestine: Sweden Has What America Lost
Yes I'm referring to the latest charges of Israeli war crimes of organ harvesting in Palestine. Sweden's FM just cancelled a trip to Israel, good for him for not being “bullied” by the King of Duplicity and war crimes, Israel. ...
Irish4Palestine - http://irish4palestine.blogspot.com/
Prosecuting Israel For War Crimes « Dandelion Salad
The Real News Network – Prosecuting Israel for war crimes · RSS Citizens for a Legitimate Government · Iran: US feeding forged intelligence to U.N. nuclear watchdog · Islamabad: No Blackwater in Pakistan · Naked Pool Parties, ...
Dandelion Salad - http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/
Hague Court Targets October 19 As Karadzic Trial Date
THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic could go on trial as early as October 19 on charges of war crimes and crimes against ...
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Green Left - Video Evidence Of War Crimes Committed By Sri Lankan ...
The footage released last night shows what the Australian Tamil community along with human rights campaigners have long alleged: that the Sri Lankan military has been engaging in crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Tamil ...
Green Left Weekly issue #808 - http://www.greenleft.org.au/
War Crimes Trial Roadmap Likely This Month: Shafique
Bangladesh News 24 hours
Dhaka, Sep 6 (bdnews24.com)—Law minister Shafique Ahmed in Sunday said the war crimes trial process may start before the deadline of a citizen's group ...
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Delay in Trying a Head of State: Charles Taylor | War Crimes
By Lisa Gambone
After nearly two months of questioning in the Hague, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) has temporarily adjourned the Defense's questioning of former.
War Crimes - http://warcrimes.foreignpolicyblogs.com/
No Roadmap To War Crime Trial
By The Daily Star
The government will not announce any roadmap to war crimes trial but it might start the trial before December this year even before the ultimatum placed by Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee.
malarkynews - http://malarkynews.com/
A Dark Planet: Can We Finally Put One In Jail And Tell The Other ...
By David Terrenoire
More evidence that the smug Cheneys are talking out of their ample bums in what I can only presume is a preemptive effort to derail prosecution of Mr. Cheney for war crimes. Todays' column by Ali Soufan, a former FBI Special Agent, ...
A Dark Planet - http://terrenoire.blogspot.com/
War Crimes Charges Laid In South Africa 7aug09
The application calls on the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions to set in motion an investigation into war crimes committed by a number of Israelis linked to the Gaza massacre of December 2008-January 2009. ...
Australians for Palestine - http://australiansforpalestine.com/
Depleted Uranium Ammunition in Afghan War: New Evidence « NWO Observer
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NWO Observer - http://nwoobserver.wordpress.com/
No Right Turn: Hearts And Minds
Kiwi soldiers could be calling in those airstrikes, and committing war crimes so that the US does not have to admit the obvious: that it has once again lost a land war in Asia. This isn't just bad because it invites retaliation and is ...
No Right Turn - http://norightturn.blogspot.com/
Free Rata, Tadej, Ivan, Sanja And Nicola! At Slackbastard
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slackbastard - http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/
Pacific.Scoop.Co.Nz » 'Unlock The Camps' Call By Post-War Tamil ...
Kerr said Amnesty International believed both the LTTE and Sri Lankan military were responsible forwar crimes carried out during the final months of the war. While the LTTE used Tamil civilians as human shields, the Sri Lankan military ...
Pacific.scoop.co.nz - http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/
Friday morning, War Criminal Steven D. Green appeared in the Paducah Division of the US District Court's Western District of Kentucky Courthouse to be sentenced for his War Crimes. March 12, 2006, he participated in the gang-rape of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and then murdered her as he had earlier murdered both of her parents and her five-year-old sister.
"You can act like I'm a sociopath," snarled the War Criminal in court Friday according to AP's Brett Barrouguere. "You can act like I'm a sex offender or whatever. If I had not joined the Army, if I had not gone to Iraq, I would not have got caught up in anything."
Green, of course, joined the military only after his most recent arrest meant no more slaps on the wrists and serious jail time. Green, of course, is a sex offender. A rapist. A War Criminal.
Gone was the gaunt boy-child who was swallowed in his over-sized clothes. He'd packed on twenty to thirty pounds since the days when his attorneys tried to exhibit him as frail and waif-like. He looked like the thug he always was as he showed up in the courtroom overfed and in shackles.
Green's sentencing was a long time coming. The crimes took place March 12, 2006 and the feds took him into custody June 30, 2006. November 8th, 2006, Green entered a not guilty plea. His trial was delayed in 2008 due to a quilting fair (that's not a joke). He was tried in a civilian court because he'd already been discharged when the War Crimes came to light.
Captain Alex Pickands handled the military prosecution for the others (still in the military) in August 2006. He noted of Green and his fellow co-conspirators, "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."
Some would enter guilty pleas, some would be convicted. One would weep in court -- the weeping rapist -- as he confessed to . . . well something, not really his fault, you understand. Green tried to pull that same nonsense during his sentencing Friday.
April 27, 2009, his trial finally began. His attorneys would ignore his guilt and try to paint it as though Green's actions were, if not normal, understandable. May they find their own circle of hell and reside there forever. The judge had barred them from the argument they wanted to attempt, that, unless you were in Iraq, you couldn't judge Steven D. Green. What a load of bulls**t.
In the Article 32 hearing for the ones in the military, Capt Pickands made it very clear, "Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl."
The jury didn't buy it and, May 7, 2009, they convicted Green. Evan Bright reported, "Steven Dale Green found guilty of and convcited on -- ALL -- sixteen (16) counts; including eight (8) which could bring a death sentence."May 21st, the federal jury deadlocked on the death sentence issue and instead sentenced him to life in prison for his War Crimes.
Friday, BBC reported, "Judge Thomas Russell confirmed Green would serve five consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole." Deborah Yetter (Courier-Journal) explained, "Friday's federal court hearing was devoted mostly to discussion of technical issues related to Green's sentencing report, although it did not change Green's sentence. He was convicted in May of raping and murdering Abeer al-Janabi, 14, and murdering her parents, Kassem and Fakhriya, and her sister, Hadeel, 6, at their home outside Baghdad."
Friday, Steven D. Green snarled that his War Crimes, whatever they were, whatever you wanted to call them, happened because he was in the military and he was just a victim. It was a far cry from the performance he gave May 28th when he was attempting to get leniacy from the judge. Back then, he insisted, "Most of all I am sorry for the deceased, but aside from them, I am the most sorry for the boys whose family are gone. I know what we did left a hole in their lives, and scars on their minds, and that there is no making up for that. I only hope for them that they can somehow, and I don't know how, move forward, and have a good future despite the nightmare in their past that I helped create. They have my apologies and my prayers, as meaningless as they must seem." And in writing, he declared, "I am truly sorry for what I did in Iraq and I am sorry for the pain my actions, and the actions of my co-defendants, have caused you and your family. I imagine it is a pain that I cannot fully comprehend or appreciate. I helped to destroy a family and end the lives of four of my fellow human beings, and I wish that I could take it back, but I cannot. And, as inadequate as this apology is, it is all I can give you."
And it was all he could give, a performance. He demonstrated that on Friday when all concern for the family was gone and it was all about what a victim Poor Little Steven was. In real time, his May 28th performance did not fool many. Abeer's aunt Hajia al-Janabi never bought it. Andrew Wolfson (Courier-Journal) reported she denounced Green "as a coward, a criminal and a 'stigma on the United States'," attempted to approach him and was "restrained by a half-dozen court security officers." Wolfson notes that Mahdi al-Janabi then went back to the witness stand to express, "We do not accept your apology at all." WKLY has text and video:
Ann Bowdan: An outburst in federal court after relatives of an Iraqi family killed by a Kentucky-based soldier addressed the suspect for the first time. Steven Green was faced with the death penalty but will receive a life sentence instead. Hailee Lampert was in court today during this morning's and she's live downtown to tell us what happened.
Hailee Lampert: Ann, this was the most emotional, intense court hearing I have ever been to. At one point, the victim's grandmother got so upset she had to be restrained by multiple law enforcement agents who actually began escorting her out of the court room until she literally collapsed on the floor beside the bench where I was sitting. She was literally within arm's reach of me. And she was beside herself. She was that striken with grief.
[. . .]
Hailee Lampert: And at a certain point, the prosecutor pointed out Steven Green and one of the boys took a moment to look at him. His face remained stoic and cold and he was asked if he had anything to say to the suspect and the boy said "no." Then the man's sister took the stand and said, "I am not honored to look at Steven Green and I don't want to see his face." She said she doesn't understand why Green would would cross all those continents and oceans to come to Iraq and kill her family. She spoke directly to Steven Green, referring to him on multiple occassions as a coward and a criminal without mercy. Then the 14-year-old's grandmother took the stand echoing similar sentiments. Remember for her it was the first time being in the same room as the man convicted of killing her son and his family. Again the prosecutor pointed out Steven Green in the court room and after giving her testimony the elderly woman got up and began approching Green saying she just wanted to get a look at her. But as she began moving closer, law enforcement stepped in and physically held her back until she fell down crying on the ground beside the bench where I was sitting. Now at that point, the judge did allow her to stay in the court once she had calmed down a little but the uncle took the stand as well.
Hailee Lampert (WLKY -- text and video) filed another report where she quoted the aunt stating, "The wounds are eating my heart. But he has no conscience." The uncle was quoted stating, "The face of this innocent girl, that face will be chasing you in that dark cell you will be in until the last day of your life. Abir will follow you in your nightmares. On Judgment Day, you will see what your hand has done to us and to your nation."
Steven D. Green dropped the performance on Friday. He will serve a life sentence with no chance of parole. His attorneys plan to appeal and he, no doubt, plans to continue playing the victim.
Opinion Editorials The Jewish Holocaust And The New World Order
The Jewish Holocaust and the New World Order
Sunday, 06 September 2009 06:02 Editorial Bookmark it:
Jews are so vain. They think the Holocaust is all about them. Let me assure you it’s not. One thing we all should have realized by now is that in history and politics nothing is what it seems.
The 'Battle for the Holocaust’ - how the British Channel 4 documentary appropriately called it - is not about honoring the memory of the Jews perished during World War II. It is not about repeating the Jewish mantra of ‘Never Again’. And it is certainly not about reminding us of how evil governments can get if they get out of control.
Lies, lies and more lies.
An increasing number of people has become aware of the fact that our governments have been systematically lying. They know that the U.S. government was behind the terrorist attacks on 9/11. They know that the British government was behind the 7/7 attacks on the London Tube. They know that the Israeli Mossad and privately owned Israeli firms were actively involved. They know that during the 6-Day War Israel deliberately attacked the USS Liberty and killed dozens of sailors. They know that there is no legal base for collecting income tax in the U.S. They know that the CIA, the Bush and the Clinton family are prominently involved in the illegal drug trade in the U.S. and abroad.
They know that weapons of mass destruction had nothing to do with the Iraq invasion. They know that the hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and hundreds of thousands of guns that the U.S. military 'lost' in Iraq, didn't end up unintended in the hands of the various militant factions of the Iraqi civil war. They know that catching Osama Bin Laden was never the motivation behind conquering Afghanistan, but restoring opium production. They know that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor wasn’t an unprovoked aggression but a set-up designed to drag the U.S. into the war. They know that large parts of the ruling elite in the the U.K., Europe and the U.S. financed and worked intimately with the Nazis throughout the war. They know that Zionist organizations worked hand in hand with the Nazis on their common goal of ridding Europe of its Jews. In fact they know that almost everything we were told about WWII, or any other part of history for that matter - is untrue. But for some strange reason, when it comes to the Holocaust, so many of them choose to blindly believe the official story.
Whenever we are dealing with a complex social and political issue, the first question to ask is who benefits. We must ignore words and proclaimed intentions and look at the bare facts: Who benefits financially and politically?
The most obvious beneficiary of the official Holocaust narrative was the Zionist movement. The horrendous pictures of skeleton thin prisoners and piles of naked dead bodies didn’t leave anyone untouched. Together with the hear-say testimonies and coerced confessions of industrial scale gassing of millions of Jews, they removed any resistance against the Zionist demands for a Jewish state in the Holy Land.
The second most obvious beneficiary were the Allies. The magnitude of the accusations distracted world attention from Allied war crimes of an unprecedented scale. The burning of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the refugee crowded city of Dresden. The murder of one million German civilians in the Allied ‘strategic bombing’. The deliberate starvation to death of one million German P.O.W. by Eisenhower. The murder of 1.5 million German civilians by Russian troops. The rape of hundreds of thousands of German women. The ethnic cleansing of millions of Germans in Czechoslovakia and Eastern Europe. The destruction of 90% of German civilian infrastructure. The memory of all these crimes was actively suppressed by focusing on the narrative of the systematic murder of 6 million Jews and the industrial scale use of gas chambers.
The third most obvious beneficiary was communism. Our ruling elite is dominated by two schools of thoughts, fascism and communism. They both compete for the same political and financial goal: one world dictatorship. Accusing fascism of the Jewish Holocaust was severe public relations set back, giving the communist camp lead by David Rockefeller the upper hand.
The least obvious beneficiary is the ruling elite as a whole. Jews have always been their preferred tool in the pursuit of their evil plans, the reason being their not uncommon lack of conscience towards ‘Goyim’. The Holocaust narrative provided their Jewish shills with a protective shield. Not only were they less likely to be held responsible for their crimes. They could also rely on a network of fellow Jews more than happy to help them escape to Israel, where they wouldn’t be extradited. This explains the disproportionate incidence of Jews in organised crime, especially drugs and human trafficking. It also explains the high incidence of Jews in all positions of power in those countries that have progressed the most on the path to the New World Order, such as the United States and Canada.
The Jewish Holocaust in its modern form is not just a political weapon but a secular religion. Over years it has replaced Talmudism as the uniting creed of all Jews. It has high priests like Elie Wiesel, holy books like the ‘Diary of Anna Frank’, temples in the shape of museums, even an equivalent of the Holy Inquisition, the ADL and its countless sister organisations. It raises taxes from foreign firms and governments in form of compensations. It has religious holidays such as Auschwitz day. And last, but not least, it has dogmas, the unquestionable belief in a plan to kill all European Jews, the use of gas chambers and 6 million Jewish victims.
Uttering the slightest doubts in any of the Holocaust dogmas is a sacrilege punishable with the severest consequences. Loss of job and career, financial ruin, social isolation, even imprisonment are standard reprisals. What makes the Holocaust such a useful tool of oppression for our ruling elite, is that it trains us to accept that there are limits to freedom of expression and that there are ‘truths’ that must not be questioned.
Admittedly, there is much at stake for our ruling elite. If public opinion swang in favour of the Holocaust revisionists, if a large enough portion of the population believed that their ruling elite has been lying to them on such an epic scale, it would destroy whatever trust and legitimacy remains. It would also remove the fear of being labelled an anti-Semite when criticising Jewish crimes and supremacism, or the undue influence of Zionist Jews on Western societies, often pushing their countries to actions that are obviously not in their best interest.
Fighting the New World Order
Debunking the official narrative of the Holocaust robs the Jewish New World Order shills of their protective shield. Fighting for freedom of expression for Holocaust revisionists and establishing what really happened in the Nazi era is one of the most effective strategies for disempowering the ruling elite and derailing the New World Order.
JERUSALEM - Following the shocking discovery of anti-Semitic messages scrawled on the wall of a synagogue located in the Israeli city of Petah Tikva, a resurgence of neo-Nazi activity is being feared in the region.
On Saturday, worshipers saw words “Long live Hitler the saint” scribbled in Hebrew on the building’s walls, alongside a large black cross.
Inside, crosses were drawn on prayer brooks.
The worshipers waited for Shabbat to end before calling the police.
“We are sensitive to this incident because of the history of neo-Nazi activity here, and because a holy place has been desecrated. We are checking to see whether neo-Nazi activity has sprouted up again in this city,” The Jerusalem Post quoted a police source, as saying.
“This is not an easy investigation. There are a number of directions. I very much hope that arrests will be made in the coming days. We are determined to put a stop to this,” he added.
Last year, eight members of a neo-Nazi gang in Petah Tikva, comprising Russian immigrant youths, were arrested for assaults on drug addicts, foreign workers, and Orthodox Jews.
The gang’s leader was sentenced for seven years behind bars. (ANI)
August 30th, 2009 JERUSALEM - Israel has accused the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of "hiding critical information on Iran's nuclear progress" despite criticizing the country in its report for defying United Nations Security Council decisions. "This is a harsh report, but it does not reflect all the information possessed by the IAEA on Iranian efforts to advance its military program, on its continuing efforts to hide and deceive, and on [Iran's] noncooperation with the IAEA and the demands of the international community," The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, as saying.
August 28th, 2009 Egypt: Israeli freeze must include east JerusalemSTOCKHOLM — Egypt's foreign minister says east Jerusalem must be included in a freeze of Israeli settlement activity before Middle East peace talks can restart. Ahmed Aboul-Gheit told reporters in Stockholm on Friday that Jerusalem is Arab "and it will continue to be so." He said the Arab world expects the area to be included in a moratorium on Israeli settlements.
August 28th, 2009 BERLIN - Germany has handed over 29 yellowing blueprints of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The blueprints give chilling details, with gas chambers, crematoria, delousing facilities and watchtowers drawn to scale.
August 17th, 2009 Israeli soldiers shoot Egyptian policemanJERUSALEM — Israeli soldiers mistakenly shot and wounded an Egyptian policeman Monday along the border between the two countries, the Israeli military said. A routine patrol identified an armed figure at the border before dawn, and when the Israeli troops challenged the man he cocked his weapon, prompting the soldiers to open fire, the army said.
August 12th, 2009 BUDAPEST - Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom expressed outrage Tuesday over plans by neo-Nazi groups to hold a commemoration marking the death anniversary of Adolf Hitler's former deputy, Rudolf Hess. Solyom "learnt with indignation" of plans by foreign and Hungarian far-right and skinhead groups to convene in Budapest Saturday to mark the anniversary of the death of a "Nazi leader who was sentenced for war crimes", he said in a statement to state news agency MTI.
August 10th, 2009 Israel says Lebanon accountable for HezbollahJERUSALEM —Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday that his country would hold the Lebanese government responsible for any attacks on Israeli targets by the country's Hezbollah militia. It was the latest shot in a war of words that has been escalating since a July 14 explosion at a suspected Hezbollah arms depot near the Israeli border.
August 10th, 2009 Israel says Lebanon govt accountable for HezbollahJERUSALEM —Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his country will hold the Lebanese government responsible for any attacks on Israeli targets by the country's Hezbollah militia. It's the latest shot in a war of words which has been escalating since a July 14 explosion at a suspected Hezbollah arms depot near the Israeli border.
July 30th, 2009 JERUSALEM - Following a declaration by a British government spokesperson that the UK is funding political activities in Israel, the Jewish country has demanded an answer from Britain. Last week, British spokesman Martin Day had told a TV channel that the British government was "taking practical steps towards freezing settlement activities." "For instance, we finance projects aimed at halting settlement activities.
War crimes warning
About 75 South Africans serving in the Israeli Defence Force could face war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) if South African ...
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Tutu to Haaretz: Arabs paying the price of the Holocaust.
Desmond Tutu is a great and admirable man without doubt. His sympathy for the Palestinians and his efforts to help solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are commendable. It is therefore a shame that he decided to do this by promulgating a falsehood. One that causes more harm than good to the cause of peace.
The Arabs did not pay a price for the Holocaust.
Certainly, we could speculate that if it were not for the Holocaust, fewer nations would have said yes to the 1947 partition plan -- a plan which was never actually implemented -- nor did any of these countries do anything to implement. However, we could also argue that since there was already a sizable Jewish minority in Palestine, the idea of partition was hardly far fetched. We could also speculate that perhaps less European Jews would have emigrated to Israel/Palestine if it were not for the Holocaust. However we could also argue that there would have been six million more Jews who could have emigrated. We could likewise speculate that some countries would not have recognized Israel after the 1948 war if it were not for the Holocaust. But then again, many countries and regimes are recognized by world governments all the time.
In any case, it would be mostly speculation anyway. The Holocaust did happen, and this was the only extent to which the Palestinians 'paid the price' for it. Everything else that happened to the Palestinians did not happen because of the Holocaust
The Palestinians did not reject the partition plan because of the Holocaust.
They did not attack the Jewish community in Israel/Palestine because of theHolocaust, nor did they lose the war and become refugees because of it.
The Palestinians did not 'pay the price' of the Holocaust when they were placed in refugee camps by Arab governments, nor was their occupation first by Jordan and Egypt and then by Israel the price of the Holocaust. The bill for that should go to the Arab governments who dealt with the refugees and who sought to make war against Israel in 1967.
Similarly the deaths of Palestinians in Jordan in Black September and in Lebanon in the 70s and 80s had nothing at all to do with the Holocaust and everything to do with the actions of the PLO in those countries.
Neither was it the Holocaust that caused Palestinians to use plane hijacking. The Holocaust did not start the first or second Intifada or initiate suicide bombings or fire Qassam rockets from Gaza against civilians. None of these things nor their effect on the Palestinians were in any way 'payment' for theHolocaust. Nor were the Oslo Accords, the Camp David Summit, the withdrawal from Gaza and the relative quiet enjoyed now by Palestinians in the West Bank,
All of these things were the result of actions taken by the Palestinians, by the Arab countries and by Israel. I do not absolve Israel from responsibility for its sins and mistakes anymore than I absolve the Palestinians for theirs. It is time for all sides take responsibility for their actions and for the effort to find a realistic solution to this conflict rather than use the Holocaust as an excuse for their problems.
Desmond Tutu is a great and admirable man, but he would do well not to promote this falsehood about the Holocaust. Rather than contribute to ending the conflict, it keeps it alive by allowing the Palestinians to view themselves as the passive victims of events that had nothing to do with them. Instead they simply expect that Barack Obama or Desmond Tutu will somehow 'repay' them the 'price' of the Holocaust and force Israel to accept their terms for ending this conflict, namely the elimination of Israel. Desmond Tutu would do better if he left the Holocaust alone and called on both sides to take responsible actions to bring peace to both nations.
Combat Outpost Zormat, Eastern Afghanistan -- Just about the time the laughter here was dying down, U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Jack Reed were touching down in Kabul for a whirlwind, suit-and-tie "fact-finding'' tour of the war zone. That was hundreds of miles from this remote U.S. Army base, home to a small, well-armed contingent of soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment COP Zormat that was under the onslaught of a slashing evening rainstorm. Turret gunners on the gun trucks returning from patrol were soaked and shivering. The rain beat against the plywood walls of the "permanent'' buildings here while tent roofs sagged and dripped and soldiers wearing headlamps (the COP is blacked out at night) splashed through mud. Cardboard cartons of supplies slowly collapsed in puddles.
Inside, I had set off the guffawing and hooting myself. I hadn't meant to: I just asked the specialists and sergeants in the Tactical Operations Center whether anyone from Congress had ever dropped in to see how things were going. Normally the TOC is a serious and tense place where combat patrols and attacks are monitored. Mention of a congressional visit caused an outbreak of raucous levity, of which "Yeah, right!'' is a printable version.
I don't mean to pick on Carl Levin and Jack Reed, Democrats from Michigan and Rhode Island, respectively. I believe John McCain came through Kabul for a few hours; at least that's what I heard from the air crews who flew him. For all I know – and news is sparse out here – other members of Congress have whizzed through Afghanistan recently, as well.
It's too bad none of them made time for a few days with these Cavalry guys, or with soldiers and Marines in any of dozens and dozens of similar places where the war is really being waged. Instead, according to what I read in Stars and Stripes, the daily GI newspaper that comes sporadically and a week late, Levin and Reed had an audience with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, sat through the usual run of high-level military briefings and even met with some senior Afghan elders in Helmand Province (let's guess how much brutal ground truth came out of that ceremony). Then they rushed away and held a press conference to announce what sounded like a pre-cooked finding: Afghanistan doesn't need more U.S. troops; it needs more Afghan troops.
That's the damned trouble with whirlwind visits and high-level briefings, of which I have suffered my share. War is reduced to simplicities and slogans. The military loves PowerPoint presentations – they're easy for generals and politicians to understand -- but they make war into an orderly series of colored arrows that always point toward progress. Add some bright, ornate graphics and a chart or two and pretty soon you've absorbed the illusion that you can sit in Washington and affect the outcome by adjusting an arrow here and tweaking a graph there. Eager briefers, colonels and brigadier generals do nothing to dampen that idea.
And because PowerPoint doesn't talk back, you come away with your previously held positions unchanged. Add more U.S. troops, or add more Afghan troops. We're winning the war, or we're losing the war, so we should pull out or try something else. Pick one or the other and let's move on to health care and Obama's school speech.
Had the senators instead spent their two days at COP Zormat, they would have come away with a visceral sense of what is really going on in this country.
They would have seen the straight, bright line that runs from the 9/11 terror attacks that were planned here, straight to COP Zormat, right on the front lines of Preventing it From Happening Again. They'd have seen Afghan and American Army officers putting their heads together trying to figure out where best to position their forces to interdict the stream of insurgents coming in from Pakistan, and how to apportion their fuel so their generators are working and their radios get recharged. They are working out joint maneuver tactics, sharing intelligence, and working out how many Afghan enlisted guys to take off daily operations for some in-depth training with their American sergeant counterparts. In other words, they're fighting a war.
Behind that effort to provide security in this region, the visiting senators would have seen other soldiers and American civilians helping to fortify the foundations of a society that Afghans will soon have to defend on their own, one with a decent local government, access to education and health care, and a vibrant economy. It's an uphill battle, all right, but the Afghans and Americans engaged in the effort are energetic and brimming with optimism.
Our imaginary visitors would understand, from talking to cops and storekeepers, local radio DJs and truck drivers and soldiers and the kids thronging the dusty streets, that there is a long way to go. But they would have felt, from watching American sergeants and Afghan police hugging each other in fond greetings, that good people are committed here to making it work.
I'm afraid very little of that reached the senators' ears and eyes. Had they all spent a few days here at COP Zormat, their views on the war and its conduct might have remained unchanged. But their sense of what's happening on the ground would have deepened.
All this raises an interesting question. High-level briefings and meetings can be (and usually are) held via secure video teleconference without leaving Washington. That being the case, do the senators have the Air Force fly them all the way over here just for the souvenir photos and dinner-party cachet?
Americans want, and need, to move on from the debate over torture in Iraq and Afghanistan and close this tragic chapter in our nation’s history. Prosecuting those responsible could tear apart a country at war. Instead, the best way to confront the crimes of the past is for the man who authorized them to take full responsibility. An open letter to President George W. Bush.
WE HAVE NEVER MET, and so I hope you will forgive the personal nature of this letter. I guess I should start by saying I supported your presidential campaign in 2000, as I did your father’s in 1988, and lauded your first efforts to wage war against jihadist terrorism in the wake of 9/11. Some of my praise of your leadership at the time actually makes me blush in retrospect, but your September 20, 2001, address to Congressreally was one of the finest in modern times; your immediate grasp of the import of 9/11—a declaration of war—was correct; and your core judgment—that religious fanaticism allied with weapons of mass destruction represents a unique and new threat to the West—was and is dead-on. I remain proud of my support for you in all this. No one should forget the pure evil of September 11; no one should doubt the continued determination of an enemy prepared to slaughter thousands in cold blood in pursuit of heaven on Earth.
Of course, like most advocates of the Iraq War, I grew dismayed at what I saw as the mistakes that followed: the failure to capture Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora; the intelligence fiasco of Saddam’s nonexistent stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction; the failure to prepare for an insurgency in Iraq; the reckless disbandment of the Iraqi army; the painful slowness in adapting to drastically worsening conditions there in 2004–06; the negligence toward Afghanistan.
These were all serious errors; but they were of a kind often made in the chaos of war. And even your toughest critics concede that, eventually, you adjusted tactics and strategy. You took your time, but you evaded catastrophe in temporarily stabilizing Iraq. I also agree with the guiding principle of the war you proclaimed from the start: that expanding democracy and human rights is indispensable in the long-term fight against jihadism. And I believe, as you do, that a foreign policy that does not understand the universal yearning for individual freedom and dignity is not a recognizably American foreign policy.
Yet it is precisely because of that belief that I lost faith in your war. In long wars of ideas, moral integrity is essential to winning, and framing the moral contrast between the West and its enemies as starkly as possible is indispensable to victory, as it was in the Second World War and the Cold War. But because of the way you chose to treat prisoners in American custody in wartime—a policy that degraded human beings with techniques typically deployed by brutal dictatorships—we lost this moral distinction early, and we have yet to regain it. That truth hangs over your legacy as a stain that has yet to be removed. As more facts emerge, the stain could darken further. You would like us to move on. So would the current president. But we cannot unless we find a way to address that stain, to confront and remove it.
I have come to accept that it would be too damaging and polarizing to the American polity to launch legal prosecutions against you, and deeply unfair to solely prosecute those acting on your orders or in your name. President Obama’s decision thus far to avoid such prosecutions is a pragmatic and bipartisan one in a time of war, as is your principled refusal to criticize him publicly in his first months. But moving on without actually confronting or addressing the very grave evidence of systematic abuse and torture under your administration poses profound future dangers.
It gives the impression that nothing immoral or illegal took place. Indeed, since leaving office, your own vice president has even bragged of these interrogation techniques; and many in your own party threaten to reinstate such policies in the future. Their extreme rhetoric seems likely to shape—to contaminate—history’s view of your presidency, indeed of the Bush name, and the world’s view of America. But my biggest fear is this: in the event of a future attack on the United States, another president will feel tempted, or even politically compelled, to resort to the same brutalizing policy, with the same polarizing, demoralizing, war-crippling results. I am writing you now because it is within your power—and only within your power—to prevent that from happening.
Don’t misunderstand me. The war was compromised, not by occasional war crimes, or bad snap decisions by soldiers acting under extreme stress, or the usual, ghastly stuff that war is made of. All conflicts generate atrocities. Very few have been without sporadic abuse of prisoners or battlefield errors. As long as these lapses are investigated and punished, the integrity of a just war can be sustained.
But this war is different. It began with a memo from your office stating that—for the first time—American service members and CIA officers need not adhere to the laws of warfare that have governed Western and American war-making since before this country’s founding. The memo declared that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to captured terror suspects but that all prisoners would be treated humanely unless “military necessity” required otherwise. This gaping “military necessity” loophole—formally opposed in a memo by the member of your Cabinet with the most military experience, Secretary of State Colin Powell—was the beginning of America’s descent into the ranks of countries that systematically torture prisoners. You insisted that prisoners be treated humanely whenever possible, but wars with legal loopholes for abuse and torture always quickly degenerate.
In its full consequences, that memo, even if issued in good faith, has done more damage to the reputation of the United States than anything since Vietnam. The tolerance of torture and abuse has recruited more terrorists than any al-Qaeda video, and has devastated morale and support at home. Your successor remains profoundly constrained even now by this legacy—compelled to prevent the release of more photographic evidence of war crimes under your command because of the damage it could still do to American soldiers in the field.
No, terror suspects did not deserve full prisoner-of-war status. That argument was always a red herring. Full POW rights—regular meals, exercise, and the rest—were not applicable to stateless terror suspects who themselves had no uniform or adherence to Geneva. You were right to see that as inappropriate, if not offensive. But what these suspects did deserve—simply because they are human beings—was protection from inhuman, degrading, abusive treatment or the infliction of “severe mental or physical pain or suffering” in order to procure information.
This is what Geneva’s Article 3 says: whatever the nature of the combatant, in or out of uniform, and whatever his own moral rules (or lack of them), he deserves basic respect as a human being with human rights. This principle is nonnegotiable. It is the core principle of Western civilization. Resistance to the physical force of government, especially as that force is applied to people in custody, is the core reason America exists as an independent nation.
I believe that if you review the facts of your two terms of office, you will be forced to realize that, whatever your intentions, you undermined this fundamental American principle. You may not have intended that to occur. But you were the commander in chief and president, and these were presidential-level decisions. The responsibility for all of this is yours—before the American people and before the court of history. And you need finally to own these decisions, to take full responsibility for them, to account for them, to explain them, and, yes, to apologize for their scope and brutality.
This was never about “bad apples.” It is no longer even faintly plausible to argue that the mounds of identical documented abuses across every theater of combat in the war as it was conducted after January 2002 were a function of a handful of reservists improvising sadism on one night shift in one prison. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the Senate Armed Services Committee, dozens of reputable well-sourced news stories and well-documented books, and the many official reports on the subject have revealed a systematic pattern of prisoner mistreatment in every theater of combat, by almost all branches of the armed services, and in every major detention facility in Iraq where interrogation took place. (Revealingly, there were very few abuses in what the Red Cross calls “regular internment facilities” in Iraq—meaning those where interrogation was not taking place.)
The Senate’s own unanimous bipartisan report, signed by your party’s 2008 nominee, John McCain, proves exhaustively that the abuse and torture documented in U.S. prisons were the results of policies you chose. The International Red Cross found your administration guilty of treating prisoners in a manner that constituted torture, a war crime. Experts in the history of torture, such as the Reed College professor Darius Rejali, make very careful distinctions between the disparate acts of torture or abuse that take place in all wars and a bureaucratized top-down policy, whereby identical techniques are replicated across the globe in different services and under different commands, with some on-the-ground improvisation as well. The history of prisoner mistreatment under your command fits the second pattern, not the first.
The techniques these various sources describe are not comic-book sadism; they are not the gruesome medieval tortures of Saddam. In fact, they are coolly modern tortures, designed to leave no physical marks that could be proffered as evidence against the regimes that use them. They have been used by democracies that want to get what they believe are the fruits of torture while avoiding all physical evidence of it. As the slogan in Iraq’s Camp Nama put it, “No blood, no foul.”
But torture is not defined in law or morality by the production of blood or by any specific technique—that would simply invite governments to devise techniques other than those prohibited. Torture is defined by the imposition of “severe mental or physical pain or suffering” to the point when a human being can bear it no longer and tells his interrogators something—true or untrue—to stop what cannot be endured.
That’s torture, in plain English. It was the clear goal of the policy you set in motion—and implemented with great determination across the world in ships and secret sites, at Guantánamo Bay and Bagram in Afghanistan, throughout interrogation centers in Iraq.
At the same time, though, you expressed what seemed to me to be genuine public revulsion at the techniques you authorized. On June 26, 2003, the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, you stated:
I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment. I call on all nations to speak out against torture in all its forms and to make ending torture an essential part of their diplomacy.
You did not parse torture narrowly here. You were opposed to it in “all its forms.” You also called for barring “other cruel and unusual punishment.” When four U.S. soldiers werecaptured early in the Iraq conflict, you stated:
I expect them to be treated, the POWs, I expect to be treated humanely, just like we’re treating the prisoners that we have captured humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals.
In 2004, after the revelations of Abu Ghraib, you told al-Hurra, the U.S.-sponsored Arabic television station, “This is not America. America is a country of justice and law and freedom and treating people with respect.” You went on to say: “The people of Iraq must understand that I view those practices as abhorrent.”
Then how could you have authorized them? Maybe it was unclear to you at the time that most of the gruesome photographs from Abu Ghraib depicted techniques that you and your defense secretary authorized. This is an explanation in some ways, even if it is not an excuse. Photos can jar us into recognition of reality when words fail. Most of us hearing of “stress positions” or “long-time standing” or “harsh techniques” do not visualize what these actually are. They sound mild enough in the absence of further inquiry.
Those photographs did us all a terrible favor in that respect: they removed any claim of deniability as to what these techniques mean. And yet you responded to Abu Ghraib by extending the techniques revealed there and codifying them in law, in the Military Commissions Act, for use by the CIA. Your administration ordered up memos in your second term to perpetuate these abuses. It is hard to escape the conclusion that you were dissembling in your initial claim of abhorrence and shock; or were in denial; or were not in control of your own administration.
I don’t believe you were lying. I believe you were genuinely horrified. But that means you now need to confront the denial that allowed you somehow to ignore what you directly authorized and commanded: using dogs to terrorize prisoners; stripping detainees naked and hooding them; isolating people in windowless cells for weeks and even months on end; freezing prisoners to near-death and reviving them and repeating the hypothermia; contorting prisoners into stress positions that create unbearable pain in the muscles and joints; cramming prisoners into upright coffins in painful positions with minimal air; near-drowning, on a waterboard, of human beings—in one case 183 times—even after they have cooperated with interrogators.
Those Abu Ghraib prisoners standing on boxes, bent over with their cuffed hands tied behind them to prison bars? You authorized that. The prisoner being led around by Lynndie England on a leash, like a dog? You authorized that, too, and enforced it in at least one case, that of Mohammed al-Qahtani, in Guantánamo Bay.
In defending these policies since you left office, you have insisted that all of these techniques were legal. But one of the key lawyers who provided your legal defense, John Yoo, is on record as saying that your inherent executive power allowed you to order the legal crushing of an innocent child’s testicles if you believed that it could get intelligence out of his father. Yoo also favored a definition of torture that allowed literally anything to be done to a helpless prisoner short of causing death or the permanent loss of a major organ.
The Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture offer blanket legal bans on anything that even looks like torture. Yoo set up a mirror image: a blanket legal permission to do anything abusive to a prisoner, hedged only by the need not to kill him. If that is your defense of the legality of torture, it is a profoundly weak one.
But leave the question of legality aside. Skilled lawyers can argue anything. Examine the moral and ethical question. Could any moral person who saw the abuse of human beings at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Camp Cropper, Camp Nama, and uncounted black sites across the globe and at sea believe it was in compliance with America’s “respect” and “law and freedom”? As president, your job was not to delegate moral responsibility for these acts, but to take moral responsibility for them. You said a decade ago: “Once you put your hand on the Bible and swear in [to public office], you must set a high standard and be responsible for your own actions.”
The point of this letter, Mr. President, is to beg you to finally take responsibility for this stain on American honor and this burden on a war we must win. It is to plead with you to own what happened under your command, and to reject categorically the phony legalisms, criminal destruction of crucial evidence, and retrospective rationalizations used to pretend that none of this happened. It happened. You once said, “I’m worried about a culture that says … ‘If you’ve got a problem blame somebody else.’” I am asking you to stop blaming others for the consequences of decisions you made.
WHAT ARE YOU responsible for, exactly? Books have been written on this. But let’s take just three of the more bland-sounding techniques you authorized and extended and defended: “sleep deprivation” and “stress positions” and “temperature extremes.” As words and phrases, they can seem quite banal, and I can understand how you could have authorized techniques that sound like things most college sophomores or law clerks regularly endure. But in practice, they are brutal treatments designed to break the will and wash the brain of anyone subjected to them for a lengthy period.
Sleep deprivation was pioneered by the Inquisition; not only does it produce hallucinations, which were useful for proving heresy, but it also increases physical sensitivity. As Darius Rejali, the historian of torture, has noted, it “reduces a body’s tolerance for musculoskeletal pain, causing deep aches first in the lower part of the body, followed by similar pains in the upper body.” The combination of sleep deprivation and stress positions leads to unbearable mental and physical suffering. It was used by the Gestapo, by Franco’s security services, and even in the early part of the 20th century by American police. Use of sleep deprivation to procure confessions in domestic law enforcement was actually barred by the Supreme Court in 1944 (Ashcraft v. Tennessee) after a suspect was kept awake for 36 hours.
The Court compared his treatment to the “physical or mental torture” used by “certain foreign nations.” And yet you, Mr. President, more than a half-century later, authorized subjecting prisoners to this technique for up to 72 hours, or 40 hours if combined with standing in handcuff restraints. In 2002, troops in Afghanistan coined the term monstering to describe one interrogator’s war against a prisoner’s desperate need for sleep.
We know of one very detailed log of such treatment, which was one of the most common forms of “enhanced interrogation” in the first years of “the program.” Mohammed al-Qahtani was kept awake for 20 hours a day for 48 of 54 consecutive days in Guantánamo Bay. That’s not the 36 hours considered the equivalent of torture by the U.S. Supreme Court; that’s 960 hours when you add them all up. This deprivation is not easily achieved. To keep someone who is this tired from falling asleep requires constant physical intervention.
It means blasting loud music continuously in a cell; it means forcing an individual to stand up, and beating or poking him if he falls or tries to rest; it means constant light and sound; and it can lead quite quickly to medical problems and mental deterioration. During Qahtani’s interrogations, his refusal to drink and many days of sleep deprivation brought his heartbeat down to dangerously low levels; but even after he was urgently hospitalized for a day for dehydration to prevent his death, sleep deprivation continued—and was continuously used even as he physically deteriorated.
An early FBI review of the interrogation of Qahtani found that the cumulative treatment led him to exhibit “behavior consistent with extreme psychological trauma (talking to non-existent people, reportedly hearing voices, crouching in a corner of the cell covered with a sheet for hours on end).” If you believe “extreme psychological trauma” is the same as “severe mental suffering,” then you ordered the prolonged and brutal torture of Mohammed al-Qahtani.
That was indeed the conclusion of your appointee to determine the legal status of Guantánamo detainees, Susan Crawford, who simply stated in dismissing all charges against Qahtani: “His treatment met the legal definition of torture.” Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who was subjected to sleep deprivation in one of Stalin’s gulags, would have agreed with her assessment of the gravity of the primary torture technique. As Begin once wrote: “Anyone who has experienced this desire knows that not even hunger and thirst are comparable with it.”
The British used sleep deprivation against IRA terror suspects in the 1970s. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that although this use of sleep deprivation did not rise to torture, it nonetheless constituted illegal “inhuman and degrading treatment,” in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The reason it did not automatically qualify as torture depended on the longevity of the sleep deprivation.
But 48 days and nights with no more than four hours’ sleep every 24, combined with stress positions, hypothermia, and forced nudity, push these nuances over a line any decent person would acknowledge. Sleep deprivation alone has been shown to cause psychosis, disorientation, depression, and near-madness. The idea that these techniques, which were once used to procure false confessions of witchcraft or heresy, can actually generate actionable and accurate and detailed intelligence is, to say the least, implausible.
But Qahtani was not the only prisoner subjected to sleep deprivation; hundreds and perhaps thousands of others were too. Qahtani was a high-value prisoner; most others weren’t. Qahtani was under constant medical monitoring; most others were not. Here’s a firsthand account of a sleep-deprivation regimen used at the notorious Camp Nama in Iraq, a war zone where the Geneva Conventions were always supposed to apply. An Esquire reporter and a Human Rights Watch investigator debriefed a trained interrogator, who had gone to Nama specifically to participate in the program, and gave him the pseudonym “Jeff”:
They could keep a prisoner on his feet for 20 hours, and although the rules required them to allow each prisoner four hours of sleep every twenty-four hours, nowhere did it say those four hours had to be consecutive—so sometimes they’d wake the prisoners up every half hour. Eventually they’d just collapse. “This was a very demanding method for the interrogators as well, because it required a lot of staff to monitor the prisoner, and we’d have to stay awake, too,” Jeff says. “And it’s just impossible to interrogate someone when he’s in that state, collapsed on the ground. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Qahtani was also stripped naked. This technique, which you authorized, was used by Americans in every theater of war. The nudity, again, does not sound that awful on the face of it. Western men are used to showering together in gyms and schools. But in the cultural context of extremely devout and modest Muslim men, being forced to stand naked in front of each other and especially in front of women is dehumanizing and humiliating. And it was designed to be. Crafting techniques to exploit Muslim cultural attitudes or phobias was widespread (the use of dogs fit this role as well), and involved unethical use of psychologists and doctors.
Much of the sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib was not standard operating procedure. But using Muslim prisoners’ sexual phobias, taboos, and religious prohibitions against them was common. Whether smearing fake menstrual blood on a prisoner’s face, or having a woman like Lynndie England mock the exposed genitals of a terrified prisoner, sexual humiliations were not violations of the techniques you authorized. They were the techniques you authorized. And they depended for their effectiveness on the specific religious and cultural beliefs of Muslims. So to wage a war designed to expose the evil of the Taliban’s religious intolerance, we deliberately manipulated Islam into a means of abuse. In a war designed to prove that the West was not Islam’s enemy, we used Islam and Muslim culture as tools to break down the psyches of prisoners suspected of terrorism. To save religious freedom, we abused it.
The forced nudity also sharpened the edges of temperature extremes, another ancient form of torture that appeals to governments that want to torture but also to leave no physical scars, welts, or bruises. The Gestapo used what it called the “cold bath,” in which interrogators would take a prisoner’s body to a dangerously low temperature in an ice-filled tub, then remove and revive the suspect, and then subject him to freezing again. This was what happened to Qahtani at Guantánamo Bay—he was kept doused in water in a room air-conditioned to chill him until he was near-blue—but the technique crops up again and again across the theaters of war.
In 2005, you authorized the CIA to use the “cold cell” technique, in which a prisoner was kept in a cell at 50 degrees and constantly covered with cold water. This was not an emergency measure for gathering information that could be used to prevent an imminent mass-casualty attack. It was a formal policy, to be integrated into the American way of warfare and human rights.
Once you established the legitimacy of freezing prisoners, captors inevitably improvised. An Army interrogator, Tony Lagouranis, described the technique as it evolved in Iraq and Afghanistan:
We used hypothermia a lot. It was very cold up in Mosul at that time, so we—it was also raining a lot—so we would keep the prisoner outside, and they would have a polyester jumpsuit on and they would be wet and cold, and freezing. But we weren’t inducing hypothermia with ice water like the [Navy] SEALs were. But, you know, maybe the SEALs were doing it better than we were, because they were actually even controlling it with the [rectal] thermometer, but we weren’t doing that.
Lagouranis did not witness the Navy SEALs’ technique himself. But the maintenance of cold cells at Gitmo, and elsewhere, shows how high up the authorization went.
Some of the torture was covered up. Among the death certificates issued for prisoners who died while being held for interrogation at Abu Ghraib, one cited by Dr. Steven Miles claimed a 63-year-old prisoner had died of “cardiovascular disease and a buildup of fluid around his heart.” But Miles noted that the certificate failed to mention that the old man had been stripped naked, continually soaked in cold water, and kept outside in 40-degree cold for three days before cardiac arrest.
Here is a report, again from Camp Nama, where the ultimate commander was Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, now the U.S. commander of forces in Afghanistan:
[One prisoner] was stripped naked, put in the mud and sprayed with the hose, with very cold hoses, in February. At night it was very cold. They sprayed the cold hose and he was completely naked in the mud, you know, and everything. [Then] he was taken out of the mud and put next to an air conditioner. It was extremely cold, freezing, and he was put back in the mud and sprayed. This happened all night. Everybody knew about it. People walked in, the sergeant major and so forth, everybody knew what was going on, and I was just one of them, kind of walking back and forth seeing [that] this is how they do things.
Extreme cold was complemented with extreme heat. Here is firsthand testimony from an FBI officer who visited Guantánamo Bay in its early days, before the FBI washed its hands of what was happening there:
On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food, or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18–24 hours or more … On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.
“Stress positions” can also sound relatively banal. When your first defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, approved their use, including “long-time standing,” he wryly wrote on the memo: “However, I stand for 8–10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours?” The answer is that the prisoner is usually shackled to a bolt in the floor with his hands cuffed behind him. Any attempt to rest or sit down is prevented by beating or prodding. Other stress positions include being forced to stand on a box, with your hands cuffed and attached to a bar behind you; or being forced to kneel with cuffed hands behind your back; or forced to lean on a wall by your fingertips, with feet shackled to the ground, so that supporting your weight eventually becomes an unbearable strain.
The same applies to many of the positions we saw in the Abu Ghraib photos, where the body’s weight rests on one or two muscle groups that quickly become exhausted, creating great pain over long periods of time.
Darius Rejali notes that long-time standing, for example, causes “the ankles and feet to swell to twice their size within twenty-four hours. Moving becomes agonizing and large blisters develop. The heart rate increases, and some people faint. The kidneys eventually shut down.” The photographs at Abu Ghraib show a variety of the positions that you authorized, Mr. President—hooded humans forced to balance on boxes, with their arms outstretched or tied to bars behind their back.
The one recorded death at Abu Ghraib was caused by just such a stress position enhanced by beating. This kind of strain on the muscles and joints was what John McCain endured. He has never argued that it didn’t constitute a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Do you, Mr. President? In your endorsement speech for McCain broadcast at the 2008 Republican Convention, in St. Paul, you referred merely to the “beatings and isolation” he endured. You did not mean, did you, that if America treated prisoners the way the Vietnamese had treated McCain, you would regard it, as your vice president has stated he regards it, as “in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles”?
And if you did not believe the false confession McCain was forced to sign after enduring this mistreatment, why did you believe similar tales told by human beings under similar duress under your command—and tout them as evidence of success in the war?
I want to mention one other human being, an American, Jose Padilla. I do not doubt that Padilla had been a troubled youth and had disturbing and dangerous contacts with radical Islamists. You were right to detain him. But what was then done to him—after a charge (subsequently dropped) that he was intent on detonating a nuclear or “dirty” bomb in an American city—remains a matter of grave concern. This was a U.S. citizen, seized on American soil at O’Hare Airport and imprisoned for years without a day in court. He was sequestered in a brig and, his lawyers argued,
was tortured for nearly the entire three years and eight months of his unlawful detention. The torture took myriad forms, each designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and, ultimately, the loss of will to live. The base ingredient in Mr. Padilla’s torture was stark isolation for a substantial portion of his captivity.
Among the techniques allegedly used on American soil against this American citizen were isolation (sometimes for weeks on end) for a total of 1,307 days in a nine-by-seven-foot cell, sleep deprivation effected by lights and loud music and noise, and sensory deprivation. He was goggled and earmuffed to maintain a total lack of spatial orientation, even when being treated for a tooth problem. He lost track of days and nights and lived for years in a twilight zone of pain and fear. His lawyer Andrew Patel explained:
Mr. Padilla was often put in stress positions for hours at a time. He would be shackled and manacled, with a belly chain, for hours in his cell. Noxious fumes would be introduced to his room causing his eyes and nose to run. The temperature of his cell would be manipulated, making his cell extremely cold for long stretches of time. Mr. Padilla was denied even the smallest, and most personal shreds of human dignity by being deprived of showering for weeks at a time, yet having to endure forced grooming at the whim of his captors …
After four years in U.S. custody, Padilla was reduced to a physical and mental shell of a human being. Here is Patel’s description of how Padilla appeared in his pretrial meetings:
During questioning, he often exhibits facial tics, unusual eye movements and contortions of his body. The contortions are particularly poignant since he is usually manacled and bound by a belly chain when he has meetings with counsel.
Mr. President, if you heard of a citizen of Iran being treated this way by the Iranian government, what would you call it?
You argue that you authorized these dehumanizing and cruel policies because you were determined to protect the nation from another terror attack. This is a claim impossible for those of us without security clearances to judge. Many have questioned it. No one has argued that such policies prevented any catastrophic attack with weapons of mass destruction, the original justification for the extraordinary use of torture by a country dedicated to human rights and the rule of law.
And we have no way to determine whether any information gleaned by these sessions could have been procured through traditional and legal American interrogation methods. Nor do we know how many false trails from false confessions wasted time and resources. We do know that crucial evidence Colin Powell used at the UN to link Saddam and al-Qaeda came from a tortured suspect who later recanted.
We also know that hundreds of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay were released by your administration because they had no intelligence value and had been detained by mistake. We know that a study of 132 prisoners at Gitmo conducted by National Journal found that more than half were not even accused of terrorism against the United States, and only eight were accused of terror attacks outside Afghanistan. The majority of the prisoners had been captured outside the field of battle, mostly by Pakistani authorities in Pakistan. If this snapshot of those detained is in any way similar to the broader picture, the abuse and torture of so many people only distantly related to the war against America undoubtedly generated many more recruits and increased the danger to the West.
You have also claimed that defending the security of the United States was the paramount requirement of your oath of office. It wasn’t. The oath you took makes a critical distinction: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
It is the Constitution you were sworn to defend, not the country. To abandon the Constitution to save the country from jihadist terrorists was not your job. Yes, of course your role as commander in chief required you to take national security extremely seriously, but not at the expense of your core duty to protect the Constitution and to sincerely respect—not opportunistically exploit—the rule of law.
And the core value of the Constitution, and of your own rhetorical record, is freedom. Some civil liberties may need to be curtailed somewhat in a new kind of war; almost no one, apart from doctrinaire libertarians, would disagree. Most people are prepared to compromise, as long as checks and balances are in place to keep government accountable. But the deployment of torture and abuse of prisoners is not within this framework. It is not so much an infringement of freedom, as the obliteration of freedom.
Western freedom begins with the right to protect one’s own body from government power. That’s what habeas corpus means. What was done to Jose Padilla makes a mockery of that freedom and, in fact, establishes a precedent that, if left in place, could destroy it. Because the war you declared has no geographic boundaries and no time limit, the power of the executive to detain and torture without bringing charges—the power you introduced—is not just a war power. Because the war on terror is for all practical purposes permanent, the executive power to torture is a constitutional power that will become entrenched during peacetime.
When a human being is tortured, his body and mind are used as weapons to destroy his agency and will. The point of torture is to render a suspect helpless in the face of government power, to make him a vessel for whatever the government wants from him. It is the polar opposite of Western freedom—not a threat to freedom or an infringement of it, but its nemesis. If liberty is white, torture is black.
No society has remained free that has allowed its government to torture human beings.
And no previous American president has imported the tools of torture into the very heart of the American system of government as you did. Every dissident in every foul tyranny on Earth, imprisoned and tortured by men and women far less scrupulous than you, now knows something he or she never knew before your presidency: America tortures too. What this will do to the march of freedom you believe in is yet unknown. But my view is that by condoning torture, by allowing it to take place, and by your vice president’s continuing defense and championing of torture as compatible with American traditions, you have done enormous damage to America’s role as a beacon of freedom and to the rule of law.
Maybe you do not see the gravity of the precedent as I do. But I became a conservative a long time ago in part because of the torture record of the Soviet Union and what I saw as the failure of the left to confront it aggressively enough. I supported the Iraq War in part because I despise torture and felt that, whatever else happened, shutting down Saddam’s torture chambers could never be a bad thing.
But to have believed all this—sincerely, genuinely, deep in my heart and soul—and then to see America, the America I love and have made my home, actually become a country that secretly tortured and dehumanized and abused people has been a wrenching and transformative experience.
I hope you can at least understand my concern and anger. I believe that deep down, you do understand, or else I would not even attempt such an appeal to you. But that is also why a public accounting of what you did, what you understood you were doing, and what you now know and feel, is so important.
THE OTHER VALUE you have eloquently expressed as essential to your public life is faith. We share that faith, although I am a wayward Catholic and you a born-again evangelical. Our faith tells us that what you authorized is an absolute evil.
By absolute evil, I mean something that is never morally justified. I have no doubt that you believed you were doing your duty in protecting the country, and every political leader in a dangerous world has to make decisions that haunt the conscience.
But even war, with all its murder and mayhem and abuse and trauma, can still, in our Christian tradition, be deemed just, under certain circumstances. I am not a pacifist by any means. Defending free countries from the architects of 9/11 is just; bringing some semblance of democracy to Iraq was just; unseating the Taliban was just. Even those decisions that cost lives—of young Americans and countless Iraqis and Afghans—can be morally defended by Christians, in good faith and clear conscience, as a last resort.
In fact, fighting terrorism and jihadism is, in my view, an eminently just use of military power, if that use of power is constantly subjected to scrutiny and reflection and revision.
But torture has no defense whatsoever in Christian morality. There are no circumstances in which it can be justified, let alone integrated as a formal program within a democratic government. The Catholic catechism states, “Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions… is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.” Dignityis the critical word there.
Even evil men are human and redeemable. Our faith demands that, even in legitimate punishment or interrogation, the dignity of prisoners must be respected.
Our faith teaches that each of us—even Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—is made in the image of God. To violate that imago Dei by stripping and freezing him, by slamming him against a wall, or strapping him to a board to nearly drown him again and again and again, to bombard him with noise and light until he loses his mind, to reduce a human being to a mental and spiritual shell—nothing can justify this for a Christian. Nothing.
To wield that power is to wield evil. And such evil is almost always committed by those who believe they are pursuing good.
America is exceptional not because it banished evil, not because Americans are somehow more moral than anyone else, not because its founding somehow changed human nature—but because it recognized the indelibility of human nature and our permanent capacity for evil. It set up a rule of law to guard against such evil. It pitted branches of government against each other and enshrined a free press so that evil could be flushed out and countered even when perpetrated by good men.
The belief that when America tortures, the act is somehow not torture, or that when Americans torture, they are somehow immune from its moral and spiritual cancer, is not an American belief.
It is as great a distortion of American exceptionalism as jihadism is of Islam. To believe that because the American government is better than Saddam and the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Americans are somehow immune to the same temptations of power that all flesh is heir to, is itself a deep and dangerous temptation. The power to torture is a case in point. Because torture can coerce truth, break a human being’s dignity, treat him as an expendable means rather than as a fragile end, it has a terrible power to corrupt.
Torture is the ultimate expression of the absolute power of one individual over another; it destroys the souls of those who torture just as surely as it eviscerates the dignity of those who are its victims. And because torture is so awful, it also often requires a defensive embrace of it, a pride in it, an exaggeration of its successes. And those so-called successes invariably lead to more torture until we end up with the record of wanton and systematic abuse that occurred under your command.
I think you know this. You have rarely failed to describe absolute evil when you’ve seen it. You are not known for Clintonian parsings of moral truths. I think you understand also because you are a man of faith. And I think this faith should guide you to a reconciliation with the truth of the past, a reconciliation that this divided country needs, and that your successor and the men and women he commands deserve.
Over the past few years, I have gone from desperately trying to find out and expose this systematic abuse, to expressing enormous anger, to hoping for criminal prosecution of all the major figures. Now I feel profound discomfort with all the options in front of us. To ignore the flagrant evidence of war crimes, reported by the Red Cross, is itself a violation of America’s treaty obligations.
And yet to prosecute only those lower down the chain of command is pure scapegoating.
Your own former CIA officers and service members do not deserve to take the fall for the policies they were told were legal and authorized by their commander in chief. And yet to initiate prosecution of those ultimately responsible for this pattern of criminality and abuse—namely you, your vice president, your defense secretary, and all those involved in constructing the torture program—would also tear this already polarized society apart at a time when we are still at war.
There is a reason the Obama administration has remained almost paralyzed in the face of this inheritance. Every option is awful; and yet, some action is necessary.
Only you can do what’s needed. Only you can move this country forward by taking full responsibility for the past and supporting the current president in his abolition of torture and abuse and in his conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The decisions you made were complex; it may well be that you only subsequently grasped the full import of the actions you took in good faith; that you were misled about, or misunderstood, what “harsh interrogation” meant. All presidents are human, and taking responsibility does not mean self-flagellation.
The model is Ronald Reagan, who denied he had ever traded arms for hostages in Iran but eventually realized that that was indeed the consequence of the actions he took, the men he appointed, and the policy he pursued. Reagan’s speech to the nation on this matter was, in my view, his greatest, because it revealed humility and integrity. “First, let me say,” he told us in 1987,
I take full responsibility for my own actions and for those of my administration. As angry as I may be about activities undertaken without my knowledge, I am still accountable for those activities. As disappointed as I may be in some who served me, I’m still the one who must answer to the American people for this behavior … A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.
If you read the Red Cross report and the Senate Armed Services Committee report, I believe you will reach a similar conclusion about your own record on prisoner treatment. You may not have intended to torture people, but you did; you may have wanted to protect the country within the law, but that admirable desire too easily slid into your approval of actions that are indefensible, illegal, and deeply damaging to America’s reputation and honor. You were let down, as Reagan was. He took responsibility. You need to as well.
Demanding that you alone be held accountable and no one else be scapegoated would itself be an act of honor. It would draw a line between the past and the future in the same way that Lincoln’s defense of his brief suspensions of habeas corpus conceded Congress’s sole right to remove this core constitutional provision, but defended his action as a necessary emergency measure because a mass rebellion “had subverted the whole of the laws.” You do not deserve to go down in history as the president who brought torture into the American system and refused to take responsibility for it. It is also vital that torture not become a partisan issue, that any future terror attack not becomes an opportunity for your party to reinstitute it or wield it as a political weapon against future presidents who are following the rule of law. After the next attack, America will need unity—not a poisonous division over the issue of torture. You had that unity after 9/11. Your successors deserve the same support.
Demand, as Reagan did a full accounting and report from an independent body. Explain your evolving views. Defend your honor and your family’s long record of public service. Blame no one else. Explain why you felt you had no choice or why you did not fully understand the brutality of the methods you approved. The impact this would have on the world—the example of a democratic society confronting its own crimes, led by the man who authorized them—would itself help restore this country’s reputation. And yours. It would unite rather than divide.
In all this, think of the troops, the hundreds of thousands of honorable men and women, doing enormously difficult jobs in dangerous places, risking their lives to bring human rights to countries where they’ve never existed. They deserve to have this taint lifted from their uniform. And only you can lift it, by assuming responsibility for everything.I recall one such soldier, a young man in Iraq, Captain Ian Fishback, who witnessed routine abuse of prisoners and tried to get his commanders to stop it. They didn’t. He tried to get the attention of his superiors, up to the secretary of the Army. He failed. After 17 months of effort, he finally wrote a letter to John McCain. This is part of what he wrote:
Despite my efforts, I have been unable to get clear, consistent answers from my leadership about what constitutes lawful and humane treatment of detainees. I am certain that this confusion contributed to a wide range of abuses including death threats, beatings, broken bones, murder, exposure to elements, extreme forced physical exertion, hostage-taking, stripping, sleep deprivation and degrading treatment. I and troops under my command witnessed some of these abuses in both Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a tragedy. I can remember, as a cadet at West Point, resolving to ensure that my men would never commit a dishonorable act; that I would protect them from that type of burden. It absolutely breaks my heart that I have failed some of them in this regard. That is in the past and there is nothing we can do about it now. But, we can learn from our mistakes and ensure that this does not happen again.
Captain Fishback then focused on what he called “the larger question, the most important question that this generation will answer”:
Do we sacrifice our ideals in order to preserve security? Terrorism inspires fear and suppresses ideals like freedom and individual rights. Overcoming the fear posed by terrorist threats is a tremendous test of our courage. Will we confront danger and adversity in order to preserve our ideals, or will our courage and commitment to individual rights wither at the prospect of sacrifice? My response is simple. If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession. I would rather die fighting than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is “America.”
Mr. President, what I am asking is that you exhibit the same candor, reflection, and honor as one of your own service members, a man still serving his country in a uniform he is still proud of, but a uniform that bears a stain of dishonor that only you can remove.
Mr. President, remove that stain, for your own sake as well as ours. You have one last charge to keep.
Bush Admin Tried To Shield Those Running Secret CIA Prisons From ...
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Two necessary preconditions for a war crimes trial. (1) Lose the war. (2) The victor decides to hold a trial. Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 05:23 AM on 09/08/2009. - + jsgaetano I'm a Fan of jsgaetano I'm a fan of this user 115 ...
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U.S. Tried to Soften Treaty on Detainees
Bush White House Sought to Shield Those Running Secret CIA Prisons
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
From 2003 to 2006, the Bush administration quietly tried to relax the draft language of a treaty meant to bar and punish "enforced disappearances" so that those overseeing the CIA's secret prison system would not be criminally prosecuted under its provisions, according to former officials and hundreds of pages of documents recently declassified by the State Department.
From 2003 to 2006, the Bush administration quietly tried to relax the draft language of a treaty meant to bar and punish "enforced disappearances" so that those overseeing the CIA's secret prison system would not be criminally prosecuted under its provisions, according to former officials and hundreds of pages of documents recently declassified by the State Department.
The aim of the global treaty, long supported by the United States, was to end official kidnappings, detentions and killings like those that plagued Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s, and that allegedly still occur in Russia, China, Iran, Colombia, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. But the documents suggest that initial U.S. support for the negotiations collided head-on with the then-undisclosed goal of seizing suspected terrorists anywhere in the world for questioning by CIA interrogators or indefinite detention by the U.S. military at foreign sites.
Instead of embracing a far-reaching ban on arrests, detentions and abductions of people without disclosing their fate or whereabouts or ensuring "the protection of the law," the United States pressed in 2004 for a more limited prohibition on intentionally placing detainees outside legal protections for "a prolonged period of time." At the time, the CIA was secretly holding about a dozen prisoners.
Foreign governments criticized the U.S.-preferred wording, calling it vague and saying that proving intent would be hard and should not be necessary.
In the end, the Bush administration declined to endorse the treaty's broadly worded ban, which at least 81 countries have now signed, including all members of the European Union and many nations with checkered human rights records, such as Algeria, Argentina, Cuba and Guatemala.
A White House official said the Obama administration is reviewing the previous U.S. stance on the treaty as part of a wider look at international human rights accords that Washington has not signed. The official did not say when a decision might be made.
The administration has already reversed its predecessor's decision to shun the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is monitoring the treaty's implementation. But it has also said it will retain the ability to capture and transfer suspects to third countries, a practice known as rendition, while stressing that it will not do so if detainees are at risk of torture.
The documents detailing U.S. proposals to loosen some of the treaty's key language were released last week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request made by Amnesty International, but many passages were redacted, and the remaining portions make no direct reference to specific CIA or Defense Department objections.
A senior Bush administration policymaker confirmed in an interview last week, however, that the existence of the CIA prisons and the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the Defense Department has held hundreds of suspected terrorists without initially disclosing their names, was "a complicating factor" in U.S. deliberations on the treaty.
"Our negotiators were certainly aware that there was this program where people were being held, and were not in touch with people, and they had to be careful to ensure that there was room" for that program to continue, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the deliberations. He added that the treaty's proposed definition of "enforced disappearances" was only one of several problems Washington had with the draft.
"As with a number of previous human rights treaties, the language was just so broad that . . . we were not going to be able to sign," he said.
The treaty requires member countries to enact domestic criminal penalties for state-orchestrated disappearances and to compensate victims, but it has not taken legal effect because it has not been ratified by at least 20 nations, the minimum required. That leaves U.N. investigations of such cases in the hands of a five-member group chaired by a South African, which last year sent 1,203 new allegations of enforced disappearances to officials in the 28 countries said to be involved. A total of 42,393 alleged such disappearances in 79 countries remain unresolved by the group, according to its most recent annual report.
The U.N. group complained to the Bush administration last year about reports of the "enforced disappearance for a certain period of time" of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, a radical Egyptian cleric who was abducted by the CIA from a Milan street in 2003 and sent to Egypt, where he says he was tortured. When the State Department responded that U.S. policy bars such renditions if torture is anticipated, the U.N. group highlighted the gulf between the global treaty's view of "intentionality" and the Bush administration's view.
"Intentionality is essentially irrelevant," the group said in its response to Washington, "in the sense that any act of enforced disappearance has the consequence of placing the persons subjected thereto outside the protection of the law, regardless of the pursued purposes." U.S. negotiators had argued to the contrary in 2006 -- that proving intent is "an essential ingredient of the crime."
During the negotiations, China and a few other countries joined the United States in repeatedly attempting to slow the pace of the drafting, citing the complexity of the underlying issues. But a February 2004 State Department cable described the United States as "isolated" in urging that the text include language allowing those participating in enforced disappearances to be exempt from prosecution if they thought they were following lawful orders.
The documents also spell out how the Bush administration was "virtually alone" in objecting to a treaty provision stipulating that anyone "with a legitimate interest," such as a relative, be given an explanation and accounting of an individual's detention by the government as well as information on the person's whereabouts and health. U.S. negotiators called that provision unacceptable in a 2004 document, saying it "could impair national security, law enforcement, or privacy interests."
David Kaye, a State Department lawyer from 1999 to 2002 who directs the International Human Rights Program at UCLA Law School, said after reviewing the documents that "it's clear that the 'right to know' was at the heart of the effort to draft this new instrument." In that context, he said, "the failure to come up with a creative way to solve the American problem with this language plainly looks like the Bush administration objected to the purpose of the treaty itself -- and that our allies roundly rejected the U.S. position."
He added: "I think a lot of the 'problems' in the text could be resolved and that the United States should consider joining this treaty."
Allen Weiner, another former State Department lawyer who is co-director of the Program in International Law at Stanford Law School, similarly said that many of the apparent U.S. concerns were "solvable" or could have been addressed in legal "reservations," whereby the U.S. government spelled out its plans to implement the treaty's language.
The senior Bush administration official noted, however, that Washington's ability to gain concessions from others was undermined by public revelation of the CIA prisons in 2005. "I doubt that other countries would have been pushing quite so hard on this particular convention at this time were they not trying to cause problems for the administration," he said.
The context, he said, enabled "both the Europeans and the Latins" to "join forces" in arguing against the U.S. proposals.
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.