11 July 2008

Guess What? It IS Torture! Even the Red Cross Thinks So.

Well, here is a stunning surprise. The New York Times today reports the publication (next week) of a new book by Jane Mayer, a writer at The New Yorker. In the book Mayer reveals the existence of a secret report, prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross, on the interrogation practices the U.S. has been using. The report is unequivocal ~ the interrogations are "categorically" torture, and those officials who have sanctioned them are liable to war crimes prosecution. The ICRC hardly is a radical outfit. Nor is it political, as witnessed by the way it assiduously tried to keep this report confidential. (Its spokesmen still decline to discuss the report with the press.)

Memo to ICRC: see how well private conversations and behind the scenes pressure work when the perpetrators are truly venal ideologues?

As I've noted here before, in its current incarnation (this is not the first) torture policy in the U.S. goes all the way to the top. Maybe now The Times and other outlets - to say nothing of the government - will stop with the euphemisms and double talk. It is, of course, too much to ask of the Democrats that they initiate legal proceedings against BushCo members past and present. who have occupied positions in the chain cruel and inhumane punishment. Maybe now the Democrats will get some spine and stop giving BushCo everything they ask for (Like the FISA amendments!). Unfortunately those things are all unlikely. We are going to have to wait until some foreign government or transnational entity initiates the war crimes tribunals. [Thanks Jörg!]

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Anonymous Dawei_in_Beijing said...

What about the leaders of China, Russia, Sudan, North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Vietnam, etc? If these leaders can walk around freely with no international tribunal calling for their head, I doubt anyone will one will be calling for Bushco. I mean, some of these leaders are just as bad if not worse. What do you think?

11 July, 2008 15:51  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

D ...

You are right, of course. There are lots of bad guys out there. Having said that:

(1) Those bad guys make no pretense of being the 'leader of the free world' or 'spreading democracy' of whatever. Call that the hypocrisy effect.

(2) Part of the problem with bad guys who violate hman rights within their own countries is that they are not subject to international law. They are doing so within their own sovereign territory. That does not excuse the behavior. But it does mean that they are more or less insulated from international prosecution. Recall that the Spanish were able to prosecute Pinochet for murdering Spanish nationals.

(3) There are lots of political types out there who would like nothing better than to hold the feet of American leaders to the fire just because they are American. Think of the domestic consumption value of doing that ....

(4) I think there aer Americans (in fact, I know there are) who find the policies implemented by BushCo reprehensible who would cooperate (or, depending on your view, connive) with parties elsewhere to initiate prosecutions.

Are war crimes tribunals a long shot? Sure. Are they impossible? Hardly. Would I personally like to see them. You bet!

11 July, 2008 16:38  
Anonymous Dawei_in_Beijing said...

To what degree are some of those states, to whom we outsourced some of our dirty work, liable? Isn't it the case that in Gitmo agents only did the "light" stuff, while the really perverse, brutal torture was done in undisclosed locations across the Arab world, and Eastern Europe, by non Americans? I'm not sure about this, but supposedly our agents handed over some suspects to these old-school, Soviet style "interrogation experts," for them to "squeeze out" the truth however they see fit. Is this accurate? I heard countries like Poland and Yemen being mentioned.

12 July, 2008 01:50  
Anonymous Dawei_in_Beijing said...

With regards to your second point, the president of Sudan is now being charged by the ICC with nothing less than genocide. So apparently these other guys CAN be held accountable for the atrocities they commit inside their own "sovereign" territory. Good for the ICC. I hope Mugabe is next.

14 July, 2008 16:05  

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