20 April, 2009

Prosecutions. Now.

This is what the Bush regime turned us in to:
Marcy Wheeler scrutinized some of the Bush administration's torture memos and discovered a striking statistic.

According to the May 30, 2005 Bradbury memo, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002. [...]

[T]two two-hour sessions a day, with six applications of the waterboard each = 12 applications in a day. Though to get up to the permitted 12 minutes of waterboarding in a day (with each use of the waterboard limited to 40 seconds), you'd need 18 applications in a day. Assuming you use the larger 18 applications in one 24-hour period, and do 18 applications on five days within a month, you've waterboarded 90 times -- still just half of what they did to KSM.


If waterboarding was an effective torture technique, why on earth did officials feel the need to administer it 183 times on one individual? What kind of sadist thinks, "We didn't get the information we wanted after torturing him 182 times, but maybe once more will do the trick"?

The kind of sadists who are now walking free after committing war crimes. They're giving speeches, teaching law students, and presiding over courtrooms. We used to prosecute and imprison other torturers. We used to be morally outraged over sadism like this. Now, our leaders seem to think it's not that big a deal.

It's time we got outraged. They need to understand that this isn't partisan or dwelling on the past. Crimes against humanity must be prosecuted. We have to face what we've done.

I was going to write a long, detailed post about this. Cujo got there first, and said all that needs to be said:

The New York Times published an editorial today on the Dept. Of Justice (DoJ) memos released last week by the Obama Administration. These memos were an attempt to put legal lipstick on the pig that was the Bush Administration's desire to torture detainees suspected of terrorism. The editorial starts out:

To read the four newly released memos on prisoner interrogation written by George W. Bush’s Justice Department is to take a journey into depravity.

Their language is the precise bureaucratese favored by dungeon masters throughout history. They detail how to fashion a collar for slamming a prisoner against a wall, exactly how many days he can be kept without sleep (11), and what, specifically, he should be told before being locked in a box with an insect — all to stop just short of having a jury decide that these acts violate the laws against torture and abusive treatment of prisoners.

The Torturers’ Manifesto


We're bound both by treaties we've signed and as a civilized nation to investigate these crimes. Doing any less will not only be a stain on our honor as a society, but will probably encourage more such crimes in the future. If we don't behave by these rules now, we can't expect that anyone else will do so later when they are holding our people.

What's worse, if we don't do our duty as a civilization, there are others who will do it for us. Should that happen, we will be forced to choose between extraditing former Bush Administration officials as Article 7 of the U.N. Convention Against Torture demands, or not living up to that treaty obligation, as well. History won't be kind if others are required to clean up the mess we've made, especially if we refuse to cooperate in that effort.

One thing you can do to demand that these crimes be investigated is sign this FireDogLake online petition that demands that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate these memos and decide if charges should be brought.

Take action. We must show our current leaders that the crimes of the past can't simply be buried and forgotten.


george.w said...

Kinda throws a different light on the "ticking bomb" scenario, doesn't it? Better hope they set that bomb for a really long delay.

Argon said...

I concur with the observation that these memos serve less as an objective evaluation of practices and more of a CYA, get-out-of-jail-free card. Note the emphasis on the notion that interrogators must operate with the intent of knowing they are causing extreme harm to be judged wrong. If they think their methods are otherwise benign, then the 'intent' disappears. A large portion of the memos seem written to ensure 'justifiable' denial. What claptrap. They also fail to list the cases tried in the US and other countries where waterboarding was included in torture convictions.