Saturday, April 18, 2009

Obama's tortured response to US government sanctioned torture

It is quite remarkable. The Attorney General of former US Pres Bush issued Memo after Memo explaining to the CIA and its operatives that certain kinds of torture of potentially (or really) militant Muslims is acceptable. Health care professionals pro-actively participated in torture based interrogations of such prisoners. All of this was in clear violation of international law on this matter.

Obama, yes, the 'bollocks we can believe in' guy who's now US President, has taken the brave step of publishing these Memos. Now the world knows in detail what kinds of torture US operatives deployed in order to extract useful information from prisoners. That's the good thing. The Memos in question reveal quite remarkable stuff, including sleep deprivation (several days), slamming prisoners' heads against concrete walls, the now notorious waterboarding, loud music, sensory deprivation, keeping prisoners for days in a row naked, and the list goes on. Health care professionals monitored the proceedings and the prisoners' health. The bad thing, much in line with Obama talking the talk but as yet not walking the walk, is that his administration has no intention of prosecuting those involved in torturing inmates, or those who authorised and / or ordered such activities.

To be clear, this will permit the following to get away with torture scotch-free:
a) those who already argue that they were following orders, and who claim that they received legal advice from the Bush administration's Attorney General suggestiong that the torture wasn't torture and so they could (disingeniously) claim to be not in breach of any international law; and
b) those who actually rendered the misleading legal advice; and
c) those who issued the rules authorising torture.

It seems to me that certainly the former Attorney General as well as other senior officials of the Bush administration ought to be held accountable for their actions. This view seems supported by international law. The USA is bound by the UN Convention against Torture, and so is obliged to prosecute anyone against whom clear evidence exists. It is unclear to me why Obama chose not to hold them accountable. One wonders whether he is already oncerned about the question of whether he and his government mates could be prosecuted for their potential future illegal activities... - Surely, if the illegal act of committing, ordering or authorising torture is insufficient to trigger prosecutions under the Obama administration, one wonders what would be worthy of its attention. It seems as if for reasons of cheap political expedience justice related considerations were sacrificed by the man you should not believe in.

Another sign of spinelessness - or a sign of more to come from Obama?

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