Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The U.S. and torture

I think one thing we can agree on as an American Principle is to abhor the use of torture. Yet, here we are having fairly clear evidence that American Military and Intelligence people are torturing, or at least outsourcing the torture to places like Egypt and Uzbekistan.

Cheney offended by Amnesty criticism Rights group accuses U.S. of violations at Guantanamo Bay (Tuesday, May 31, 2005 Posted: 5:13 AM EDT (0913 GMT) CNN.COM)

ice President Dick Cheney said Monday he was offended by Amnesty International's condemnation of the United States for what it called "serious human rights violations" at Guantanamo Bay.

"For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously," he said in an interview that aired Monday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."

Amnesty International was scathing last week in its criticism of the way the United States has run the detention center at its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Last week Amnesty International released their annual report, with a scathing section on U.S. actions.

Stripping Rumsfeld and Bush of Impunity (By Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive. Posted May 31, 2005.)

Rothschild's article offers an alternative view to Cheney's defense. Namely, to quote a series of statements by Military leaders such as General Sanchez, and to show that they were in fact lying, perjuring is the $20 word, to congress.

When Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last year, he was asked whether he "ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise, and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison."

Sanchez, who was head of the Pentagon's Combined Joint Task Force-7 in Iraq, swore the answer was no. Under oath, he told the Senators he "never approved any of those measures to be used."

But a document the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) obtained from the Pentagon flat out contradicts Sanchez's testimony. It's a memorandum entitled "CJTF-7 Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy," dated September 14, 2003. In it, Sanchez approved several methods designed for "significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee." These included "sleep management"; "yelling, loud music, and light control: used to create fear, disorient detainee, and prolong capture shock"; and "presence of military working dogs: exploits Arab fear of dogs."

... The New York Times article backs up Ratner's claim. It says "a still-classified directive signed by President Bush within days of the September 11 attacks" gave the CIA broad authority to transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogations. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International estimate that the United States has transferred between 100 and 150 detainees to countries notorious for torture.

... But going after Sanchez or Gonzales for perjury is the least of it. Sanchez may be personally culpable for war crimes and torture, according to Human Rights Watch. And Gonzales himself was one of the legal architects of the torture policies. As such, he may have been involved in "a conspiracy to immunize U.S. agents from criminal liability for torture and war crimes under U.S. law," according to Amnesty International's recent report: "Guantánamo and Beyond: The Continuing Pursuit of Unchecked Executive Power."

And then there is the concept of outsourcing torture. Perhaps by a strict narrow definition U.S. military are not directly doing this, but they are transferring some prisoners to countries which are known to commit torture.

See my earlier writing: "extraordinary rendition" - Outsourced torture?