Thursday, June 19, 2008

Torture: A Look at Some of the Evidence that has Mounted against the Bush Administration

We have reached a point in time where everything seems so surreal. We continue to see evidence piled on top of evidence of the criminal actions that the Bush Administration has engaged in and continues to engage in. From the illegal invasion of Iraq, to extraordinary rendition, to Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, torture, illegal wiretaps, the political firings of attorneys, using propaganda on citizens, paying journalists to tout polices friendly to the administration, and on and on and on. It all blurs together into one giant lump of surreal madness and makes it hard to keep up and at times pay attention.

It is imperative for the public to keep focus and stay vigilant through all of this madness and start talking about prosecution of some of the highest ranking members of the Bush Administration. The Boston Globe broke a story this week of a report issued by Physicians for Human Rights. In this report, Physicians for Human Rights have found medical evidence of the torture of 11 detainees between the years of 2001 and 2004. This torture includes injuries that are consistent with psychological abuse, sensory deprivation, and physical and sexual abuse. In addition to these findings, it was also found that American health professionals were also present in some instances and denied health care to these prisoners. All of these men have been released and (like many detainees who have been in U.S. custody) were never charged with a crime.

Of the men interviewed and examined, one showed evidence of being stabbed in the cheek with a screwdriver, one showed rectal tearing consistent with being sodomized by a broomstick, and one showed irregularities in the contours of his tongue which is consistent with receiving electric shocks. The article in the globe states:

"Still, Physicians for Human Rights concluded that all of the interrogation techniques the 11 men allegedly endured - including officially sanctioned exposure to extreme temperatures and placement in “stress positions,” as well as unauthorized treatment such as sexual abuse - violated both domestic criminal law and international human rights treaties."

George Bush has repeatedly stated that the United States does not torture and that all interrogation techniques are "within the law":

This investigation flies in the face of what the President and his Administration claims. In fact, it led Army Major General Antonio Taguba, who oversaw this investigation, to state the following:

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

Earlier this week the Senate Armed Service Committee released documents on the origins of these so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques". These documents state that during a meeting at Guantanamo on Oct. 2, 2002 the counterterrorism lawyer for the CIA, Jonathan Fredman, said that torture "is basically subject to perception" and "if the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong." This Oct. 2, 2002 meeting was held after President Bush signed an order on Feb. 7, 2002, authorizing these "enhanced interrogation techniques". The order was based upon a legal memo from the White House council's office.

The Washington Times reports today that the former Chief of Staff for Colin Powell, Col. Lawerence B. Wilkerson, has testified that Vice President Cheney probably knew that torture was being used on prisoners.

Couple this "revelation" with the meetings that took place in the White House, that were chaired by (then) National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in the Spring of 2002. These meetings were attended by the following "Principals":

"At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft"

In these meetings, as reported by ABC News, high ranking members of the Bush Administration discussed specifics on what types of techniques would be used on detainees. This included combining different techniques that are usually used individually and included the use of stress positions, slapping, hitting, kicking, the use of sensory deprivation and waterboarding. John Ashcroft showed some signs of being disturbed during these meetings. He stated:

"Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."

Such concern did not deter Rice from proceeding with the implementation of such techniques when she stated to the CIA:

"This is your baby. Go do it."

While at first glance it may seem the President Bush was shielded from these meetings, but in fact he was involved at the highest level. Bush admitted in an interview with ABC-TV, that he knew that these meetings took place and signed off on the torture techniques. This was documented not only in the interview that Bush gave, but in an article that Helen Thomas published that can be found here. Not only has Bush denied that the United States engages in torture, but he justifies his actions by saying that they are "within the law" and legal. This is directly contrary to findings that he and his Administration have committed war crimes.

These points also shoot down the very argument that the actions at Abu Ghraib were that of a "few soldiers" or a few "bad apples". It is quite clear that these actions were discussed and implemented from the highest levels of government. Just this week however, President Bush reiterated the lie that these policies were the result of a few soldiers:

It is clear, from every piece of information that has been presented, that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other officials at the highest levels of government should be arrested and put on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The evidence is staggering and there must be a chance for all of this to be presented in a court of law.

It is also necessary for the President and Vice President to be impeached for these crimes. Dennis Kucinich has introduced articles of impeachment against the President and these must be addressed. There also needs to be an independent investigation into the tactics that have been authorized that break the law and violate human rights.

These violations of laws and ethics must be addressed and the perpetrators of these crimes must be brought to justice.

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