Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rumsfeld is warned: “A torturer is an enemy of all humankind”

Former US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld now faces criminal charges in France for ordering the torture of prisoners in Iraq and at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Charges aganst Rumsfeld were filed with a French court while Rumsfeld was in Paris for talks sponsored by Foreign Policy magazine.

The charges, supported by some of the world’s most prominent human rights law groups, formally charge Rumsfeld with "....authorizing and ordering torture".
Those responsible have rarely been called to account. Nonetheless, the need to prosecute those responsible for atrocities has been recognised ever since the International Military Tribunals of Nuremberg and Tokyo. The impunity of responsible persons abets new crimes. The recourse to legal instruments is becoming ever more important in order to effectively uphold human rights.

--European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)

ECCHR is joined by the French League for Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and other groups throughout Europe.

Can similar charges against Bush be far behind?
“Rumsfeld must understand that he has no place to hide,” Ratner [ECCHR] added in a statement after filing the complaint. “A torturer is an enemy of all humankind.”

The charges against Rumsfeld were brought under the 1984 Convention against Torture, ratified by both the United States and France, which has been used in France in previous torture cases.

The criminal complaint states that because of the failure of authorities in the United States and Iraq to launch any independent investigation, it is the legal obligation of states such as France to take up the case.

Ratner and his colleagues in France’s legal community contend that Rumsfeld and other top US officials are subject to criminal trial because there is sufficient evidence to prove that they had authorized the torture of prisoners held on suspicion of involvement in terrorist acts.

“France is under the obligation to investigate and prosecute Rumsfeld,” said FIDH president Souhayr Belhassen. “It has no choice but to open an investigation.”

--Rumsfeld Charged with Torture in French Court

It was Rumsfeld’s presence on French soil that gives French courts jurisdiction to prosecute him. Pssst! Don't tell Bush about this.

According to Raw Story Bush ordered 'torture' tactics himself, giving "marching orders" to Gen. Michael Dunlavey. The general claims that he then asked the Pentagon to approve the "harsher interrogation methods at Guantanamo"
More than 100,000 pages of newly released government documents demonstrate how US military interrogators "abused, tortured or killed" scores of prisoners rounded up since Sept. 11, 2001, including some who were not even suspected of having terrorist ties, according to a just-published book.

In Administration of Torture, two American Civil Liberties Union attorneys detail the findings of a years-long investigation and court battle with the administration that resulted in the release of massive amounts of data on prisoner treatment and the deaths of US-held prisoners.

"[T]he documents show unambiguously that the administration has adopted some of the methods of the most tyrannical regimes," write Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh. "Documents from Guantanamo describe prisoners shackled in excruciating 'stress positions,' held in freezing-cold cells, forcibly stripped, hooded, terrorized with military dogs, and deprived of human contact for months."

Most of the documents on which Administration of Torture is based were obtained as a result of ongoing legal fights over a Freedom of Information Act request filed in October 2003 by the ACLU and other human rights and anti-war groups, the ACLU said in a news release.

The documents show that prisoner abuse like that found at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was hardly the isolated incident that the Bush administration or US military claimed it was. By the time the prisoner abuse story broke in mid-2004 the Army knew of at least 62 other allegations of abuse at different prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, the authors report.

The ACLU also found that an Army investigator reported Rumsfeld was "personally involved" in overseeing the interrogation of a Guantanamo prisoner Mohammed al Qahtani. The prisoner was forced to parade naked in front of female interrogators wearing women's underwear on his head and was led around on a leash while being forced to perform dog tricks.

“It is imperative that senior officials who authorized, endorsed, or tolerated the abuse and torture of prisoners be held accountable," Jaffer and Singh write, "not only as a matter of elemental justice, but to ensure that the same crimes are not perpetrated again.” ...

--Raw Story, General claims Bush gave 'marching orders' on aggressive interrogation at Guantanamo

Amid these revelations comes news that the prosecution of Blackwater on murder charges has run into a snag. The US State Department had given the US sponsored terrorist organization, Blackwater, immunity from prosecution. Only persons planning to commit crimes are interested in obtaining prior immunity from prosecution. It saves them having to cover it all up afterward.
Both Hitler and Stalin came to realize that it was possible to eradicate the unpredictability of human affairs in "the true central institution of totalitarian organizational power": the concentration camp. What Arendt saw is that eradicating unpredictability requires altering the nature of human beings. In the camps the internees' deprivation of all rights, even of the ability to make a conscientious choice, does away with the dynamic conflict between the legality of particular positive laws and the idea of justice on which, in constitutional governments, an open and unpredictable future depends. On the one hand, in Arendt's concept of totalitarianism, human freedom is seen as inconsequential to "the undeniable automatism" of natural and historical processes, or at most as an impediment to their freedom. On the other, when "the iron band of terror" destroys human diversity, so totally dominating human beings that they cease to be individuals and become a mere mass of identical, interchangeable specimens "of the animal-species man," those processes are provided with "an incomparable instrument" of acceleration.

--[Hannah] Arendt's concept and description of totalitarianism

A "state" wishing to eradicate "unpredictability of human affairs" must make of its own apparatus an inhuman machine utterly lacking empathy. SS members become mere interchangeable parts in a killing machine. Master and slave alike cease to be entirely human. This is the state as machine. Such a state requires its Auschwitz, its Abu Ghraib, its Guantanamo.
In World War I enemy aliens were regularly interned "as a temporary emergency measure," (see "Memo: Research Project on Concentration Camps") but later, in the period between World Wars I and II, camps were set up in France for non-enemy aliens, in this case stateless and unwanted refugees from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Arendt also noted that in World War II internment camps for potential enemies of democratic states differed in one important respect from those of World War I. In the United States, for instance, not only citizens of Japan but "American citizens of Japanese origin" were interned, the former maintaining their rights of citizenship under the Geneva Conventions while the latter, uprooted on ethnic grounds alone, were deprived of theirs by executive order and without due process.

--Evil: The Crime against Humanity, Jerome Kohn, Director, Hannah Arendt Center, New School University

Nixon proclaimed: if the President does it, it's not illegal. Nazis were only following orders. Blackwater was only following orders. And the resolution adopted at Wannsee made the Holocaust legal. The opinions of Yoo and Alberto, they would have you believe, relieved Bush of US obligations to Geneva. Now, we learn that Blackwater had been given immunity from prosecution!!

There is no crime that cannot be made "legal" by a tyrant, a suck up, or a liar! But that proposition is just one of the seemingly endless series of absurdities and outrages with which the GOP has oppressed the people of the US. What had been merely the very worst administration in US history has become one of the world's most repugnant tyrannies. The opposition to Bush must now rally 'round an over arching objective: bringing Bush himself to justice in the US for capital crimes and to trial in a world court for war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against the peace .

Naming Names at Gitmo

[NYT] Well into the night of Sunday, Jan. 2, 2005, lt. Cmdr. Matthew Diaz sat alone at his desk in the headquarters of the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, consumed with a new project.

He often worked late. From the time Diaz enlisted in the Army as a 17-year-old high-school dropout, hard work had been his ticket. He had earned his college degree while serving as an artillery sergeant and then completed law school a semester early, driving a mail truck on the weekends. In 10 years as a Navy lawyer, his performance evaluations had been outstanding. As his six-month tour at Guantanamo neared its end, his stint as the deputy legal adviser there looked like more of the same. ...

An update:

Kucinich questions Bush's mental health

"Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich questioned President Bush's mental health in light of comments he made about a nuclear Iran precipitating World War III." The man who speaks the truth is the most sane. ...

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