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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Torture In America Is Nothing New - It's American As Apple Pie

AAPP says: H/T to Stephen Gillers and The Nation for great work reporting on The Torture Memos. TPM has a great article on the two scum bags who wrote the torture memos. It's interesting that the Bush Memos suggest abuse isn't Torture if a doctor is there. The NY Times is following this Torture issue. Also a big H/T to the folks at Black Agenda Report who are following this issue as well.

Palestinian Hanging

A victim of torture at Abu Ghraib prison. The prisoner is simultaneously being subjected to forced standing, Palestinian hanging, forced nudity, and sexual humiliation (as his face is hidden by a woman's underwear). More HERE

Should Black America be so surprised at the torture memos? Probably not. The fact of the matter is, America was founded on the torture, and genocide of millions of Native and Black Americans. America was founded on theft of Indian lands, deception, fraud, and torture of blacks ad native Americans. Why does this newly discovered round of tortures perpetuated by Americans come as such a surprise?

Are you surprised that the Agency for International Development (AID) worked with Southern Illinois University, for example, trained Vietnamese police and prison officials in the art of torture ("interrogations") under cover of "public safety." American officials believed they were teaching "better methods," often making suggestions during torture sessions conducted by Vietnamese police. More HERE

AAPP: "Water boarding is a torture method employed by the American government, in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. America should be held accountable. I'm disappointed that Barack Obama wants America to forgive and forget and not have former Bush administration staffers, and Bush be held accountable."

Amnesty International is right went they write:

"International law is clear. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment can never be justified. They are never legal. Even in a state of emergency which threatens the life of the nation, there can be no exemption from this obligation. International law is also clear about the state's duties when this prohibition is violated. States must ensure that independent and impartial investigations are carried out into allegations of torture or other ill-treatment and that anyone found responsible is brought to justice. Victims of violations must be provided with remedies that are not only available in law, but are accessible and effective in practice." Read More HERE

This African American Political Pundit agrees with
Keith Olbermann: "President Obama, You Are Wrong"

Stephen Gillers at
The Nation notes, The torture memos from 2002 were mainly the work of Jay Bybee, then head of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and now a federal appellate judge in San Francisco, and Bybee's deputy, John Yoo, who has since returned to teaching law at the University of California, Berkeley. This month the Pentagon released a long-rumored torture memo from 2003 written solely by Yoo, which is even more adamant in its embrace of unfettered presidential power.

The memos are an abysmal piece of work, but they had great value to the President. Dismissing the Geneva Conventions and other law, they used the veneer of serious legal scholarship (abundant footnotes, many citations, long dense paragraphs) to create an aura of legitimacy for near-death interrogation tactics and unrestrained executive power. The memos had high credibility because they came from the OLC, the legal brain trust for the executive branch and (until then) the gold standard for legal acumen.

The press tends to overlook the lawyers when scandal breaks, focusing instead on their clients. That's understandable, but in public and commercial life no serious move is possible (no corporate maneuver, no new financial instrument, no war, no severe interrogation tactic) without legal approval. Even if the advice proves wrong, the client, if sued or indicted, can claim reliance on counsel.

When lawyers in private practice mess up, they face serious jeopardy. They can be fired, sued for malpractice, disbarred or prosecuted. Yoo and Bybee face no such risks. The President won't protest. He got what he wanted. And while a state disciplinary body can investigate, that is unlikely without Justice Department help.

The Justice Department recognized the incompetence of the torture memorandums when Bybee's successor, Jack Goldsmith, retracted an August 2002 memo that had construed the Convention Against Torture and the federal statute forbidding torture to permit interrogation tactics just shy of homicide. And that memo was actually an improvement on the OLC's earlier work, which, in advising on "the effect of international treaties and federal laws on the treatment" of detainees from Afghanistan, entirely overlooked the torture convention and statute.

In his book The Terror Presidency, Goldsmith, now a Harvard law professor, writes that the torture memos had "no foundation" in any "source of law" and rested on "one-sided legal arguments." They were valuable to the Administration nonetheless, Goldsmith says, because the CIA saw one of them as a "golden shield" against criminal prosecution of agents who had used harsh interrogation techniques. More HERE

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