Monday, 18 May 2009

American torture

With no sense of shame, American politicians and the political pundits close to them, have sought to exculpate themselves from the torture of prisoners of war, suspected terrorists and "enemy combatants". The evidence is stark (thanks to the tireless work of the ACLU and others):

  • members of the administration actively sought ways to avoid the United State's obligations under international law, the Geneva Convention, etc. and George Bush's public and personal promise to prosecute torturers
  • in practice, those people torturing detainees and suspected terrorists went further than the criminal guidance they had already been given
  • Colin Powell and William Taft understood the necessity of keeping to the rules of the Geneva Convention, but were ignored - realising that once America abandoned those rules, they put their own people at risk
  • the FBI were against it and complained about it

Despite the fact that Japanese torturers were executed at the end of the Second World War for the very crimes that have been permitted and committed;

  • blowhards claim either "water-boarding isn't torture..." (which is clearly is - visit any European museum of torture and you can see the same devices that were being used hundreds of years ago)
  • or by revealing these memos the United States' enemies will know the limits of what the US will do (which should have already been clear from treaties signed, the Constitution and what the President has said to the world)

Why has Barack Obama said he won't prosecute the people who have violated so many laws? Because he is weak and unwilling? Or because he does not feel any public pressure to prosecute these people? The recent example of Somali pirate hostage-takers being killed ought to offer a counter-balance. With safety and security for detainees, POWs and prisoners and a strong stance against torture the US ought to be able to say to its enemies, those interfering with American citizens abroad, etc. "If you fight us, you will be killed. If you surrender, you will not be harmed."

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