The Torture Report is Only The Beginning of Dealing War Crimes Done in Our Name


The extent to which the Senate Intelligence committee report was about obsessing with the past is limited to the fact that documenting crimes, including war crimes, means looking into the past.  It means looking at all the lies that were told .  Every Republican who said that torture led the CIA to the chauffeur who led us to Bin Laden lied.  Every time a war crimes apologist claimed torture saved lies, they lied.   We were treated to twisted interpretations of the U.S. Constitution, the Geneva Conventions and the very definition of torture.  In the name of these war crimes, its defenders hoped that we would forget that following World War 2 we prosecuted and executed people for the very acts, that had become part of our “enhanced interrogation program.”

Water-boarding, stress positions, “rectal hydration” and a host of other horrific acts the CIA utilized are torture.  Whether we call it what it is or give it a more sanitized name like “enhanced interrogation techniques” it remains torture.  Torture remains a crime under the Geneva Conventions, Nuremberg Law and the U.S. Criminal Code, along with other international treaties. We can’t escape the fact that even this scrubbed Executive Summary, says two irrefutable and disturbing things about who we are.  War crimes were committed in our name and the only person who was held accountable is the one person who tried to stop the atrocities.  John Kiriakou remains in prison while Bush and Cheney remain free to justify the unjustifiable. Cheney even had the gall to suggest  the atrocities committed in our name were “patriotic“.

Just to give this some perspective, we prosecuted (and in some cases executed) the Nazis for a host of war crimes, that also included torture.  We tried, convicted and in some cases executed  people following the Tokyo trials, for war crimes that also included torture.

The international community continues to prosecute people from the former Yugoslavia for their atrocities, primarily in Bosnia and Kosovo.  We called for the creation of the ICTY and the ICTR to prosecute people for the sort of atrocities that were done in our name. We were all for creating a permanent international criminal court – at least until the international community insisted that the rules apply to us as well.

The lies that torture saved lives or led us to Bin Laden circulate every time we edge toward a serious discussion on the torture that was done in our name.  Torture also provided its defenders in the Bush administration the cover they needed to justify the war in Iraq.  When faced with that reality, torture duped us into that war. Torture is responsible for every death in Iraq.  The Bush/Cheney Torture program is responsible for every American who fought in that war and was brought home in a body bag, or was injured physically, psychologically or both.

This report forces us to face the fact that even if we can check our brains and morality at the door, the utilitarian argument is a farce.  The only people who “benefitted” from the false information obtained as a result of torture are the Bush Administration and those who defend the Iraq war on the lie that Iraq and Al-Quaeda were in cahoots.

We should remember that what we are in the process of reading and digesting is a scrubbed Executive Summary.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am glad that after all these years, we have some information on the atrocities conducted in our name.  This report contains information about the war crimes, tells us that the CIA’s headquarters “instructed” personnel on how to torture.  It tells us about the techniques used, who designed them and how much the Bush Administration paid their torture designers.  We learned the CIA decided if and who it would brief.  In fact, Colin Powel was initially kept out of the loop out of fears that he would “blow his stack.”  We learned the CIA refused to hold the officer who killed his torture victim accountable.  It’s a report full of horrors and acts that sound like something out of Nazi Germany, Milosevic’s Yugoslavia or Pinochet’s Chile.

However, this is 1/10th of the material in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report.  We don’t know what information was left out of the report and what information wasn’t investigated by the Senate.  It’s pretty much a given that whatever that information is, it is probably worse than the information we have.

This report cannot and must not be the end.  I join with others calling for Bush and Cheney to be prosecuted. Actually the list should also include their “lawyers”, their torture designers, the people in the CIA who made the decisions and those who “just obeyed orders” and tortured people. As much as I support and respect President Obama, I respectfully differ with the sentiment that prosecutions for war crimes is about politicizing policy or obsessing with the past.  It is very much about about providing reasons to hold those responsible accountable, to say never again and mean it.  Prosecutions won’t change the past, but they have a potential to change the future into one more compatible with the principles we identify as American values.  It is also about how we define American patriotism and we have to deal with a CIA that is under the mistaken impression that it is above the law, accountability and other niceties that go with living in a civilized and free society.

Image: Mother Jones 



13 Replies to “The Torture Report is Only The Beginning of Dealing War Crimes Done in Our Name”

  1. This county never has had, nor ever will have, any “moral high ground” to object to any other country using torture. If anything, our government is one of the most evil there is. I am so disgusted and disappointed with the US Government.

  2. Imagine when Christians finally digest that the Anti-Christ is a Christian….Dick Cheney….

    You got some ‘splainin’ to do, Christians…

  3. Actually, the Antichrist, according to evangelical teachings regarding the Rapture and the Seven Years’ Tribulations, would be a man who “rises from total obscurity” and becomes a powerful figure in a popular movement in one or two years’ time.

    Sounds like Ted Cruz to me.

  4. The entire Bush cabinet needs to come out and be held accountable for their actions.

    The two US recruits that were the jailers held and tried for the Abu Ghraib atrocities, surely could have not done any of those things without layers and layers of powerful “somebody in charge” who wanted those events to take place.

    But surely Bush and Cheney have their “out of jail” cards ready to flash at the necessary times. If that is the case, just drop them in the hands of the enemies they have created.

  5. What really discusses me is how the very people who ordered all this torture allowed two young soldiers, Charles Graner and Lynndie England, to be tried in a military court, found guilty and sentenced to ten a years in prison, for basically following the orders of Chaney, Rumsfield, and Bush, et al. And those bastards didn’t say a word in their defense. I’m sure that every soldier and marine took note of how the lying bastards through them under the bus.

  6. Theres a difference between following orders and enjoying what you are doing far too much. What the 2 you note did was in the realm of torture for fun

  7. How Doctors Helped The CIA Get Better At Torture

    A 2008 study in the journal Torture cites findings that 20% of people who were tortured experienced some form of medical involvement. In some cases, these individuals were involuntarily drugged, or β€” as in the Senate report β€” checked to see if they were healthy enough to be tortured.

    Nearly one in ten people who were tortured had received mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from a caregiver after they slipped into unconsciousness. In at least some of those cases, they were presumably revived so they could continue to be tortured.
    Read More

  8. I respectfully disagree with you. Torture is torture. If we do not turn over these criminals. ISIS will use this as a recruiting tool that will prove to be very successful. How do you defend a nation that does not hold our criminals accountable based on their position?

    Bush and others must face justice if we are to maintain our stature throughout the world. Either that or we are a rogue country that operates with impunity and will suffer the consequences.

    Other nations will join together in destroying our reputation, our finances, our security. We jail people for selling marijuana stealing clothes, and other minor infractions. Yet you believe that when we break international laws. No person should be prosecuted?

    I say then we are not a nation of laws. Anarchy that is what will result!

  9. It is the end of law in America. Killer cops, Thieving banks, financial institutions, corrupted politicians. We are facing anarchy. They lie, cheat, distort facts…We as citizens can not survive this way.

    I suppose that armed robbery is an enhanced supplemental income technique or ESIT. Sounds better yes?

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