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Cross-posted at The Dead Guy

You would think I wouldn't have to say more. That we have all heard the news. That we all knew what was done was against the law - both domestic and international. One day, maybe soon, we all will know. One day, maybe soon - we'll see our 43rd President, along with current and former members of his administration, hauled before an international court for crimes against humanity in time of war.

In today's interview with ABC News, President Bush admits he was aware and approved of his senior advisers were making decisions, on a case by case basis, on what interrogation techniques (including waterboarding and other extreme inhumane activities) would be utilized.

President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.

"Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people." Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. "And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."

(the article continues)

The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.

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


Powell said that he didn't have "sufficient memory recall" about the meetings and that he had participated in "many meetings on how to deal with detainees."

Powell said, "I'm not aware of anything that we discussed in any of those meetings that was not considered legal."


Ashcroft was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.

According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."

(emphasis added)

I don't know which bothers me most - that Ashcroft said this was "legal" or that they were actually discussing torture while drinking coffee, tea or soda (Ok, I don't know what they were drinking - but I'm sure your mouth has to become a bit dry during a meeting like these). And really - I know what bothers me more - all of it - that our government has become exactly the kind of body that we are fighting against by torturing others and thinks it is o.k.

Geneva Conventions

The Geneva Conventions state that every person who is in enemy hands is either covered as a prisoner of war (Third Convention) or a civilian (Fourth Convention) and both conventions forbid the use of torture. This standing was reinforced by the findings by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Celebici Judgment when it quoted the 1958 ICRC commentary on the Fourth Geneva Convention. "There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can be outside the law." This international standing stands in complete opposition to the Bush administration's interpretation of those held in the "war on terror" as being "unlawful combatants."

Waterboarding is Torture

The US has long considered waterboarding - which dates back at least to the Spanish Inquisition - to be torture and a war crime.  As early as 1901, a US court martial sentenced Major Edwin Glenn to 10 years hard labour for subjecting a suspected insurgent in the Philippines to the "water cure".

President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the court-martial of the American General on the island of Samar for allowing his troops to waterboard, when the court-martial found only that he had acted with excessive zeal Roosevelt disregarded the verdict and had the General dismissed from the Army.

After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: "I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure." He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. "Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning," he replied, "just gasping between life and death."

Water boarding was designated as illegal by U.S. generals in Vietnam 40 years ago. A photograph that appeared in The Washington Post of a U.S. soldier involved in water boarding a North Vietnamese prisoner in 1968 led to that soldier's severe punishment.  "The soldier who participated in water torture in January 1968 was court-martialed within one month after the photos appeared in The Washington Post, and he was drummed out of the Army," recounted Darius Rejali, a political science professor at Reed College.

In 1983, federal prosecutors charged {Texas sheriff James Parker} and three of his deputies with violating prisoners' civil rights by forcing confessions. The complaint alleged that the officers conspired to "subject prisoners to a suffocating water torture ordeal in order to coerce confessions. This generally included the placement of a towel over the nose and mouth of the prisoner and the pouring of water in the towel until the prisoner began to move, jerk, or otherwise indicate that he was suffocating and/or drowning."  The four defendants were convicted, and the sheriff was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

United Nation Convention and Declarations

We are a signatory nation to the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). This means that we shall prohibit the use of torture under ANY condition. Even if it wasn't explicit in the Geneva Conventions, we have explicitly agreed to this by signing onto UNCAT in April 1988 under President Reagan and ratifying October 1994 under President Clinton. The treaty states "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

Also, in 1948, we were one of 48 countries who ratified theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states in Article 5, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Just think, in December - this declaration will be 60 years old and for almost the past 8 of them, the Bush Administration has turned a blind eye to this part of the International Bill of Human Rights. (By the way, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in assisting the writing of the UDHR - this was THE First Lady who HAD the experience to be President).

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, has stated on the subject: "I would have no problems with describing {waterboarding} as falling under the prohibition of torture," and Violators of the UN Convention against Torture should be prosecuted under the principle of universal jurisdiction.


President Bush and his administration need to take responsibility for their actions. They need to be held accountable. Based upon everything we read and know about waterboarding, torture, human rights, and the law - both domestic and international - shows that this administration knowingly ripped asunder the laws which define out humanity and it is time for justice:

  • It is time for Congress to hold full impeachment proceedings on every member of the administration who had direct influence on the use of torture.

  • It is time for an independent investigation be called and those same members should be brought into the court system and tried on criminal charges.

  • It is time for the International Court of Justice at the Hague to bring charges against those same members.

It is time for the truth.

It is time for humanity.

It is time for justice.


Originally posted to Thatcher on Sat Apr 12, 2008 at 04:57 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  IT'S PAST TIME!! (9+ / 0-)

    For we passed the line long ago as to the BlowBack, but Criminal Charges and Convictions may, may, just Help Restore a Tiny Bit Of an Apology, To The World!!

    " Every war, when viewed from the undistorted perspective of life's sanctity, is a "civil war" waged by humanity against itself." - Daisaku Ikeda

    by jimstaro on Sat Apr 12, 2008 at 05:07:16 PM PDT

    •  Gates Pushes, Sadr Slams Back (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Valtin, jimreyn

      Is Iraq about to Blow Wide Open, 19 U.S. Killed so far this week, and it might be just the beginning.

      I'm hoping some Sense comes into play here, or it's back to what it was or Worse!

      Sadr says US will always be enemy

      "I have no enemy but you. You are the occupier," Mr Sadr's statement said.

      Gates sending a subtle message:

      "Those who are prepared to work within the political process in Iraq, and peacefully, are not enemies of the United States," Mr Gates said.

      "[Mr Sadr] has a large following. And I think it's important that he become a part of the process if he isn't already."

      And Sadr isn't having any of it:

      But Mr Sadr asked: "Which political process do you want to involve me in when you are occupying my land?"

      He said he would continue resisting the US presence in a "way that we consider suitable".

      He urged the Iraqi government to "rid the land of the occupier" but said his followers should not "raise your weapons against Iraqis as long as they don't help the occupier".

      Winning Hearts and Minds, the Mantra of Counter Insurgency, and it's First Failure!!!!

      " Every war, when viewed from the undistorted perspective of life's sanctity, is a "civil war" waged by humanity against itself." - Daisaku Ikeda

      by jimstaro on Sat Apr 12, 2008 at 05:52:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Is it just me, or (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jimstaro, watercarrier4diogenes

    do others think that it's about time for them to see whether waterboarding et al. are torture by experiencing it themselves?  Let's start with chimpy and Cheney...

    If, as they claim, this does not constitute torture, then they should be perfectly happy to have it happen to them, n'est-ce pas?

    Our economy is a house of cards. Don't breathe.

    by Youffraita on Sat Apr 12, 2008 at 05:21:47 PM PDT

    •  Unfortunately, the Chump in Chief... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...can probably rest easy from the folks at the Hague, since jurists there tend to have a progressive view against prosecuting those with mental defects than is the case in places like Texas!  However, that factor won't be of much help to Cheney and the others.

  •  Can we say, "well, duh!" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin, jimstaro

    Not that it will do any good. I suspect that the dem leadership is also implicated and that, after their acquiescence in briefings may fear the consequences.

  •  The ICC cant do anything (1+ / 0-)

    the USA isnt a member and the ICC charter states only people from memebr countrys can be charged.

    Just FYI

    Want Europe's respect back? Vote for the Democrat named CLARK!

    by GATXER on Sat Apr 12, 2008 at 05:50:04 PM PDT

  •  A city on a hill (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jimstaro, Randall Sherman

    a beacon to nations.


    So ends American Exceptionalism.

    Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

    by Eiron on Sat Apr 12, 2008 at 05:53:03 PM PDT

  •  Tip Jar .. my first diary and I forgot, bad me (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the reminder!

  •  All Americans are shamed by... (0+ / 0-)

    ...what is done in our name.

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Sat Apr 12, 2008 at 10:00:03 PM PDT

  •  The Internation Court of Justice in the Hague (0+ / 0-)

    (the ICJ or World Court) is not a criminal court.  It handles disputes between nations.  

    The International Criminal Court (ICC),also located in the Hague, is an international organization established in 2002 under the Treaty of Rome.  The treaty, which Clinton signed, and which the Senate refused to ratify, was "unsigned" by Bush (an interesting point of international law - can a country which is a signatory (but not a ratifier) become a non-signatory?)

    The ICC has jurisdiction only over those violations of international humanitarian law committed by nationals of member states (ratifiers) after the coming into effect of the Treaty on 1 July 2002.  The one exception is if the Security Council grants jurisdiction to the ICC.  This was done with regard to Darfur, as Sudan in not a member state of the ICC.

    As a result, I don't think that we will see any of "our" criminals in the dock at the Hague any time soon.

    Diplomacy, n. The patriotic act of lying for one's country -- Ambrose Bierce - So how come the Bushies are so bad at diplomacy?

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 03:52:24 PM PDT

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