Skip to main content

The Constitution Project's Task Force on Detainee Treatment is an independent, non-partisan group that produced a report comprehensively documenting the United States' descent into torture. The Task Force released a 600-page report today. Among the Report's many conclusions:

U.S. forces, in many instances, used interrogation techniques on detainees that
constitute torture. American personnel conducted an even larger number of
interrogations that involved “cruel, inhuman, or degrading” treatment. Both
categories of actions violate U.S. laws and international treaties. Such conduct was
directly counter to values of the Constitution and our nation.
There is no firm or persuasive evidence that the widespread use of harsh interrogation
techniques by U.S. forces produced significant information of value. There
is substantial evidence that much of the information adduced from the use of such
techniques was not useful or reliable.
The Senate Intelligence Committee approved its own 6,000 page report, which similarly concludes that torture occurred and was ineffective at gleaning intelligence, but Congress refused to release the report publicly. Shame on Congress.

Along the same vein, the Obama administration has said it wants to "look forward, not backward" on torture, and the Justice Department has declined to prosecute any of the government officials who ordered torture, the doctors who supervised it, the lawyers who justified it, or the agents who actually tortured people. Shame on the Obama administration.

(The Justice Department instead chose to prosecute Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whistleblower John Kiriakou, who refused to participate in torture and helped exposed the torture program).

The Task Force places much of the blame for torture on the high-level officials that ordered and authorized the practices, but finds that culpability also lies with the lawyers who rationalized torture. The report found that:

Lawyers in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) repeatedly gave
erroneous legal sanction to certain activities that amounted to torture and cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment in violation of U.S. and international law, and in
doing so, did not properly serve their clients: the president and the American people.
Under Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department absolved the torture memo authors (Jay Bybee and John Yoo) of any professional accountability for torture.

Despite the obvious ethical violations in rationalizing torture, I am the only Justice Department attorney who was referred the bar associations where I'm licensed in connection with a torture case (that of so-called "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh), and I blew the whistle in that case. (One bar referral is still pending a decade later).

The Task Force was also critical of the excessive secrecy surrounding the torture program:

The high level of secrecy surrounding the rendition and torture of detainees since September 11 cannot continue to be justified on the basis of national security.
If national security is no longer a justification for secrecy, as the Task Force concludes, then the only reason for continued secrecy is to cover-up torture and cover for the officials who perpetuated the torture program. (I've written about the lengths to which the executive branch - particularly the CIA - has gone to protect and promote torturers).

Gandhi said:

A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.
We have been protecting the wrong people.
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (22+ / 0-)

    My book, TRAITOR: THE WHISTLEBLOWER & THE "AMERICAN TALIBAN," is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Human Rights Books for February 2012.

    by Jesselyn Radack on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:10:53 AM PDT

  •  A moral stain exists on our society (9+ / 0-)

    The candidate who campaigned on cleaning things up in '08 consciously ignored the stain after taking office.  Yes, this country has done a lot of awful things abroad over the centuries.  It never, however, openly adopted torture as a policy tool w/ express approval coming from the very top.

    On the culpability scale, those who endorsed, justified, ordered and carried out torture bear the greatest responsibility.  Those, however, who had the ability to punish at least some of the wrongdoers and who freely decided not to do so bear responsibility as well.  Their inactions have legitmized torture as a policy tool, which will inevitably lead to its re-use some time in the future.

    In hindsight, a campaign based upon "Change" was, by design a Rohrschach Test for its supporters.  One change I expected to see was an express repudiation of torture, the imposition of some form of sanction against its perpetrators, and the closure of Gitmo.  I expected a lot of things in those days.

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

    by RFK Lives on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:32:30 AM PDT

  •  The people govern. We rely on agents of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    government to carry out specific duties and obligations. When they don't, we have the option of firing them.
    If, during routine opportunities for review, we let ourselves be distracted and/or entertained by side issues, such as the definition of gender, good hair or a silver tongue, then we should not be surprised that our agents are, like the unjust steward in the Bible, corrupt.
    How do we define corruption? When people are paid, it's easy. They are corrupt when they serve two masters, one of which may be, but necessarily, the self. The U.S. Congress has been quite successful in disguising its service, not to the members themselves in the immediate present, but to special interests, which can be counted on to return the favor later. The problem with the "revolving door" isn't that office holders transition into or out of the private sector prior to or after their public service. The problem is that they serve the special interests gratis while they are in office because, deep down, they have nothing but contempt for the public which has bought their crap.

    We assume most liars lie because they have something to hide. That's wrong. Congenital liars lie to express their contempt for their fellow man. Moreover, it is this contemp which then, once they assume office, gets expressed as punishment. They deprive those who elect them of their rights as just deserts for people who were stupid enough to believe them -- just as Eve deserved to get punished for believing the snake.

    Shall we call Satan's spawn evil? Perhaps not. Deception is a natural instinct. They can't help it.
    But, we don't have to let them get away with it.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:37:02 AM PDT

  •  Gandhi (0+ / 0-)

    It's Gandhi not Ghandi.

  •  secrecy to cover up government wrongs (6+ / 0-)

    the surveillance state on us

    the secrecy state on them

    the them are winning

    the them have the power

    the constitution is so quaint when applied to them

  •  It seems ... (5+ / 0-)

    to be becoming abundantly clear that our government is moving towards giving the constitution little more than lip service.

    I wonder what President Obama's lectures in constitutional law were like.

    ...."I was a constitutional law professor, which means unlike the current president I actually respect the Constitution."
    I want to ask the President "On what planet do your positions on extra judicial execution and warrantless wiretapping among other policies..coincide with respect for the constitution?"

    It's often worse on the other side of the political spectrum as we all know, even though that side claims nothing if not religious deference to that most holy of holys.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site