Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 11:18 pm

I couldn’t agree more

ICTJ: We need more investigation of John Yoo and Jay Bybee:

“A full accounting of US policy on torture following the attacks of September 11, 2001 is more important than ever,” said Hanny Megally, ICTJ’s Interim President. “The report is enlightening and chilling. It relates in detail how the lawyers tailored their memos to justify torture and to prevent accountability, marking a critical turning away from US respect for the rule of law. The United States will only manage to fully reverse this devastating policy and the actions it empowered by reaffirming accountability as an indispensable control on the abuse of power. This requires an independent investigation of the full story of US counterterrorism operations and abuses, prosecution of those most responsible for wrongdoing, continued reform of laws and institutions to prevent abuses in the future, and appropriate redress for victims of torture,” he concluded.

The director of ICTJ’s US Accountability Project, Lisa Magarrell, said that, “The OPR report conveys very clearly that the overriding concern of the White House at the time was not to ensure by careful, objective legal analysis that torture, cruel and degrading treatment of detainees were prevented and violators held to account, as both US and international law require. Rather, the authors of the torture memos went to great lengths to give the White House, CIA and others involved in counterterrorism operations advance legal cover and assurances that they could torture with impunity.” …

I have read the defenses of David Margolis’s report offered (or linked to) by several people who have corresponded with me about this. And for me it comes down to this: Yoo and Bybee, without any legal basis and while ignoring crucial precedent making waterboarding a crime, told the administration not only that it could do what it wanted but also that what it had already done in clear violation of the UN Convention Against Torture was OK.

The UNCAT’s language is simple, clear and unambiguous. It specifically rules out the defenses offered by Yoo and Bybee and their defenders. It explicitly bars treatment even substantially less severe than waterboarding. And, having been signed in ’88 and ratified in ’94 by the U.S., it is, under the Constitution, part of the “supreme law of the land,” not something that can be simply disregarded by a Justice Department bureaucrat.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is supposed to be having a hearing on this subject Friday. Chairman Pat Leahy is a former prosecutor. It would be nice to think that he’ll be asking the right questions, but then this is Leahy we’re talking about. And Greensboro’s own Howard Coble, also a former prosecutor, has been absolutely no damn help on this at all.

(h/t: Jill)

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