The Bush-Cheney regime torturers probably should not travel outside the U.S.

The United States is not only a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, it was the principal author. Under the Convention that the U.S. authored,  the U.S. is legally obligated to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance if there is sufficient evidence to to bring a case. The 6,300 page classified Senate Intelligence Committee report is a roadmap to prosecution.

If the U.S. will not live up to its legal and moral obligation to prosecute those involved, the rest of the world has a right to do so under universal jurisdiction.  The Bush-Cheney regime torturers probably should not travel outside the U.S.

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Think Progress reports, Horrors Of Torture Report Prompt International Calls For ‘Criminal Accountability’:

Ben Emmerson, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights doesn’t think official authorization from agencies within the U.S. frees those who carried out torture from facing justice.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the U.S. government provides no excuse whatsoever,” Emmerson said in a statement. “Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”

He added that as a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, the U.S. is legally obligated to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance if there is sufficient evidence to to bring about a case.

International law does not permit individuals who carried out torture to dismiss liability because they were acting on orders. And, Emmerson said, “States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes.”

However, the Justice Department will not bring criminal charges against those involved in executing the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques.

In a statement, the agency noted that it reviewed allegations of torture and found two cases worthy of criminal investigations, but “ultimately declined those cases for prosecution, because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain convictions beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The actual unstated reason was politics, not a legal determination of the evidence.

Advocacy groups have raised concerns about the Justice Department’s investigations, especially because officials refused to say whether or not they interviewed any victims of torture.

“We know absolutely that key witnesses [who were subjected to torture] that went beyond what was authorized in C.I.A custody, were not interviewed,” Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch wrote in an email to the New York Times.

Now that the Senate has made public alarming details about the extensive C.I.A.’s use of torture which ranged from “rectal rehydration,” the use of insects, and shackling a naked man to a cold cell wall, more cases can be brought against those involved.

“Other countries have all the information they need should they wish to exercise universal jurisdiction and prosecute these officials should they appear in their borders,” Andrea Prasow of Human Rights Watch said.

Universal jurisdiction is a legal doctrine that allows the courts of any country to try certain crimes against humanity including torture regardless of where those crimes took place or who is alleged to have committed them. It stems from a 1998 case brought by a Spanish court against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for the murder and torture of opposition figures.

Some organizations that have already invoked this principle and are planning to use this new release of information to build their case against American officials.

“After reviewing this report, we will give consideration to reopening petitions or filing new petitions in European courts under the principles of universal jurisdiction,” Baher Azmy of the Center for Constitutional Rights told BloombergView. His organization represents several former Guantanamo Bay detainees has brought cases against Bush administration officials in Germany, Canada, and France but has failed to persuade courts to indict. It also has a case pending in Spain, but Azmy said the report’s revelations could be a game-changer.

“This suggests the possibility of reopening those cases,” Azmy said. “We are filing additional petitions against the C.I.A and high level officials.”

Raha Wala of Human Rights First also told BloombergView, that civil cases are likely to be brought as well.

“I would fully expect that individuals who were subjected to these programs would take up civil actions in court to get some sort of remedy for these human rights violations,” he said.

In a fact sheet, the ACLU notes that there are a number of U.S. laws that could be invoked to hold those accused of torture responsible including the federal torture statute that criminalizes the infliction of severe physical or mental suffering with intent outside of the U.S.

The group points out that while some of the alleged crimes occurred more than a decade ago, “There is no statute of limitations under the torture statute when the abuse risked or resulted in serious physical injury or death.”

There is also no statute of limitations for war crimes.

So here’s the deal: we can either go through the spectacle of foreign countries prosecuting the Bush-Cheney regime for illegal torture and war crimes, or the U.S. can hold its own accountable on U.S. soil in U.S. courts by fulfilling its legal and moral obligation to prosecute these war criminals, the politics be damned.

3 responses to “The Bush-Cheney regime torturers probably should not travel outside the U.S.

  1. I read years ago that both Bush and Cheney had purchased very large estates in Argentina. This report might influence their ability to get away for the weekend.

  2. Concerned citizen/taxpayer

    ‘The Dark Side,’ by Jane Mayer – Review – NYTimes.com 2008

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/books/review/Brinkley-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    “The architects of this network of secret prisons and secret torture were a small but powerful group within the Bush administration. Dick Cheney stood at the center of the effort but delegated many of its operations to others. The vice president’s counsel (and later chief of staff), David Addington, was a ruthless, bullying enforcer of the strategy, effectively derailing all challenges by claiming that everything had been mandated by the president and by dismissing all legal and moral challenges as naïve and weak. John Yoo, a law professor from the University of California, Berkeley, who worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, drafted an infamous memo giving legal cover to torture by simply redefining what torture was — virtually anything short of deliberate killing. George Tenet, the eager-to-please C.I.A. director; William Haynes, the militant general counsel to the Pentagon; Alberto Gonzales, the weak and pliable White House counsel who later became attorney general: all played vital roles in the creation and protection of these covert strategies. At the urging of Cheney — or his surrogate Addington — President Bush nullified the Geneva Conventions and, without publicly stating it, suspended habeas corpus for terror suspects, thus removing two important impediments to torture. Others worked to undermine the 1984 international Convention Against Torture, which, under American leadership, had provided the first explicit definition of what torture was.”

  3. captain*arizona

    You are wrong. They should all travel to the hague and lets all help buy their one way tickets!