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Posts Tagged ‘torture’

Well, what do you know?

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Obama says that he will not prosecute people who practised the actual hands-on torture (enhanced interogation techniques), arguing that those people were carrying out orders and committing acts that they were lead to believed were legal… They were ordered to do something they were told was legal at that time by their county’s powers that be…. they were just following orders… The Nuremberg defence!!!

If torture techniques are important and successful ways of obtaining information for the Americans… wouldn’t torture techniques have been seen as important and successful ways of obtaining information for the Nazis, Japanese, the Chinese, etc.?? and the Americans prosecuted some of those people and some were sentenced to death because of their acts of torture…. But when it is Americans who are accused and implicated in perpetrating torture how thick and fast the excuses flow…I cannot believe that Americans can justify what has gone on through the Bush administration – especially with what is emerging from torture memoranda and discussions.

The logical conclusion to the arguments supporting the “enhanced interrogation techniques” is that the ends justify the means; that is to say that if lives were saved, it doesn’t matter HOW they were saved… it doesn’t matter HOW information was obtained to potentially save those lives, it doesn’t matter HOW the people who threatened those lives were treated – ANY behaviour, ANY policy, ANY technique  can be justified if the desired ends are achieved… If Americans believe that, then America (the idea of what America once claimed itself to be. The dream of what America stood for – as articulated in its Declaration of independence) as a moral leader in the world is dead, and George W Bush killed it… I hope Obama will not be the undertaker but the resuscitator.

I understand that by international law and by treaty, waterboarding is defined as torture. The US is a signatory to such laws and treaty and as such is duty bound to act against those who prepared and perpetrated such torture… all else is hypocrisy.

Prosecute the guilty without fear or favour

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In the US another report has been released dealing with an issue from the Bush administration. In this case, a report about the treatment of detainees in the so called war on terror, at places including Guantanamo Bay Cuba and  Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.

I will not yet make comment on this report or the memoranda that were released by the Obama administration last week lest I speak too soon and other reports on the actions of the previous US President and his administration are released to a (now) not too disbelieving world.

With every disclosure on the behaviour of the Bush White House I think of just two things… That administration lead Australia and other countrys into an unnecessary and illegal war… and in the face if the illegality, imorallity of the things we are learing about the government of George W Bush, I can’t help thinking that his predecessor was impeached, hounded and publically condemned for having (and lying about having) a blowjob (oral sex).

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The Obama administration has just released memoranda from the Bush administation that detail techniques of enhanced interrogation imposed on prisoners of the war on terror, many of which are recognised as torture. On the surface (in my unqualified opinion) these memos could form the basis of either war crimes charges, or even simply charges within the US military or civilian court system.

On waterboarding, in which a person gets the sensation of drowning, the memo said, “although the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death, prolonged mental harm must nonetheless result” to violate the law.

In my mind, it stands to reason that a country that prides itself, and describes itself,  as the defender of freedom and justice through the rule of law, would (as a matter of course) in the light of such damning evidence of immoral and (by international law) illegal activities, lay charges, try these people in a court of law, and if found guilty, punish them…. But not in Obama’s America... no… the crimes of the Bush administration both foreign and domestic will not be answered for, no charges laid, no courts to examine what happened, no punishment meted out – no responsibility accepted.

President Obama said in an interview with CNN “I’m a strong believer that it’s important to look forward and not backwards,” Like a hit and run driver, Obama does not wish to examine the damage the vehicle he now drives has caused in the world.

What if the situation were reversed and it had been US or ‘coalition’ members being tortured by agents of another country in contravention of international law? Would ANY US President stand to see such a country wash its hands of responsibility for its stated actions? That would be hypocrisy at its most pure.

Barack Obama, your predecessor blackened the name of the US around the world through his administration’s cavileer, even illegal, approach to international laws and conventions. PLEASE do not carelessly spend the good will that your accension to the Presidency is leant to your country around the world, by giving tacit approval for the actions of the Bush adminisration through not prosecuting crimes committed in your county’s name.

Why should this concern an Australian writer? Apart from the assult on basic human morality that torture must elicit in most people, Australia was/is a member of the “coalition of the willing” lead by the US. If Australian forces surrendered JUST ONE person who was subsequently tortured by US interrogators using techniques outlined in these newly released memoranda; then not only were these crimes committed in YOUR country’s name… but also in MINE.

You have a responsibility to the world to prove that the US does indeed defend freedom and justice through the rule of law, even when the accused criminals are American.

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