Torture Report Vs. Rule Of Law

Washington crossing the Delaware River. Emanuel Leutze [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Washington crossing the Delaware River. Emanuel Leutze [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The fallout is still coming from the release of the summary of the Senate’s investigation of the CIA’s of torture. The strongest defenders of the Bush Administration say the fault is in the release of the report, not in the “enhanced interrogation program” that administration approved and signed off on.

Let’s just take a deep breath for a moment. The United States has been involved in writing the policies and laws that the international community has long heralded as aligning with civilized societies. Prominent in these laws and policies that we helped write and signed off on are those dealing with how torture is defined, and what violates human rights within the spectrum of torture. These are not “new” standards; they have been in place since 1907 and the Hague Convention IV , and were revised and expanded by the Geneva Convention III in 1949.

Historically, our country’s stance against torture goes all the way back to the Revolutionary War. George Washington spoke against torture numerous times. On September 14, 1775, Washington stated:

“Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.”

After the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776, the Continentals were preparing to run some of the British Empire’s German mercenaries through what they called the “gauntlet.” Washington intervened, and then issued an order to his troops regarding prisoners of war:

Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands.”

Most times when we hear rulings from the Supreme Court of the United States or even from the President himself, we hear that America “follows the Rule Of Law.” What does this actually mean? The World Justice Project defines “Rule of Law” as:

  1. The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law.
  2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.
  3. The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient.
  4. Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

Our “Rule Of Law” says the government and its officials are as accountable as individuals and that laws are applied evenly. There are those who believe that if Obama were to issue a pardon to all those involved in this matter, everything becomes palatable again. Issuing “pardons” when overwhelming evidence proves the crime was committed is not applying the law evenly or justly – pardons are issued after convictions.

The question of releasing the report has also become a major talking point by both sides. The real question is this: Shouldn’t we have asked if the actions to be taken could be reported without regret before we took the actions, instead of blaming the media for reporting the actions after we undertook them? If no one sees you steal something, did you steal it?

The argument that it would anger Muslims or terrorist groups even more is almost as laughable. Muslims are intelligent people – they were fully aware of what we were doing to their people after abducting them. Some were legitimate targets that needed to be imprisoned. Others were innocents in the wrong place at the wrong time. We tortured them indiscriminately.

As for terrorist groups, the same argument of awareness applies. Why do you think Daesch beheads their victims in GITMO Orange?

Softening the language is as sickening as the rest of this story. We hear officials brag about how the “enhanced interrogation techniques” kept us safe and, as Dick Cheney words it, “was doing the will of the American people”. If this were true, why did the CIA keep these activities secret and then lie when they were revealed? There is nothing “enhanced” about torturing any human, for any reason. This is a flat out lie that the report verifies as a lie.

It is reprehensible and complicit for the United States to not do one of two things: either prosecute those who were responsible for the actions of the CIA, or turn these individuals over to the world courts to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. If we are to retain any degree of respect while the whole world is watching, this is the only acceptable way to do it. Anything less proves we are neither remorseful or serious about following the Rule Of Law within our own government or borders.

Would you want to be allied with a country like that?

#RuleOfLaw  #Prosecute  #FireBrennan


Editorial Comment: This post co-authored by MNgranny & ew, Occupy World Writes staff writers.

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