Damning indictment of the Bush administration


Copy Editor

A damning indictment of the Bush administration appeared in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times on Sunday, March 15. It was a summary (the complete document was published in The New York Review of Books and is available at www.nybooks.com) and analysis of a leaked classified International Committee of the Red Cross report that documents the torture and abuse– this is the conclusion of the Red Cross, not merely my opinion– of “14 high-value detainees” who were held in secret CIA prisons. The torture took place with the full knowledge and approval of the President of the United States and senior administration officials. Detainees were tortured in violation of the Geneva Conventions, The Convention against Torture and U.S. law.

The article, “Tales From Torture’s Dark World” by Mark Danner, a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and Bard College, is specific and stark in it’s description of the brutal treatment that the detainees received at the hands of the CIA, treatment that was reviewed and OK’d on a daily basis, by Cheney, Rice, Ashcroft and Rumsfeld.

The prisoners were interviewed separately by the Red Cross, and the interviews provide a strikingly consistent pattern of abuse. The report leaves no room for questions about whether or not the detainees were tortured, though the President lied on numerous occasions claiming, “We do not torture.”

Saying this does not make it true. And now we can prove it. Danner said that the U.S. started torturing prisoners in the spring of 2002, and shortly afterwards, a secret memo from the justice department, authored by John Yoo, emerged, which the administration used to claim that what they were doing is legal. But it wasn’t.

One thing that President Bush said that was true is this: in the United States we do not torture. Torture is against the law. We now have proof that the Bush administration violated the law. There must be an investigation and if the investigation produces the evidence of criminal behavior, which in light of what we have see here, inevitably it will, then criminal prosecutions should follow.

Senator Patrick Leahey, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has called for a Truth Commission to investigate the Bush Administration with regard to torture. Leahey has suggested that he could offer immunity to anyone who came forward, if he or she told the truth. But this is a bad idea. Our jails are filled with people who are held to account for the crimes they have committed; harshly I might add, under Republican rules. Why all of a sudden, should we suspend the rules? In this nation no one is supposed to be above the law, but from 2000-2008 the Bush administration played fast and loose with this principle, claiming essentially that in a time of war (an amorphous war with no boundaries and no end in sight) the President does not have to follow the law.

The detainees may have been terrorists, but we did torture them. Torture is against the law and the ICRC report incriminates senior level Bush administration members — Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Ashcroft, and Bush himself. Sucks to be them.