Saturday, January 3, 2015

Re: Again - Many from Top-Down Involved in Torture Escaped Justice

Torture case that hit the world headlines with this photo
Female U.S. soldier, thumbs up, leaning over the body of Mr. Manadel al-Jamadi
(He died in 2003 while held at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison)

Source for this post is a look back at this fine article hereby Law Professor Jonathan Turley, posted here in part (my editing is included). Mr.Turley (bio - who is BTW one of my favs) wrote this in part: "Let it not be said that President Obama does not keep his promises." Then he continues - these are the parts I wanted to emphasize in this post:

As he prepared to accept his nomination for re-election, the president made good on a promise he made at the beginning of his term: “No CIA officers will be prosecuted for torture.”

AG Eric Holder quietly announced before the [DNC] convention that the last two torture investigations would close (like all the prior investigations) without any charges. As a virtual afterthought, the DOJ added that it would not address the “propriety of the examined conduct.” That “impropriety” involved two suspects who died under torture by CIA officials.

Background: “Order is an order”

Though the White House denied the stories, Mr. Obama later gave his controversial speech at the CIA headquarters. In the speech, he effectively embraced the defense of “Befehl ist befehl” (German: “An order is an order.”) and, in so doing, eviscerated one of the most important of the Nuremburg principles (The Nazis on trial then for killing millions all claimed they were just “following orders”).

Mr. Obama assured the CIA that employees would not be prosecuted for carrying out orders by superiors. That was later affirmed by Holder’s Justice Department, which decided that employees carrying out torture were protected because they followed orders. The administration then decided that those who gave the orders were protected because they secured facially flawed legal opinions from the DOJ. Finally, the DOJ decided not to charge its own lawyers who gave those opinions because they were their … well … just opinions.

All that, of course, still left two “inconvenient corpses in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The first was in 2002: Gul Rahman was grabbed in Pakistan while seeing a doctor who is the son-in-law of an Afghanistan warlord. He was taken by the CIA to the infamous Salt Pit, a former brick factory north of Kabul. He was beaten by guards, stripped and shackled to a cement wall in near freezing temperatures. He froze to death overnight. (Note: The CIA officer in charge of the prison who ordered the lethal abuse has been promoted according to the AP and The Washington Post).

The second was in 2003: That was the torture case of Manadel al-Jamadi, who died in Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison. Al-Jamadi’s face was featured in pictures with smiling U.S. troops posed with his dead body — giving the thumbs up sign (photo seen above). A CIA official had interrogated al-Jamadi by suspending him from a barred window by his wrists, which were bound behind his back. The CIA interrogator, Mark Swanner, continued to demand answers even when al-Jamadi stopped responding. Swanner accused him of “playing possum” and ordered him to be repositioned for more interrogation, according to a New Yorker account. The guards finally convinced Swanner that the man was deceased. Al-Jamadi’s death was officially ruled a homicide.

Summary: We have gone from prosecuting torture as a war crime after World War II to now treating allegations of torture today as a “question of propriety” under President Obama. Hundreds of officials, including former President George W. Bush, were involved.

FYI - a review of the soldiers punished for Abu Ghraib (their role in torture).

A  lot of what is posted here today is also documented at my main detainee/torture page here - FYI. Check it out. 

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