If this is ever to end

The way that US torture can end is for there to be public acknowledgment that it took place and fair public trials of those responsible at the highest levels.  A step may have been taken in this direction.

Ralph Lopez published an article in War Is A Crime that was reposted in part on Truthout which begins with this paragraph:

“Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been stripped of legal immunity for acts of torture against US citizens authorized while he was in office.  The 7th Circuit made the ruling in the case of two American contractors who were tortured by the US military in Iraq after uncovering a smuggling ring within an Iraqi security company.  The company was under contract to the Department of Defense.  The company was assisting Iraqi insurgent groups in the “mass acquisition” of American weapons.  The ruling comes as Rumsfeld begins his book tour with a visit to Boston on Wednesday, and as new, uncensored photos of Abu Ghraib spark fresh outrage across Internet.  Awareness is growing that Bush-era crimes went far beyond mere waterboarding.”

Lopez links part of the first sentence to this article which begins:

“The Seventh U.S. Court of Appeals ruled August 8 that two American citizens detained and tortured without trial or court hearing by the Bush-era Defense Department may sue former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.”

Lopez continues:

“The prospect of Rumsfeld in a courtroom cannot possibly be relished by the Obama administration, which has now cast itself as the last and staunchest defender of the embattled former officials, including John Yoo, Alberto Gonzalez, Judge Jay Bybee, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and others.  The administration employed an unprecedented twisting of arms in orer to keep evidence in a lawsuit which Binyam [a Guantanamo prisoner and UK resident who was released, there are posts about him and his lawyer Col. Yvonne Bradley on this blog] had filed in the UK suppressed, threatening an end of cooperation between the British MI5 and the CIA.  This even though the British judges whose hand was forced puzzled that the evidence ‘contained “no disclosure of sensitive intelligence matters.’ The judges suggested another reason for the secrecy requested by the Obama administration, that it might be ‘politically embarrassing.’

“The Obama Justice Department’s active involvement in seeking the dismissal of the cases is by choice, as the statutory obligation of the US Attorney General to defend cases against public officials ends the day they leave office.  Indeed, the real significance of the recent court decisions, one by the 7th Circuit and the other a DC federal court, may be the clarification the common misconception that high officials are forever immune for crimes committed while in office, in the name of the state.  The misconception persists despite just a moment of thought telling one that if this were true, Hermann Goering, Augusto Pinochet, and Charles Taylor would never have been arrested, for they were all in office at the time they ordered atrocities, and they all invoked national security.

“Judge Kessler’s findings point to yet another even more alarming aspect of the Bush-era crimes for which Rumsfeld is now being pursued for his part, if that is possible.  And that is the emerging evidence that the tortures perpetrated were not designed to protect national security at all, but to obtain false confessions in order to score propaganda points for the War on terror.”

Despite this lack of willingness to prosecute by the Obama regime, Lopez says this:

“Rumfeld’s worry now is the doctrine of Universal Jurisdiction, as well as ordinary common law.  The veil of immunity stripped in civil cases would seem to free the hand of any prosecutor who determines there is sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed based on available evidence.  A grand jury’s bar for opening a prosecution is minimal.  It has been said ‘a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich.’  Rumsfeld, and the evidence against him, would certainly seem to pass this test.

“As Rumfeld continues his book tour and people like Dilawar [who was murdered in US custody and whose case is documented in the article] are remembered, it is not beyond the pale that an ambitious prosecutor, whether local, state, or federal, might sense the advantage.  It is perhaps unlikely, but not inconceivable, that upon landing at Logan International Airport on Wed., Sept. 21st, or similarly anywhere he travels thereafter, Rumsfeld could be greeted with the words: ‘Welcome to Boston, Mr. Secretary.  You are under arrest.'”

I look forward to news of legal proceedings brought against Rumsfeld as well as Bush, Cheney, Rice, Yoo, and the other lawyers.  I want to see them offered due process, fair trials, and just decisions, rights they have denied all the prisoners at Guantanamo and Bagram and the secret black sites around the world.  I want to see them treated humanely, unlike the treatment they have given unknown numbers of people, many of them completely innocent, but I hope to see them held truly and rightly accountable.

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