FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush’s Torture Tort Reform

by DAVE LINDORFF

 

Back when the Bush administration filed a brief in federal court opposing the decision to award almost a billion dollars in damages to 17 Americans who had been captured and tortured by Saddam Hussein’s government during the Gulf War, it appeared to be a strange move.

Granted, the Bush administration claimed that Iraq was no longer a terrorist state, and thus didn’t fall under the U.S. law that allowed such suits, but then, a country ordinarily is liable for the obligations incurred under earlier regimes (the US has usually been among the most insistent on this principle). Iraq, for example, still owes much of the foreign debt accrued under Hussein to build his palaces and monuments, and will continue to do so unless the creditors forgive it. Besides, at the time the administration was making its argument against the judgement against Iraq, there was no government in Iraq–just the U.S. occupation authority. And there was this huge pot of reconstruction money voted by Congress which was just sitting around waiting to be transferred into the coffers of Halliburton and other U.S. companies. A billion wouldn’t have been missed, and it would have been such a nice gesture to the soldiers who had suffered so at Saddam’s hands.

Now, of course, after all the disclosures about American torture of captured prisoners, the administration’s move makes more sense. If Americans could effectively sue a foreign terrorist regime for abusing them in violation of the Geneva Accords, so could those hundreds of victims of American torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

And the U.S. government wouldn’t even have the excuse that the Iraq government was able to use, that it is no longer a terrorist regime. America under George Bush fits that definition very nicely, from its “shock and awe” bombardment campaign at the start of its unprovoked invasion of Iraq to the invasion itself, to its use of anti-personnel weapons in crowded urban environments, and to its its indiscriminate use of maximally toxic depleted uranium weapons.

It is even supporting the request for asylum of a Cuban exile who was responsible for killing over 70 people in the bombing of a passenger aircraft. Of course, America has been a terrorist state for decades: what, if not terror, was the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, which saw tens of thousands of South Vietnamese killed–often along with innocent family members–simply because they supported that country’s nationalist revolution?

What else besides terror was the illegal CIA-directed Contra campaign against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government?

What else was the U.S.-backed coup against the elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile and the subsequent execution of thousands of Chileans?

The list of such terrorist acts is endless, but at least prior governments had enough of a sense of shame to try to hide them from the American public. But now the Bush administration openly espouses and defends such terrorist policies, including the illegal kidnapping of foreign nationals who are shipped off (“rendition” is the term of choice, the same word used to describe what they do to old horses) to other states and handed over to the tender mercies of their secret police for purposes of torture.

How could such a government as ours support the idea of terror victims suing nations for their pain and suffering, without inviting such lawsuits against itself?

And so we have the sorry spectacle of American veterans betrayed by their own government after an American court has ruled that they are owed
compensation for their suffering.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
David Yearsley
Handel’s Executioner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail