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).

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future