Matching Grant Challenge
alexPureWhen I met Alexander Cockburn, one of his first questions to me was: “Is your hate pure?” It was the question he asked most of the young writers he mentored. These were Cockburn’s rules for how to write political polemics: write about what you care about, write with passion, go for the throat of your enemies and never back down. His admonitions remain the guiding stylesheet for our writers at CounterPunch. Please help keep the spirit of this kind of fierce journalism alive by taking advantage of  our matching grant challenge which will DOUBLE every donation of $100 or more. Any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us $200 or $500 or more, he will give CounterPunch a matching $200 or $500 or more. Don’t miss the chance. Double your clout right now. Please donate. –JSC
 Day 19

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

pp1

or
cp-store

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Appoint a Special Prosecutor

The Torture Commission Trap

by MICHAEL RATNER

Today I awoke to read that a number of human rights type groups have  called on President Obama to create a commission of accountability to  investigate and report publicly on torture and the cruel and inhumane  treatment of detainees. There is not a word in the petition about  criminal prosecutions of the torture team. Yet, I know that some of  these groups would say they still want prosecutions. Sadly, this call  and a commission if set up, would almost guarantee that prosecutions  won’t happen.

Briefly, here is why. We have reached a critical political moment on  this issue. Obama has been forced or pushed to open the door to  prosecutions, an opening I thought would take much longer to achieve. If  there was ever a time to push that door open wider and demand a special  prosecutor it is now. We have documented and open admissions of  criminality. We have Cheney and Hayden admitting what they approved  these techniques; and Cheney saying he would approve waterboarding  again. We have the Senate Armed Services Report detailing how the  torture program was authored and approved by our highest officials in  the Whitehouse and employed in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan. And we  have thousands of pages of proof. There is public outrage about the  torture program and the media in the US and the world are covered with  the US misdeeds.

So at this moment, instead of human rights groups getting together and  calling for a special prosecutor what do they do? Call for a commission.  What this call does and it must be said strongly is take the pressure  off what is the growing public push for prosecutions and deflects it  into a commission. Outrage that could actually lead to prosecutions is  now focused away and into a commission. Think if this list of human  rights groups had demanded prosecutions. We would be closer and not  farther from the goal.

I am sure some of these human rights groups will argue that a commission  will or can be a first step to prosecutions. Sure, it is possible, but  unlikely for the reasons I gave in a letter published in Harper’s and  available on my blog. The commission process will drag on, statutes of  limitation will run and the conclusion of the commission is likely to  be: the US should not have tortured, but it was an extraordinary and  dangerous moment after 9/11 and the torturers were acting in our best  interest to avoid another 9/11. Prosecutions are not recommended.

I don’t think I need to repeat here why we need prosecutions. If we are  to stop torture in the future we need to send the clear message that if  an official tortures, prosecutions will follow. Without that message the  next President or even this one, can again put us on the page of torture  by signing another executive order. And don’t think that won’t happen no  matter how many commissions reach results saying the US should not have  tortured. It will and Cheney, Hayden and other have said so.

It is time to do what is necessary. Appoint a special prosecutor and  insure that this country will not again be a country of torture.

MICHAEL RATNER is president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and author of The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: a Prosecution by Book.