FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ending Torture, Prosecuting the Torturers

by BENJAMIN G. DAVIS

Recently released reports confirm that the United States still has very important unfinished business with regard to torture. Civilians at the highest levels of government as well as military generals have committed crimes. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, State Department Legal Adviser John Bellinger, and documents from 2003 and 2004 provide further evidence that the White House endorsed the use of torture. The Department of Justice, Department of Defense, Department of State, Intelligence, and other leadership have all been complicit. Congressional leadership has been far too passive and encouraged these acts. These are bipartisan crimes. They are crimes against the United States and the world community.

As usual, we read in the press that no one will prosecute these crimes. They will if we insist.

We need to criminally prosecute the perpetrators. We must prosecute them because low-level soldiers ordered to do their bidding have been prosecuted. Soldiers who served at Bagram and Abu Ghraib have been court-martialed for the heinous acts they were ordered to and urged to perform on detainees. These soldiers, sons and daughters from decent, ordinary American families, are serving life sentences for betraying their oath. It is time that their leaders who ordered them to betray their oath face the music. No one gets a pass just because they are high up.

These leaders not only consider themselves above the law, but above the United States. We need to prosecute them to reaffirm who we are as Americans. We are not vicious torturers. These people have no place in our city on the hill.

In September, the Massachusetts School of Law hosted a conference that resulted in ordinary American citizens coming together and forming a Steering Committee to develop the political will and the actual prosecution of these high-level civilians and military leaders. We ask all persons of goodwill to join us in this effort.

The range of actions we encourage are:

1) impeaching President George Bush before he leaves office particularly if prior to leaving office he tries to pardon himself and those who have done his bidding in violation of United States law. In the absence of that impeachment and consistent with precedent we should impeach him after he leaves office for crimes committed. Impeachment would ensure that President Bush could not hold any federal office on commission etc. for the rest of his life.

2) impeaching Judge Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit. Judge Bybee signed the infamous August 1, 2002 torture memo ascribed also to Professor John Yoo at the University of Berkeley School of Law. It shocks the conscience that a person who enabled torture is permitted to sit on a federal bench.

3) criminally prosecuting high-level civilians in state courts. The legendary Vincent Bugliosi knows how to do it.

4) criminally prosecuting civilian and military leaders in federal and military courts. There are 2700 state prosecutors across the country. American families all over have suffered the loss of a loved one or live with an injured member who served in wars started by President George Bush. Some of these families are willing to assist their state prosecutors in seeking criminal trials. If a sufficient number of these cases are brought forth, a federal prosecutor might initiate a prosecution, notwithstanding Attorney General Mukasey’s unwillingness to faithfully execute our federal laws with regard to criminal prosecution of these leaders.

5) removing from academia former Bush administration officials who created and put in place the torture policies and practices. Ordering and abetting torture has nothing to do with academic freedom.

6) encouraging, to the extent courts allow, “citizen prosecutors” to exercise citizen mandamus and step in to prosecute where their state or federal prosecutors have failed to act. This was attempted recently in Minnesota to permit a citizen arrest of President Bush for murder if he came into St. Paul to attend the Republican Convention.

7) organizing peaceful civil actions that convey to those holding the levers of power in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches that we intend to vindicate United States law and United States international obligations and hold them accountable.

8) Seeking assistance from foreign and international tribunals to make sure that these perpetrators serve time for their crimes.

It is abundantly clear that President George Bush ordered torture. By dehumanizing others through torture and murder he dehumanizes America and Americans. Criminal prosecution is a viable means to demonstrate the importance for Americans of the most basic rules of US and international law. Let the world know that we are not barbarians.

BENJAMIN G. DAVIS is an Association Professor of Law at the University of Toledo School of Law.

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
February 21, 2018
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail