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Torture Is a Crime That Must Be Punished

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Posted on Apr 10, 2009

By Eugene Robinson

    It’s no longer possible to mince words, or pretend we didn’t know. The International Committee of the Red Cross concluded in a secret report that the Bush administration’s so-called enhanced interrogation methods, used on “high-value” terrorism suspects, plainly constituted torture. The time for euphemisms is over and the time for accountability has arrived.

    The Red Cross report—published this week in its entirety for the first time by The New York Review of Books—is a stunning account of how the Bush administration spat on our laws, traditions and ideals. I realize that many Americans, given the scope of the economic crisis and the ambitions of the new administration, would rather look forward than revisit the past. The business of torture, however, is too unspeakable to be left unfinished.

    After years of stonewalling, the Bush administration in October 2006 allowed the Red Cross to interview 14 Guantanamo detainees who had previously been held and interrogated in the CIA’s secret prisons. Among them were several men who almost certainly played major roles in planning and executing the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshib. Others, such as Abu Zubaydah, now seem to have had less involvement in the attacks than once believed.

    The 14 men told remarkably similar stories. After being arrested—whether in Pakistan, Dubai, Thailand or Djibouti—they were blindfolded, shackled and flown to an interrogation center that all of them identified as being in Afghanistan. This was probably the prison facility at the U.S.-run Bagram Air Base north of Kabul. Twelve of the 14 said they were tortured.

    Three of the detainees reported being subjected to suffocation by water—the torture known as waterboarding. Abu Zubaydah’s account of the experience is quoted at length in the report: “I was put on what looked like a hospital bed, and strapped down very tightly with belts. A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. After a few minutes the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into an upright position. The pressure of the straps on my wounds caused severe pain. I vomited. The bed was then again lowered to a horizontal position and the same torture carried out.”

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    Ten of the detainees said they were forced to stand in an excruciatingly painful position for days at a time, with their hands chained to a bar above their heads. If you don’t believe that’s torture, try it—and see if you last five minutes. One detainee, Walid Bin Attash, has an artificial leg, which he said his CIA jailers sometimes removed to make the “stress standing position” more agonizing.

    Nine of the men said they were subjected to daily beatings in the first weeks of their detention. Abu Zubaydah said he was sometimes confined for long periods in boxes designed to constrict his movement—one of them tall and narrow, the other so short that he could only squat in an awkward and painful position.

    According to the report, some of the tortures were aided and abetted by “health personnel” whom the detainees believed were doctors or psychologists.

    This is barbarity with an ugly sheen of bureaucracy. Mohammed told the Red Cross that before he was waterboarded, one of his CIA interrogators bragged of having received “the green light from Washington” to give the prisoner “a hard time.” Who, precisely, was in the chain of command that gave the order for torture?

    Who are the “health personnel” who monitored the suffocation sessions and the “stress position” tortures, at times suggesting a pause or a resumption of the agony? Who are the CIA torturers? Who are the Air Force officers who might have disapproved of what the CIA was doing but took no steps to stop it?

    I have believed all along that we urgently need to conduct a thorough investigation into the Bush administration’s moral and legal transgressions. Now I am convinced that some kind of “truth commission” process isn’t enough. Torture—even the torture of evil men—is a crime. It deserves not just to be known, but to be punished.

    From George W. Bush on down, individuals decided to sanction, commit and tolerate the practice of torture. They took pains to paper this vile enterprise with rationalizations and justifications, but they knew it was wrong. So do we.
   
    Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.
   
    © 2009, Washington Post Writers Group


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By psychology career, May 23, 2011 at 12:51 am Link to this comment

Two wrongs don’t make a right! Punishment for crimes of torture will not improve the victims health in the long term. Funding would be equally served to support the victim in to regaining ones life and opportunities. I am not suggesting the crime go unpunished, but our justice system often precludes the need of the victim. The victim or survivor should be the one who is considered a priority.

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By KDelphi, May 11, 2009 at 11:24 pm Link to this comment

fireball—Yes, lets become what we claim to be fighting…great idea.

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By fireball, May 10, 2009 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Your right.  We need to change our tactics on interrogation.  We need to behead the first one and then move down the line.  Just like they do.  Cause that’s not bad, like water boarding….

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By KDelphi, April 15, 2009 at 4:10 pm Link to this comment

Tony Wicher—You seem like a nice person and all (unless someone really criticizes Obama), but, that is precisely the problem.

You guys are always willing to take what you can get, and the Democratic party knows it.Maybe if more people demanded better, we would get better. But, the fear mongers would have you believe that we have to settle—-its better than (fill in the blank)

The embargo on Cuba is more than ridiculous. If the US is going to “change its attitude toward the world” why not start in our own hemisphere? I dont think that Pres. Obama will be able to charm them into believing Cuba is a threat, at the Summit of the Americas…its just bullshit, to get South Florida and Hank Williams Jr votes and money.

If we listen to DC on what we can “politically achieve” (what I just heard in the background on MSNBC—cant help it—AADD) we will get precisely what people who are willing to “settle” deserve.

Didnt you hear the crap about “populist uprising” and all the fear mongering? It is how they dismiss you. We all deserve better govt than we are getting, and, we will not get it with the duopoly…at some point, maybe the 60-70s generation will be too old to be afraid of the elite pundit class.

As it is, we have a dumbass protest in Texas and elsewhere about the WRONG THING!! They are too dumb to even know who their oppressors are. But, they got out there, didnt they? Bigger crowds than who protested the “wars”, that Pres. Obama is continuing…so the response is “but you got a tax cut”—-more like a bait and switch. After all that everyone gave Wall St, they should take the $250 and put it towards universal health care. Wall St should supply all of us with FREE health care for life!


Quote from Vladimir Ilyich Lenin  

“All our lives we fought against exalting the individual,
against the elevation of the single person,
and long ago we were over and done with the business of a hero,
and here it comes up again: the glorification of one personality.
This is not good at all.”

If you put all of your faith in one person, they have no choice but to let you down at some point…

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By mbfromhb, April 15, 2009 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment

i couldnt agree more!!!!!

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By Folktruther, April 15, 2009 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

Tony Wicher- well, that’s the bright side and you may be right.

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By Tony Wicher, April 15, 2009 at 12:20 am Link to this comment

By Folktruther, April 15 at 1:07 am #

His policy on Cuba, for example, is to continue the trade blockade and prevent the American people form visiting Cuba, under the guise of marginally changing Bushite policy.  His other policies are similar.
—————————————————————-
Folkie,

I’ll say I was disappointed that Obama didn’t just end the embargo. It does sound pretty stupid to me to say we should keep it because it will give us some kind of “leverage” over the Castro regime. But I’ll take what I can get. Looking on the bright side, I would say that he discreetly opened the door a crack, a lot more travel and commerce will be going on, and we can hope the embargo will pretty much phase out over the next few years, formally or informally.

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By Folktruther, April 14, 2009 at 10:07 pm Link to this comment

Handyman- thank you for your comment.  My remarks are part of a sequence of arguments with cann4ing, among others, and assume previous comments.  I am a class stuggle socialist and was jibing at cann4ing’s watery commitment to social democracy.

I don’t provide the facts because I knwo that cann4ing, who is very knowledgeable, knows them.  Cann4ing is the best of the Obama cheerleaders and has an absurd respect for the Law, he being a lawyer. But less respect for reason.  If Obama is continuing to commit the crimes of Bush, why on humanity’s formerly green earth would Holder appoint an independant committee to investigate them?

My basic concern is not really with political ignorance, not knowing, but with political denial, not wanting to know.  Obama cheerleaders do not want to know that Obama is essentially continuing the policies of Bush, using a liberal rhetoric.

His policy on Cuba, for example, is to continue the trade blockade and prevent the American people form visiting Cuba, under the guise of marginally changing Bushite policy.  His other policies are similar.

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By KDelphi, April 14, 2009 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment

This aint exactly torture, but, it aint good!

“Obama Administration Quietly Expands Bush’s Legal Defense of Warrantless Wiretapping”

By John Byrne, Raw Story. Posted April 8, 2009.

“In a legal filing on Friday, Obama lawyers claimed the government is shielded from lawsuits by a ‘sovereign immunity’ clause in the Patriot Act…”

In a stunning defense of President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program, President Barack Obama has broadened the government’s legal argument for immunizing his Administration and government agencies from lawsuits surrounding the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping efforts.

In fact, a close read of a government filing last Friday reveals that the Obama Administration has gone beyond any previous legal claims put forth by former President Bush.

Responding to a lawsuit filed by a civil liberties group, the Justice Department argued that the government was protected by “sovereign immunity” from lawsuits because of a little-noticed clause in the Patriot Act. The government’s legal filing can be read here (PDF).

at the AlterNet site:
http://www.alternet.org/rights/135605/obama_administration_quietly_expands_bush’s_legal_defense_of_warrantless_wiretapping/


Other stories at AlterNet


“Why Doesn’t CIA Director Leon Panetta Want Torture iInvestigation?”

“‘These People Fear Prosecution’: Why Bush’s CIA Team Should Worry About Its Dark Embrace of Torture”
Liliana Segura (see below)

“Why Spain Can Actually Prosecute Bush and Co. for Their Crimes”
Marjorie Cohn

Further (I hope its true)


Further:http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/04/14-2

The Bush Six to Be Indicted
Spanish prosecutors will seek criminal charges against Alberto Gonzales and five high-ranking Bush administration officials for sanctioning torture at Guantánamo.
by Scott Horton

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By AFriend, April 13, 2009 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment

cyrena,


Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.

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By cann4ing, April 13, 2009 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

By Folktruther, April 13 at 2:35 pm #

Cann4ing- How can the Obama regieme prosecute the Bushites for looting the people,  torture, kidnapping, arbitrary imprisonment, and murder when the Obama regime is still committing the crimes?
________________________

Assuming, arguendo, that what you say is true, Folktruther (& as usual you neglect to provide links or evidence to support it), the appropriate course is for AG Holder to appoint a special prosecutor, which is what Democrats.Com has done at the site I linked to in my Brad.Blog piece.

Those who are interested in democracy and the rule of law, if they have not already done so, should sign that petition at

http://www.democrats.com/special-prosecutor-for-bush-war-crimes

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By rico, suave, April 13, 2009 at 3:10 pm Link to this comment

Getting back to Robinson’s original article- What other country in the non-Western, non-liberal/democratic world would have allowed Eugene Robinson to publish this?

Anyone?

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By TheHandyman, April 13, 2009 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment

folktruther, your points to canning might be more salient if you provided some facts along with your rhetoric. Can you tell us exactly how you think Obama is continuing to do all the same things as Bush? I see no difference between what Geithner is doing and what Paulson proposed which is disgraceful. I see Obama’s attempt to shift the War to Afghanistan as merely a contination of Bush’s misguided policies and it is going to result in more US enemies. But in other areas Obama has not continued Bush’s policies, such as travel to Cuba, closing of Guantanamo, dialogue with Iran, and giving the people at guantanamo trials.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with being for socialism. The latest polls say that some 601% of Americans think that socialism is a better way of life than is Capitalism. Unless you are trying to scare people with the Russian or Chinese brand of socialism, which is a misnomer, socialism is nothing more than people accomplishing together that which they couldnot accomplish on their own. It is that type of socialism that got Americans the 40 hour week, 8 hour work day, paid holidays, sick leave, overtime pay and decent working conditions. And there are people who in the guise of protecting America wold love to see those things taken away. Are you one of them?

So if you are going to attempt to demean or ridicule someone, do your home work, don’t just shoot from the lip!

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By Freya, April 13, 2009 at 11:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think there is no doubt about the media’s clear and complicit participation in the purveyance of torture.  I’m developing a keen awareness of the way in which the corporate media shapes the reality and history of the United States.  Another great resource is this episode of The Joan Kenley Show (progressive Bay Area podcast)called The Media: What’s True, What’s Not.  Joan Kenley talks to Norman Solomon of The Institute for Public Accuracy, and Peter B. Collins, a broadcaster whose show was #1 in the nation during the watergate scandal.  They talk candidly about the bias in mainstream media and I think the information there is important in the quest for informed citizenship.

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By Folktruther, April 13, 2009 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

Cann4ing- How can the Obama regieme prosecute the Bushites for looting the people,  torture, kidnapping, arbitrary imprisonment, and murder when the Obama regime is still committing the crimes?  And Obama is committing the crimes because they are part of the Bushite nooliberalism and the War on Terroism.

He’s abolished the rhetoric.  No more War on Terrorism or Unlawful Combatants.  And he looks and sounds really good on tv.  Apparently that’s good enough for your kind of-heh, heh, heh,- socialist.

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By ender, April 13, 2009 at 9:50 am Link to this comment

The Bush family has a long history of serious criminality.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/document/document_20070723.shtml

Prescott Bush was the bag man for an attempted coup to remove FDR from power and install a fascist gov’t under the direct control of bankers such as Herbert Walker (Shrubs namesake) and the captains of industry such as the Fords.

The Savings and Loan debacle orchestrated by Neil Bush cost taxpayers at least $180Billion and resulted in jail terms for the Keating Five, but not for Neil

Do you see the pattern here?  The Bush family thinks they are above the law and the American taxpayer is here to fill their personal financial coffers.

No American court will ever bring them to trial.  The only chance any of the DickBushRummyRove Axis of Evil will every face any consequences for their deeds is if an internation war crimes Tribunal is convened at the Hague, and Shrub and crew have been bagged by the Justice Dept. before the intention to bring them to trial is made public.

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By cann4ing, April 13, 2009 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

Prosecute or Perish

Why the survival of our Constitutional Democracy may hinge on factually justified criminal prosecutions of the Bush/Cheney cabal…

“It will remain one of democracy’s best jokes that it provided its deadly enemies with the means by which it was destroyed.” - Joseph Goebbels

“Unless the rule of law is restored and applied to the Bush/Cheney cabal, the next time around our constitutional democracy could be lost, forever. The survival of the republic mandates nothing less than criminal investigations and prosecutions not only of war crimes and financial crimes but “crimes against democracy,” an apt phrase that should be applied to voter suppression, illegal manipulation of election results and the attempted misuse of the Justice Department to gain partisan advantage.”

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7013

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By Outraged, April 13, 2009 at 1:09 am Link to this comment

This post goes out to Dwight Baker:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p86BPM1GV8M

We are not so very different as at first you may suppose.  Consider kindness, my friend as our overriding connection.  Not the wishy-washy BS we are fed…. but kindness for our own sake.

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By Outraged, April 13, 2009 at 12:35 am Link to this comment

Re: diamond

Your comment: “This suitcase had terrorist manuals -very important when you’re travelling- and United Airlines uniforms and this list. The FBI played games with the list and altered it to other names, seven of whom are dead. Mohammed Atta, alleged hijacker, was not listed on the passenger manifest of any flight flying on 9/11 but he left the suitcase at that airport and the FBI knew just where to look. As you do.”,

Yeah…. it certainly seems COMPLETELY viable to me…. I mean of course that if I were a terrorist, truly I would drop this shit RIGHT IN THE FBI’S LAP, so that it would be easily accessible…. of course I would…., I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In this regard, we revert back to the “shadow government”, which appears somewhat “injured” but more “happily” alive and well…. crippled although obviously one of the many “working” cripples.

Re: Tony Wicher

Your comment: “Our intelligence services and the Pentagon are both vehemently resisting investigations of the crimes of the Bush administration. I believe this is because these investigations would uncover worse crimes than torture, such as high treason and mass murder.”

This certainly appears to be the case.  Investigations can be such nasty business….eh..?

Re: cyrena

I’m with you all the way.  Giver’ hell. Oh, that’s just “redneck” speak for “you go girl”.  I’m right behind ya’....or alongside ya’....it don’t make no never mind to me.  LOL.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0S2zkh6ZOGE

Remember Eisenhower words: “I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it”

He also said, “Don’t join the book burners. Do not think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.”

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/dwight_d_eisenhower.html

An extraordinary man.

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By TheHandyman, April 13, 2009 at 12:03 am Link to this comment

The notion that Obama has too many other crisi? to handle an investigation is ridiculous. Presidents don’t investigate each and everything themselves. Obama should tell the AG to appoint a prosecutor to investigate the Who, When, Where, How, and Why of the tortures and let that prosecutor go where ever and to whomever it leads.

The reason why this hasn’t and probably won’t happen is that Congress people like Feinstein, Harmon, Rockafeller, Clinton, and other Democrats who sat on the Intelligence and other select committees signed off on the torture. That would make them accessories and would make them culpable to the crimes. Obama isn’t about to do anything that will hurt his own party which shows not only what kind of person he is but also what kind of human he is.

The notion that this is about leaving the past and concentrating on the future is a smoke screen. As evil and criminal as Bush and his enablers were, there were also Demowon’ts who are just as guilty and who should be punished. As much as I don’t believe in a Great Imaginary Being, I hope there is one for the people who sold out their good Christian conscience and that that Being will somehow show them the error of their ways. Personally, I would prefer a Nuremburg Trials sort of event for all the people who instigated the torture, approved the torture, and carried out the torture, even under orders because they at least, should have known better!

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By cyrena, April 12, 2009 at 10:09 pm Link to this comment

•  “Among them were several men who almost certainly played major roles in planning and executing the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshib.”

This is part is actually debatable Eugene, because we honestly don’t KNOW that these men “…almost certainly played major roles in the planning and executing of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks…” I’m not saying that to get into any long and detailed conversation on the events of that day, but only to say that the only thing we DO know has come from these people who have been tortured, (and from the ICRC Report, which is unprecedented in its publication, since the ICRC always keeps these reports classified – it’s just part of their mandate in terms of maintaining political objectivity.)

And, BECAUSE of the TORTURE, absolutely NONE of the information from them can be relied on as valid in any legitimate investigation/prosecution of those responsible for the terrorist events of 9/11.

Literally ALL of the information we’ve received in terms of the events of 9/11 have come from the former political regime on duty at the time of the attacks. THEY told us how it supposedly all happened, but absolutely none of it has been verified. One of the best ways to verify what actually happened and who (if any) Arab/Muslim/Middle Eastern/Islamic/etc extremists were involved would have been to talk to them without the torture. Any information they may or may not have been able to provide has been totally lost/compromised because of the torture. One does get to wonder if that might not have been the point all along, eh?

KSM has managed to ‘confess’ to everything under the sun, the moon, and all the rest of the stars in the galaxy. There can be no denial, (at least of a sane person) that many of the ‘crimes’ and other activities he’s ‘confessed’ to would require that he be a supernatural being. (how many places on the globe can one person be at a time?) The same is true of the other torture victims. Jose Padilla, (an American BTW) had his entire psyche turned to pure mush. His mind has ceased to exist, and we can only wonder how that must be for him, just as I often try to relate to whatever mental pain the victims of Alzheimer’s or any other mental disorder might be experiencing. But there are a limited number of experts who have actually been able to work with the victims of torture to break though the many sorts of psychosis result from torture, and the multiple techniques and methods that have been used.

Having said that, none of it takes away from the main point of your argument, which is that these people who participated in the torture must be held accountable. They’ve euphemism-ed us to death, (thanks in part to John Yoo and that Bybee guy from the OLC) who did everything in their twisted minds as they could possibly come up with, to find a way to call this something other than what it is. TORTURE!

~~~
Law and Torture
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML

“…participating in official torture anywhere in the world. The torture treaty applies even under “a state of war or a threat of war,” by the plain language of ...”

spirit.tau.ac.il/government/Wedgwood_article2.pdf -
by R WEDGWOOD –
This site is always helpful as well…probably should be the first or primary source for information on the various treaties and conventions against torture.

United Nations Human Rights Website - Treaty Bodies Database ...
File Format: Rich Text Format - View as HTML

United Nations Human Rights Website - Treaty Bodies Database - Document ... Conclusions and Recommendations of the Committee against Torture : http://www.justice.gov.il/NR/.../UnitedNationsHumanRightsWebsiteTreatyBodiesDatabaseDoc

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By cyrena, April 12, 2009 at 10:04 pm Link to this comment

2 of 2

Anyway, you’re right. It’s time to prosecute these criminals. We need something exactly like the Nuremburg Trials, and I don’t much care what they call them, or even where they are held, though the Hague is the most reasonable place for this activity. I don’t even care who gets them first; the IL Community or the US Justice Dept, or the Iraqis, or the Afghans, or whomever wants them.

Here in my neighborhood, the ultimate ambition is to be a part of the prosecution team that does Dick Cheney in. We think he should have his own separate trial for the crime of torture, and everybody wants to be on the prosecution team. First time in my life I’ve ever wanted to represent the prosecution side of any trial or similar negotiation. I’ve already assembled, (in my dream world of course) the perfect prosecution team. His side better stock up on plenty of batteries for that gadget that keeps his alleged heart pumping…. Like industrial sized energizers or something.

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By Tony Wicher, April 12, 2009 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment

It’s good to hear Robinson take such a strong stand. Our intelligence services and the Pentagon are both vehemently resisting investigations of the crimes of the Bush administration. I believe this is because these investigations would uncover worse crimes than torture, such as high treason and mass murder.

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By rico, suave, April 12, 2009 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

Torture is a Crime That Must be Punished!!!!


WITH TORTURE!!!!

hahahahahahaha

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By marriea, April 12, 2009 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment

Thanks much DIAMOND, the info was very helpful.
It still doesn’t alter my view of Cheney and Bush however

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By diamond, April 12, 2009 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment

Marriea, the FBI found a list! Yes, it’s true. It was left for them at an airport in a suitcase by Mohammed Atta. It was supposed to be put on Flight 11 when he boarded but it didn’t get put on the plane, which is a pretty good clue that he didn’t either. This suitcase had terrorist manuals -very important when you’re travelling- and United Airlines uniforms and this list. The FBI played games with the list and altered it to other names, seven of whom are dead. Mohammed Atta, alleged hijacker, was not listed on the passenger manifest of any flight flying on 9/11 but he left the suitcase at that airport and the FBI knew just where to look. As you do.

In April 2006, a former FBI agent explained that the baggage, being at the airport in Portland, Maine, and not on the fatal flight was the sole source for the names the FBI put on its list of hijackers.
‘How do you think the government was able to identify all 19 hijackers almost immediately after the attacks? They were identified through those papers in the luggage. And that’s how it was known so soon that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks.’
Hani Hanjour only made it on to the lost by default: the original name on the list was Mosear Caned but it was altered to Hani Hanjour. No one but the FBI knows why.

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By rollzone, April 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

hello. yes of course i meant also the innocents; they are casualties of war. if you do not wish to play: become a refugee. people make choices. torture is the result of many poor personal decisions in a continuing exhibition of unrelenting stupidity. name, rank, and serial number applies to willing participants in a war game. breaking the spirit of your enemy may be just an ego trip: but stupid people do stupid things. as a last resort in an emergency to save countless lives… now who knows drama? do not play unless you are willing to pay.

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By jmndodge, April 12, 2009 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

Morality demands justice…

Tragically the decline in our moral presence in the world goes along with the rise of the influence of the Christian right in American Politics. While preachers in every Christian denomination, as well as the teachers and preachers of many other faiths, have always spoken out about issues of grace, truth, justice, poverty, war, peace, and personal conduct the prophetic voice of the church was taken over by a political action group within the churches.  Calling themselves the moral majority, the focused on being anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-drug, and pro Republican.  There was no critique of the war, of the torcher, the empirical ambition, or greed of our society.  There was no lobby in support of the poor, the hungry or homeless, or those needing health care.  Prison reform meant harsher sentences, and overcrowded prisons.  In the silence, we lost the healing balm of truth, and in the blindness of failed leadership ordinary citizens allowed their nation to be lead by criminals, cheats, and greedy powerful institutions.  It’s time for healing to begin.  The truth of the crimes must be exposed.  The criminal must be prosecuted and justice restored.  The idolatry of religious/political blending must stop.  Religious leaders, Christian and non-Christian must again teach truth, justice and grace,  and the ordinary citizen once again expect and hope for truth and justice in a nation of free citizens.

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By marriea, April 12, 2009 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

One thing I have never understood, the ‘terrorist’ people that our government reported to have captured, how did they know who they were?, how did they get their names, where they lived, the country in which they resided in the first place.  Our government was reportily clueless about the attack, didn’t believe/know it would happen, didn’t know who was responsible, but surprisingly was able to identify the ones who were on the planes after they had been burned to a crisp but still couldn’t identify some our own citizens on the plane until a later date.
Now obviously these guys didn’t announce to the airlines who they were, I’m pretty sure that any passports were fake, I have never been able to get it.
If our FBI/CIA was so efficient afterwards, why not before?  And why no heads rolled. Geo Tenet was rewarded afterwards.
Until those questions can be answered, I will always believe our government was responsible for 9-11 and that Cheney and Bush committed treason against this country.

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By Folktruther, April 12, 2009 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

As Diamand has stated, the public mainstream truth is opposed to the unmentionalble reality-based truth.  Obama, like Bush,  has stated tht the USA does not torture, while tortured is being carried out by the USA.

Torture is an essential part of the War on Terrorism, to subdue that active part of the occupied population.  Obama is continuing, indeed escalating, the Bushite War on Terrorism while abolishing the rhetoric. And indefinite and arbitrary imprisonment, wiretapping, and syying on the American population as well.  While the mainstream media, including the Progressive media, keeps saying that he has abolished it.

He cannot prosecute the Bushites for torture or other crimes while he is continuing them.  First, it is necessary to stop the barbaric crimes before he can accuse his predecessor of them.  But he is already complicit in them.  The public use of torture is part of the political counter revolution that the Bushites have successfully installed.  As is murder squads, arbitrary imprisonment, torute, etc.

Obam is leading the US further into barbarism, the necessary attribute to increased class inequality.  In order to steal, it is necessary to lie and murder.  And this is part of the policy of Bush-0Obama.  Obama introducing a kinder, gentler kind of rhetoric to conceal, disguise and justify it.

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By KDelphi, April 12, 2009 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

rollzone—yes, and, you must be pre-supposing that anyone who is tortured is “guilty”. And you must apply it to USAns also. (If they are guilty , they should be tortured also)

Torture annd the death penalty are both options that civillized countries reject as primitivism..

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By rollzone, April 12, 2009 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

hello. torture is great. every criminal knows when entering a dubious operation, that if you chose to play: you must be willing to pay. do the crime if you are willing to do the time. the commitment to evil must be so complete, and the reward so great, that if you are caught: you are willing to be tortured to the death; without giving up your comrades. anyone surviving torture was not tortured correctly. if an enemy cannot provide valuable information, they become a liability. may God have mercy on their soul.

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By peterjkraus, April 12, 2009 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

I vividly remember grade school in Los Angeles, 1950, getting my little nine-year old German immigrant ass kicked from the same group of kids almost every day who heard “it could never happen here” from teachers, and who repeated it during the ass-kicking.

I thought it was part of life in the home of the California Übermensch. I´ve known differently for a long time now, and the hypocrisy still pains me. The American theory is great: freedom, justice, refuge, et cetera. The American reality is often painful to accept.

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By everynobody, April 12, 2009 at 8:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By Purple Girl, April 12 at 7:51 am #

I know you don’t respond to comments, but you’re wrong; you grossly overestimate America’s commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

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By Purple Girl, April 12, 2009 at 4:51 am Link to this comment

Our three Female Correspondants being held on spying in Irna and N.Korea are in grave danger.
Switch scenario’s for a moment- the types of tortured used on those prisoners now being utilized on these three women.The waterboarding, the Sexual humiliation, the stress inducing techniques.
Had these acts been committed on females- Americans would have gone ballistic.And there would have been immediate concerns about Rape.
We have far more profound reactions to the abuse of women. These Two other cultures Do Not. In fact women are not only second class citizens, they are often viewed as disposable possessions. So should we expect they would think there would be little reaction from US as to their Treatment, or even their execution? When adultry will get a man thrown in prison,But a Woman Stoned to death?
These 3 cases are the time to draw the line. It will be of little use to have Hillary demand their release- they have no regard for women no matter what their title. We must not only have Obama demand their release, but also our Top Military Men. This will send the Clear message that we will not stand for abuses against Any of our citizens, because we are willing to put forth all efforts ‘even’ for ‘mere’ females.
The Bush admin put our captured armed services personnel,and our citizens in grave danger, but those who will suffer the most will be the females imprisoned in nations who consider females of no real value.

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By Outraged, April 11, 2009 at 11:52 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Mr. Robinson.  This complete and utter violation of human rights and criminal violation of law needs to be accounted, regardless of the station of those who endorsed it.

To read the report is to see not only the injustice and violence of this ideology but is also to serve as a CALL TO ACTION of the populous.

It is difficult to read, although all the more reason to do it.  Your tax dollars at work.

International Red Cross Committee’s report:

http://www.nybooks.com/icrc-report.pdf

Is this who “WE” are?

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By pink floyd, April 11, 2009 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The solution for Obama is to let the world courts which deal with war-crimes know that we will not punish them if they go ahead and perform their designated role.

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By diamond, April 11, 2009 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

I saw an article in the paper yesterday in which Leon Panetta said the CIA people who carried out the torture can’t be prosecuted bacause the Bush administration had declared what they were doing legal. The truth is they can’t prosecute the illegal wiretapping or the torture or any of it. They say all roads lead to Rome but in this case all roads lead to 9/11 and to the top of the Pentagon, the top of the CIA and the top of the Bush administration. There are people involved who are unelected (and indeed unelectable) big swinging dicks. If they start investigating anything they’ll have to investigate everything and this is something that doesn’t even stop at America’s borders.  Without an investigation there will still be two truths -the public truth to be found in the mainstream media and political discourse and the other truth, the unmentionable truth. It’s all a bit like the Catholic Church telling Galileo that the sun revolved around the earth, even though his own eyes told him that the earth revolved around the sun. And that’s the point of course. To stop the truth getting out at all costs.Investigating torture or wiretapping would open a very nasty can of worms that would tear the political fabric of America to shreds. Which is exactly what needs to happen. Whether it can happen until the financial situation stabilizes is another question. It’s one of the most disgraceful elements of the 9/11 Commission Report that they claimed it was unimportant who funded the attacks and didn’t investigate what happened on share markets in the week before 9/11. It would have exposed Wall Street’s underbelly so it couldn’t happen but it just might have cleaned up the mess before it took the global economy down with it. There’s much more to all this than some ‘rogue elements’ torturing people because a ‘rogue president’ said it was all right.

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By freedom loving american, April 11, 2009 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

Torture is a war that must be punished.  But wait isn’t war profiteering a war crime and isn’t destroying a country killing millions and ruining many more millions lives some type of crime also? Isn’t it a crime to run secret prisons and contract the torturing out to others?  But then isn’t a crime to use illegal to wiretaps and imprison innocent citizens? Then we don’t want to get into the illegal and illegitimate backroom politics that create the financial fiasco we are in, but those are crimes as well. 

Yes, we need to prosecute those that tortured and those that ordered the torture to take place. But when “We The People” supposedly twice elected the most incompetent, corrupt, foul, vile, leader ever to be elected in any democracy we own it to our posterity and to the world to prosecute the bush cabal for all their crimes.  We also need to make sure the republicans can no longer rig the elections. 

Happy Easter Bunny Day

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By bcc, April 11, 2009 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While some of our treatment of prisoners constitutes torture that should be codified as illegal this issue is being overemphasized. There are bigger fish to fry. I agree with Buddhist philosophy stating that evil is that which causes an increase in the suffering of living things. This can be quantified to an extent. While waterboarding, sexual humiliation, and other extreme discomforts are torture they do not rise to the level of atrocity and suffering that has occurred in other periods of history. Particularly considering that only hundreds of individuals were likely involved. On the other hand we do clearly have massive levels of human suffering on the Iraqi population and our soldiers, that was perpetrated by the Bush Administration through an illegal war started with a deliberate campaign of lies and distortion. That is the primary crime here. Going after Bush for torture policy is somewhat equivalent to prosecuting the Mafia for tax evasion in that it is only useful if needed to bring them to justice.

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By cann4ing, April 11, 2009 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

Check out “Prosecute or Perish”

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7013

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By everynobody, April 11, 2009 at 5:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Most of us still don’t get it; no one will be prosecuted for any of the crimes of the Bush administration. It’s the good old boys club who have finally admitted persons of color, as long as they behave themselves. Sad but true; please prove me wrong, can you?

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By Wally Wolf, April 10, 2009 at 9:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Either torture is against the law or it’s legal.  You can’t have it both ways.  If the people who broke the law by torturing prisoners are not brought to justice, than wire tapping, going 10 miles over the speed limit, drunk driving, and overgrown grass should also be ignored.  Either we’re a nation of laws or we’re not.  Do we as citizens get to pick and choose what laws to accept and what laws to ignore?

I realize that president Obama has more than he can handle right now and he’s trying to get everything done in a bipartisan manner, but he can’t let the republicans tie his hands in order to get their cooperation.

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By Juanjo, April 10, 2009 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment

How sad that something so evil and heinous as torturing people doesn’t make each and everyone of you aware of your shared responsibility for supporting a system of arrogance, greed and selfishness.

The world keeps changing and what goes around comes around. Soon, every member of the Bush administration won’t be able to go anywhere outside this country.

Bush, Pinochet, Videla… Every pig gets to become bacon and ham before they fry in hell.

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By calitatum, April 10, 2009 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment

I would like the author to consider the treatment of the men and women who are living in horrible conditions over there. My siblings have served. My brother said dogs in the USA are given better shelter, food and more water. I am not worried as much about prisoners as I am our sisters and brothers who serve us so well.

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By Inherit The Wind, April 10, 2009 at 5:02 pm Link to this comment

I heard this today:
If torture is now illegal how come the President has to live with his mother-in-law, even in the White House?

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By jackpine savage, April 10, 2009 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi,

You nailed it.  The same goes for warrantless wiretapping…maybe more so because there’s evidence (lost the link) that Clinton was doing it in the late 90’s (War on Drugs).

But the faithful march along with a pocket full of excuses for Democrats doing the same things that Republicans do.

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By pink floyd, April 10, 2009 at 11:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

godistwaddle-  It’s the approved practice of the victor writing the history books. If Pres Obama want to make this country more functional, he can start by insisting that history texts bought by school districts for grades 7-12 contain at least some degree of accuracy and objectivity. For kids to have made-up facts drilled into their heads (re~War of 1812, Nagasaki, Gen. Sherman, Vietnam), with the intent of preparing future flag-waving robots to wage economic or physical war on the rest of humanity, is unforgivable.

The teachers who knowingly feed this crap to their students (most “teachers”) need to be recognized as the predators they are.

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By KDelphi, April 10, 2009 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

I notice that, per usual, there is no mention of the assertion that Reps Pelosi, Harmon and others, had full knowledge of what was being done.

I think that Congress is afraid that it will come out that the Dems not only knew about it, but, many were involved in crafting the policies,

“Late last year, Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen published articles in the Washington Post confirming that current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Representative Jane Harman, and Senators Bob Graham and John D. Rockefeller, all Democrats, were briefed on the techniques then being employed by the CIA. They were furthermore briefed on the existence of tapes documenting this torture. It is extremely unlikely that Levin, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was deprived of this information…

...After the Democrats had achieved majorities in both legislative houses, the Senate voted in November 2007 to confirm Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general, with the support of several Democrats. The major issue in Mukasey’s nomination was his refusal to condemn waterboarding as torture.”

Levin concluded (a) lecture at the University of Michigan by urging students opposed to torture to vote for Democratic candidates in the upcoming elections. “If you’re against torture,” said Levin, “you know who you need to elect.”

On the contrary, anyone horrified by the practice of torture by the US government should place no confidence in the Democratic Party to put an end to it, and should reject attempts by Levin and other Democrats to distance themselves publicly from crimes for which they share responsibility. On every fundamental question facing workers and students in the 2008 elections, the Democratic and Republican candidates stand in agreement.

Feb. 27, 2008


http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/feb2008/levi-f27.shtml

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By Rich Kurth, April 10, 2009 at 11:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

From today’s The Daily Beast:
Are Republicans Blackmailing Obama?
by Scott Horton

If the president releases the Bush torture memos, Republicans are promising to “go nuclear” and filibuster his legal appointments. Scott Horton reports on a serious threat to Obama’s transparency.

Senate Republicans are now privately threatening to derail the confirmation of key Obama administration nominees for top legal positions by linking the votes to suppressing critical torture memos from the Bush era. A reliable Justice Department source advises me that Senate Republicans are planning to “go nuclear” over the nominations of Dawn Johnsen as chief of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice and Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh as State Department legal counsel if the torture documents are made public. The source says these threats are the principle reason for the Obama administration’s abrupt pullback last week from a commitment to release some of the documents. A Republican Senate source confirms the strategy. It now appears that Republicans are seeking an Obama commitment to safeguard the Bush administration’s darkest secrets in exchange for letting these nominations go forward.

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By Rayven, April 10, 2009 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

Good day Eugene, and once again another “factual, thought provoking, and “on point” article discussing the “vileness” of the previous administration! I have downloaded the report, and as angry and appalled as anyone who reads the report! What we have known for sometime, has now been further proved by this report….the bush administration “tortured” people.

They threw the values and ideals our country “is supposed to stand for” out the door, and into the garbage can. My goodness, if Bush and various people in his administration are not brought to justice (prosecuted), then the international court in the Hague and “our justice” system have no validity and therefore is unjust…period.

I am a “firm” supported of president Obama, and was thrilled by the confirmation of AJ Holder, but if they do not bring justice to we the American people….then they cannot say “change has truly come”.

People wonder why our country have been disliked/not trusted/called out on our lies…..look no further for reasons then the “vile” actions of the previous administration(s), our country’s foreign policies, and of allying ourselves with an actual “terrorist government the Israelis.

Every American should be ashamed and appalled at the actions of the Bush administration, and are so called “staunch” ally Israel. “Our my comments in anyway obtuse, and a lie….
I welcome anyone to prove me wrong in my assessment. Until then I will not have any group, conservative, right wing political parties, or “American ally’s” insult my intelligence with their lies….“I refuse to believe the pathetic hype/lies.

Thanks again Eugene, and have a great Easter weekend!

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By mryarbles, April 10, 2009 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

I’m not a lawyer, but would it be possible to extend any statute of limitations, so we could prosecute these people after/if this financial fiasco subsides?

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By mud, April 10, 2009 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

“must be punished”
So hold your breath until it is.

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By grumpynyker, April 10, 2009 at 9:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I suggest that the Obama administration seize all the major television networks, TORTURE Television.  Should be commercial-free, uninterrupted torture of the people cheerleading the invasion/occupation of Irag/Afghanistan-Pakistan-from neo-cons like Wolfowitz, Krystal, Feith, Abrams, to Cheney, Powell, Rice, Clinton.  The host should ask these war criminals questions on their roles; use waterboarding to stress positions to get answers.  Also find out whether they personally profited; strip them and family members of all assets.

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By diogenes, April 10, 2009 at 9:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Among them were several men who almost certainly played major roles in planning and executing the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks…”

Please cite indictments, after all they remain innocent until proven guilty, but, of course this is what the “enhanced interrogation” was all about.


You are playing right into the role of gatekeeper by repeating unwarranted accusations.

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By xypher, April 10, 2009 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

We are a nation of laws (that are enforced on some and not the privileged few). Bush and the first GOP crime was stealing the election. Once they got away with that they went on the worst crime spree in history, making Al Capone look like Mr. Rogers.

Disgusting!

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By MSZ713, April 10, 2009 at 7:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would question whether these criminals knew what they were doing was wrong. They have no moral compass. They may have sought to present a legal justification to protect themselves, but they believed our country’s laws were mere inconveniences.

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By David, April 10, 2009 at 6:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Unitary Executive(dictator) has spoken and he has said NO!  Now just drop it!

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By Jim Yell, April 10, 2009 at 6:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I object to those who infer that Americans have some sort of monopoly on hypocrisy. Nor is it a little thing that our European ancestors survived the hostile elements and the often strong attacks of the historic populations of the Americas. Sometimes these were defensive attacks, but not always.

I regret the times that we made peace and then did not live up to our words, but all together we have evolved in our view of the process by which we became the dominant people of the Americas. We by no means must accomodate other peoples, new arrivals, but we do need to do a better job of living with the aboriginal populations that we displaced.

But let us move on to the question about torture. It was clear at the time that Bush/Cheney forced the issue of torture onto the nation that it was in conflict with our supposed understanding of what we are as a people. They bullyed the country into looking the other way if not to actively support torture and the most horrible thing of all is George Bush, constantly claiming that only he could define what torture is or is not.

From this it is clear that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield and others should be in jail right now waiting for their trials for “crimes against humanity”, right along with the Pirates of Somalia and other trash.

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By Kesey Seven, April 10, 2009 at 5:50 am Link to this comment

Take heart. The person who is ultimately responsible for the torture, George W. Bush, is in fine health and likely to live for another 40 years. That’s plenty of time for the world to decide he deserves prosecution. We may see him at The Hague yet.

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By photoshock, April 10, 2009 at 4:53 am Link to this comment

If one were to take a picture of the past administration’s use of ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques, we could all draw the comparison between the Japanese and German use of torture in World War II.
I take exception to the stance of the Obama administration that we need to look forward and not take account of the past misdeeds of the shrub’s administration. As Americans, we cannot move forward without the removal, trial and imprisonment of those who in their positions of authority made use of torture in their capacity as servants of the public.
America is to blame for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the need to fight them, we were the ones who during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan funded the ‘jihadists’ who became the so-called ‘Al-Qaeda.’
America now needs a Truth Commission, one with the power to bring to justice, those who approved the use
of torture and secret rendition on people who, without doubt were innocent and could not have given any useful information. Where are the thousands of people, including children, who were subjected to torture? We, the American people need to know! Our complacency has caused a large gap in the knowledge that is required to run a country. Our public servants took over the running of the country for their masters, the corporatocracy, and know we are left with the results, economic ruin, low to no esteem in the eyes of the rest of the world, and a fake war on terror that will never end.
Should those who were the authorities, during the shrub’s administration, ever be brought to justice, count me in, for the jury of their peers.

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By dihey, April 10, 2009 at 4:20 am Link to this comment

I have severely criticized Mr. Robinson in the past for his slavish support of Mr. Obama. I am revising my view. He is beginning to puncture the dangerous PR gloss of the Obama administration. Good!

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By AmEx, April 10, 2009 at 4:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have become so hateful of the US Government, I almost can’t wait for the american zombies to wake up and start a revolution.

All it will take is a couple of weeks of explaining who those politicians are serving on a big, mainstream news program and that should do it - maybe.

I also believe that Obama is a thief.  He craftily stole my vote by opening his mouth and promising to be a human being by holding the criminals accountable and protect our constitution.

Change we can believe in - HUH! BULLSHIT!!!

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By godistwaddle, April 10, 2009 at 3:17 am Link to this comment

I guess this puts the lie to American exceptionalism, eh?  Of course, reading and thinking people have known forever that the U.S., founded on genocide and slavery and known for exploiting, torturing and murdering littler and browner people worldwide since at least 1845 (actually from 1789)is little different from the Brits, the French, the Germans, or, for that matter, the Japanese.  We held the Nazi and Japanese “war criminals” to account, but we’ve been pretty reticent since, particularly as some of our most coddled friends, Pinochet, Batista, the Saud family were merely doing what we love.

Were there justice, about 500 Americans who justified, executed, and voted for torture would swing at Nuremberg.  So much for justice.

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