U.S. strategically hides Bush-era torture to avoid UN scrutiny

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U.S. strategically hides Bush-era torture to avoid UN scrutiny


U.S. strategically hides Bush-era torture to avoid UN scrutiny

By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune News Analysis

Washington, D.C. 14 March (Asiantribune.com): source:

Afghan detainee Gul Rahman would never leave the CIA prison known as “The Salt Pit” alive. Interrogators left Rahman in his cell, reportedly “naked from the waste down,” after shackling him and dousing him with cold water. In the morning, they discovered that the Rahman, who had reportedly been “uncooperative” with his captors, had died of hypothermia.

Military medical examiners said Iraqi detainee Manadel al-Jamadi died of asphyxiation, a result of his being hung by his arms, and other mysterious injuries sustained during interrogation, such as his five broken ribs.

After his death, US Army Reservist Charles Graner Jr. was photographed grinning next to al-Jamadi’s frozen corpse. The Associated Press noted that the CIA official who oversaw Rahman’s treatment “was reprimanded” and “now works as a defense contractor.”

The Justice Department announced August 2012 that the investigation into Rahman and al-Jamadi’s deaths would be closed with no charges. This means that the Obama administration will be turning the page on the Bush years with almost no accountability for anyone linked to the legalization and implementation of Bush-era interrogation techniques.

The University of California, Davis in a study “Truth, Accountability, Reform and Reconciliation: The Road to Security and the Restoration of American Values.” early this year described the torture regimen carried by the United States in this manner:

“According to credible information, the practices and policies enacted since 9/11 have involved international alliances with criminal armed groups; human trafficking; civilian arrests without warrants; denial of the writ of habeas corpus; secret detention; life-threatening, open-air, holding pens; medical neglect; interference of interrogation on medical treatment; fatal, disabling, and disfiguring beatings; hanging by the wrists; threats of death or bodily harm; mauling by military dogs; torture by proxy (extraordinary rendition); controlled drowning (waterboarding); sensory deprivation; sensory assault; forced nudity; temperature and dietary manipulation; sleep deprivation; disorientation in space and time; positional torture (stress positions and prolonged standing); binding torture (tight shackling or cuffing); solitary confinement; indefinite detention; severe humiliation; sexual assaults; assaults with excreta; forced feeding; interference with religious practices; verbal abuse, and the exploitation of cultural idiosyncrasies and personal phobias.”

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (United Nations Convention against Torture) is an international human rights instrument, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and cruel, inhuman degrading treatment or punishment around the world.

Article 1 of the Convention defines torture as:

“Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions”.

When the United States was forced to withdraw the draft resolution against Sri Lanka in September 2011 as a result of the strategic diplomatic maneuvers of the members of the Sri Lanka team at UNHRC in Geneva, the US Ambassador for Human Rights in Geneva threatened the then team leader Tamara Kunanayakam “We’ll get you next time!”.

Well, Sri Lanka is currently facing the U.S. diplomatic assault at UNHRC in Geneva advocating an ‘international mechanism’ to probe Sri Lanka’s alleged violation of IHL and IHRL while the United States itself has refused to investigate and account for its own human rights violations and war crimes during its ‘War on Global Terror’ completely ignoring the slogans ‘accountability’, ‘transparency’ it is using to bring Sri Lanka to the ‘Geneva Dock’ fulfilling one of the ‘agenda items’ of the separatist-pro Eelam elements within the Global Tamil Diaspora.

The Amnesty International in its 2008 report on America’s culpability to war crimes noted “There is not a single fix that will bring the USA’s actions on counterterrorism into compliance with international law. The violations in the “war on terror” have been many and varied, and the government has exploited a long-standing reluctance of the USA to commit itself fully to international law, including in relation to recognizing the full range of its international obligations with respect to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The question of accountability and remedy for violations in the “war on terror” must therefore be part of a new commitment by the USA to international law.”

In its refusal to investigate the Bush-era torture practices, President Obama himself declaring that he prefers to look forward, not backward, the Obama administration announced June 30 (2011) that it would shut down 99 investigations into deaths of prisoners in US custody during the “war on terror,” leaving only two investigations with the potential to develop into criminal prosecutions.

What Attorney General Eric Holder announced on August 30 last year was the dismissal of the last two remaining torture-death investigations under the watch of the CIA.

And now a drama is being jointly enacted in the US Senate and within the CIA, with the concurrence of Obama’s White House, to conceal America’s blatant involvement in torture and inhuman and degrading punishment in violation of UN Charters.

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating since December 2012 the interrogation practices during the Bush administration and has collected eye witness accounts, sensitive documents and closed-door testimonies as to how those interrogations of terrorism suspects since the 9/11 attacks were carried and whether those ‘enhanced interrogation’ practices were amount to torture.

The draft report of the Senate committee goes beyond 6000 pages, and it is classified. Under the US law it is the President who has the authority to de-classify documents.

The Chair of the Senate committee Dianne Feinstein took to the Senate floor on Tuesday 11 February to warn that the CIA’s continuing cover-up of its torture program provided stark and convincing evidence that the C.I.A. may have committed crimes to prevent the exposure of interrogations that she said were “far different and far more harsh” than anything the agency had described to Congress.

Ms. Feinstein delivered an extraordinary speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday in which she said the C.I.A. improperly searched the computers used by committee staff members who were investigating the interrogation program as recently as January.

On Tuesday, the C.I.A. director, John Brennan, denied hacking into the committee’s computers. But Ms. Feinstein said that in January, Mr. Brennan acknowledged that the agency had conducted a “search” of the computers.

The question here is: Does the United States – the Congress, the CIA and Obama White House – prepared to reveal the interrogation practices, enhanced interrogation (torture), its terrorist suspect rendition program sending terrorist suspects to other countries who were noted for their brutality for interrogation, what steps Obama Justice Department has so far taken to bring those who were responsible for those ‘utter inhuman deeds’ and be transparent and accountable.

Who is this CIA Director John Brennan? He was the person, under President Bush and Vice President Dick Chaney under whose command the ‘enhanced interrogation’ program was in operation to question terrorist suspects, now at the center of the current ‘episode’ with the US Senate Intelligence Committee. He was the person who was Bush administration’s main person in charge of the interrogation, rendition and the use of waterboarding techniques on terrorism suspect in violation of UN Charters.

What is ‘Waterboarding’?

Also called water torture, simulated drowning, interrupted drowning, and controlled drowning, method of torture in which water is poured into the nose and mouth of a victim who lies on his back on an inclined platform, with his feet above his head. As the victim’s sinus cavities and mouth fill with water, his gag reflex causes him to expel air from his lungs, leaving him unable to exhale and unable to inhale without aspirating water.

Although water usually enters the lungs, it does not immediately fill them, owing to their elevated position with respect to the head and neck. In this way the victim can be made to drown for short periods without suffering asphyxiation. The victim’s mouth and nose are often covered with a cloth, which allows water to enter but prevents it from being expelled; alternatively, his mouth may be covered with cellophane or held shut for this purpose. The torture is eventually halted and the victim put in an upright position to allow him to cough and vomit (water usually enters the esophagus and stomach) or to revive him if he has become unconscious, after which the torture may be resumed. Waterboarding produces extreme physical suffering and an uncontrollable feeling of panic and terror, usually within seconds.

Officially, the United States has acknowledged the use of this method since Obama took office.

The US Senate undertaking an investigation, the accusations leveled against John Brennan, the CIA spying on senate investigators and Senator Feinstein’s outburst last Tuesday are all ‘side shows’ to prevent the disclosure of the Bush-era torture and evade scrutiny of the United Nations and its Geneva arm which is scrutinizing Sri Lanka at this hour.

Shunning accountability and transparency since the advent of the Obama administration as an attempt to suppress the brutality of enhanced interrogation which is widely known as torture, prisoner rendition, and other violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) has now become an official policy.

Investigations of the architects of the Bush-era program had been all but ruled out in 2009, when President Barack Obama told ABC News that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” One commentator put it this way: You can torture a detainee in your custody to death and get away with it. You just can’t talk about it.

Courtesy : Asian Tribune


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