Archive for the Torture Category

“A decisive turning point in the crisis of American imperialism” – AIIP is here [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Assassination, Australia, Beijing, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, Denmark, Early 21st Century global capitalist financial crisis' US origins, Economic crisis & decline, Engels, France, Germany, IMF - International Monetary Fund, India, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Obama, Pentagon, Police State, south Korea, Taiwan, Torture, Trotsky, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War on April 2, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

1 April 2015

Yesterday was the deadline for countries to sign up as founding members of the China-backed Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). It will go down in history as marking a significant defeat for the global foreign policy and strategic objectives of United States imperialism.

Against strenuous opposition from Washington, more than 40 countries have now indicated they want to be part of the AIIB. Major European powers including Britain, France and Germany, as well as Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, are on board. Almost all countries in the South East Asian region, which count China as their major trading partner, have also signed up. India is also a signatory, together with Taiwan.

The most significant blow against the US was struck by Britain, its chief European ally, which announced its decision to join on March 12. It opened the floodgates for others to follow, including two key US allies in the Asia-Pacific -— Australia and South Korea. Japan is also reported to be considering joining, possibly as early as June.

The full significance of the US defeat and its far-reaching implications emerge most clearly when viewed from a historical perspective.

One of the chief objections of the Obama administration to the new bank was that it would undermine the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Together with the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944, they constituted central pillars of the global economic order established after World War II by the United States, which played the central role in rebuilding world capitalism following the devastation of the 1920s and 1930s and the wars and revolutionary struggles it produced.

Of course, both of these institutions, together with the Marshall Plan for the restabilisation of war-torn Europe, operated to the economic and strategic benefit of American imperialism.

But while America drew enormous gains from the post-war order, it was not narrowly conceived. There was a recognition in ruling political and economic circles that if American capitalism was to survive, it would have to use the enormous resources at its disposal to ensure the growth and expansion of other capitalist powers, above all, those against which it had fought a bitter and bloody conflict.

Post-war reconstruction enabled the expansion of Germany and turned it once again into the industrial powerhouse of Europe. At the same time, concessions to Japan on the value of its currency -— it was pegged at 360 yen to the dollar -— opened up export markets for its industry. The decision to build trucks and other military equipment in Japan during the Korean War laid the foundations for the development of Japan’s auto industry, as it incorporated, and then developed, the advanced production techniques that had been established in the US.

The industrial and economic capacity of the United States, even when it took reactionary forms as in the case of the Korean War, was utilised to facilitate a new phase of global capitalist expansion—the post-war boom.

What a contrast to the present situation! American capitalism is no longer the industrial powerhouse of the world, ensuring the expansion of the capitalist economy as a whole. Rather, it functions as the global parasite-in-chief, as its rapacious banks, investment houses and hedge funds scour the world for profitable opportunities, engaged not in the production of new wealth, but in the appropriation of wealth produced elsewhere, often via criminal or semi-criminal operations.

In the immediate post-war period, the US was the champion of free trade, recognising that the restrictions and beggar-thy-neighbour policies of the 1930s had produced a disaster. Today, through measures such as the Trans Pacific Partnership and similar arrangements being prepared with regard to Europe, Washington seeks to forge exclusivist agreements aimed at protecting the monopoly position of US corporations. America, Obama has stated, must write the global rules for trade and investment in the 21st century.

American influence in the post-war period was not confined to the immediate economic sphere. Notwithstanding all its contradictory features, American society appeared to have something to offer the world as a whole, which had suffered decades of war, fascism and military forms of rule, along with economic devastation.

Again, the contrast with the present situation could not be starker. American democracy, once held up as a beacon for the rest of the world, is a withered caricature of its former self, no longer capable of concealing the dictatorship of the financial and corporate elites.

Social conditions are characterised by deprivation and state violence, reflected not least in the daily police killings. America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, and in Detroit, once the centre of the American industrial economy, paying the highest wages, water shutoffs are being imposed. The US government carries out torture, abductions, assassinations and mass spying on its own people and others around the world. The country is ruled by criminals who cannot be held accountable for their crimes.

In the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the removal from the scene of its global rival, the American ruling class was gripped by the idea that while its economic position had been severely weakened -— the stock market crash of 1987 was a harbinger of things to come -— American hegemony could nevertheless be maintained by military means.

But as Frederick Engels had earlier explained in refuting another exponent of “force theory,” the notion that economic developments—the advance of industry, credit and trade—and the contradictions to which they gave rise could be “blown out of existence” with “Krupp guns and Mauser rifles” was a delusion.

The past 25 years of American foreign policy, based on the use of cruise missiles and drones, combined with invasions and regime-change operations grounded on lies, have produced one debacle after another.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost, as other capitalist powers, great and small, begin to conclude that hitching themselves to the American juggernaut is the surest road to disaster. That is the historic significance of their decision to join the AIIB.

How will American imperialism respond? By increasing its military provocations, threatening to plunge the world once again into war.

Charting the rise of American imperialism in the late 1920s, Leon Trotsky noted that in the period of crisis, its hegemony would operate “more openly and more ruthlessly than in the period of boom,” and that it would attempt to extricate itself from its difficulties and maladies at the expense of its rivals, if necessary by means of war.

However there is another, and, in the final analysis, decisive, aspect to the economic decline of American imperialism, marked so powerfully by the events of yesterday.

For decades, the American working class was disoriented by the idea of a continually rising power -— that America’s “best days” were always ahead. Reality is now coming home with ever-increasing force.

Events are shattering the delusions of the past and will propel the American working class on to the road of revolutionary struggle, creating the conditions for the unification of the international working class in the fight for world socialist revolution.

Nick Beams

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/04/01/pers-a01.html

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America’s “dirty brigades” in Iraq [World Socialist Website]

Posted in CIA, Corporate Media Critique, Iraq, Obama, Pentagon, Syria, Torture, US "War on Terror", US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on March 16, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

16 March 2015

Last August, the United States government and the media responded to the brutal decapitation of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with a show of moral indignation. The murder was seized on to justify an escalation of the war launched the previous week against ISIS in Iraq and, soon after, its extension into Syria. President Barack Obama denounced Foley’s execution as “an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the world.”

It has now emerged that even as Obama and other officials were declaring their abhorrence of ISIS atrocities, they were concealing, with the connivance of the media, photographic and video evidence of similar crimes being carried out on a large scale by US-backed forces in Iraq.

ABC News reported last week that Iraqi military units and Shiite militias trained and armed by the United States are being investigated by the Iraqi government for possible war crimes, including the torture and summary execution of Sunni prisoners, in many cases by decapitation, and the desecration of corpses. ABC has known of these crimes since September last year, when it came across an online video posted by a member of the Iraqi security forces showing a handcuffed prisoner being shot in the head.

An investigation was reportedly opened by the Iraqi government after an ABC News journalist presented evidence of “uniformed soldiers from some of Iraq’s most elite units and militia members massacring civilians, torturing and executing prisoners, and displaying severed heads.”

Multiple images posted by ABC last week depict soldiers wearing the uniforms of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces and the Emergency Response Brigade, which operates under the authority of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, posing with severed heads. Others depict Iraqi Special Forces dragging corpses behind their Humvees. Another image shows a corpse being hung from the guard tower of an Iraqi military base.

Responding to the revelations of war crimes carried out by its proxies in Iraq, the Obama administration issued a statement declaring, “If these allegations are confirmed, those found responsible must be held accountable.”

Such statements are worthless. While there has been detailed reporting on the crimes of ISIS, next to nothing has been said by the American government or media about the activities of the US-backed forces. The New York Times has yet to dedicate a single column inch to the latest revelations.

The ABC report has been buried by the rest of media, just as the US media sought to suppress the photos of torture carried out by the CIA and US military at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq 11 years ago. The Obama administration continues to suppress more than 2,000 photographs that depict American soldiers torturing, raping and murdering Iraqi and Afghan prisoners.

As for accountability, it is the American government and military that bear principal responsibility not only for the crimes of the Iraqi military, but for those of ISIS as well…

Excerpted, full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/03/16/iraq-m16.html
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Related article: “Atrocities Committed by U.S.-Trained Iraqi Forces — Again” [The Intercept] – https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/03/13/iraqi-military-forces-equipped-u-s-commit-atrocities/

French, European imperialists escalate Islamophobia [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Anti-Islam hysteria, Belgium, CIA, Economic crisis & decline, Fascism, France, Genocide, Germany, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iraq, Obama, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Syria, Torture, Turkey, U.K., Ukraine, US "War on Terror", US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, Yemen on January 26, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Fred Goldstein January 19, 2015

French, U.S. and British imperialism and their partners, each in their own way and for their own aims, are determined to escalate wars abroad and repression at home.

The French ruling class has imposed an undeclared state of siege on its own Muslim population and has used troops in North and West Africa to repress rebellions protesting the publication of Islamophobic cartoons in the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

French President Francois Hollande, of the misnamed “Socialist Party,” has declared that France is “at war,” echoing a previous statement by Prime Minister Manuel Valls. France has deployed 122,000 heavily armed troops and police throughout the country and has declared a “high alert.” Soldiers and police with heavy weapons patrol the streets, train stations and other public places. Raids have been carried out and dozens of people arrested.

In neighboring Belgium, the authorities deployed 300 troops to Antwerp and Brussels, carried out sweeps and shot two people dead in a raid in the town of Verviers. In Germany, Interior Ministry spokesperson Tobias Plate spoke of an “abstract high danger” as the authorities deployed 250 police in pre-dawn raids. The racist frenzy in France led to the stabbing death in a village outside Avignon of a Moroccan man, Mohamed El Makouli, by an Islamophobic neighbor.

Imperialists step up international aggression

The European imperialists are doubling down on their attacks abroad as well. The French government is flying Mirage jets over Iraq in a joint operation with the U.S. Instead of addressing the crushing poverty and racism suffered by the millions of French youth and workers of African or Middle Eastern ancestry, the answer of the regime is to deploy troops and step up surveillance in the oppressed communities and at airports.

Instead of pulling back from war on Muslim people in Iraq, Syria and North and West Africa, the Hollande regime is pressing ahead with the policies that led to the attacks against the unspeakable racism and chauvinism expressed by the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo.

Hollande and his fellow imperialists organized a mass march in Paris on Jan. 11 allegedly for “free speech,” which defended and celebrated the magazine that insulted the religion of nearly 2 billion oppressed people worldwide. In fact, you do not have to be religious at all to be revolted by the arrogant, insensitive depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in sexual poses and other objectionable images.

Hollande is partly motivated by the fact that his popularity in France was at a dismally low point before the crisis. And he is struggling to fend off challenges from the fascist National Front Party, led by Marine le Pen, who got a quarter of the vote in the 2014 election for the European Parliament. It is characteristic of social democrats such as Hollande that the way they fight the right is to move to the right themselves and occupy the political territory of the National Front.

President Obama and his administration have been trying to bob and weave through the crisis. The Obama administration stayed away from the Paris demonstration. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris just blocks away at a conference, stayed away from the march.

Washington is universally hated by Muslims

This is for purely imperialist purposes. Washington is the most universally hated power by Muslims — from the Middle East to Pakistan, to Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia, and other parts of the world — for its wars of aggression, its drone strikes, its torture policies, its massacres of civilians, its prisons from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo, and more.

The recent exposure of the CIA torturers in the Senate Intelligence Committee report is filled with graphic descriptions of U.S. torture. These have been read around the world. Washington is trying to placate Muslim public opinion and has even banned references to “Islamic extremism.” In addition to the fact that the neocons and militarists in Washington despise French imperialism and do not want to increase its prestige, they certainly did not want to be identified with defense of the insult to the Prophet Muhammad at a time when they are escalating their attacks on Muslims in Iraq and Syria and at home.

Washington and the Pentagon have no intention of pulling back on their aggression. Obama held a joint press conference on Jan. 16 with his junior partner, British Prime Minister David Cameron, to announce common measures to “fight terrorism.” Cameron announced new cooperation in the war in Iraq and in Ukraine, among other gestures of imperialist subordination.

But Washington intends to keep leadership of the imperialist assault against the oppressed. While in Paris during the march, Eric Holder announced that the administration will host a summit in Washington on Feb. 18 on preventing violent extremism.

Washington recently announced a new deployment of 1,000 U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. They will be used to train carefully vetted, Pentagon-approved Syrian counterrevolutionaries in order to build up a 5,000-person force to continue the war against Syria and the Islamic State.

Washington is also behind the counterrevolutionary government of Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine, which is planning a new offensive to try to recapture the east from anti-fascist forces of resistance to a U.S.-Europe takeover.

Rise of Islamophobia

The background on the rise of Islamophobia is the growing economic crisis that is engulfing Europe. Islamophobia has become the battle cry of the ultra-right and fascist forces in Europe, just as racism, sexism and homophobia make up the battle cry of right-wing extremists and fascists in the U.S.

Fascist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic parties exist in France, Germany, Britain, Belgium, Sweden, Greece and other countries in Europe. Prior to the most recent publication of cartoons defaming the Prophet Muhammad, there were demonstrations throughout Europe demanding crackdowns on immigration and immigrants.

In recent days specific Islamophobic demonstrations have taken place in Germany and France. It is an illusion that Islamophobia can be stopped by a government ban of right-wing demonstrations.

The social soil for political reaction exists in France, for example, where the official unemployment rate is 10 percent and youth unemployment is 20 percent. At the same time, unemployment rates have reached 40 percent in the oppressed neighborhoods.

French capitalism, and European capitalism in general, has been unable to lift itself out of the global capitalist crisis which began in 2007. There has been no recovery for the European working class. Unemployment in the eurozone, as in France, is above 10 percent, and youth unemployment is double that. In some countries such as Greece and Spain unemployment is between 15 and 20 percent.

This is part of a general crisis of overproduction that has plagued the global profit system and which is intensifying every month. Right now the right wing has seized the advantage and is feeding on the discontent of the masses to garner support for divisive, racist ideology. This is aggravated by the inability of the capitalist governments to turn the economic situation around.

Persistent and growing unemployment should be a signal for a revival of the working-class movement. It is high time for the communists and progressive, anti-racist, anti-imperialist and pro-working class forces to unite to defend the Muslim population and push back the fascists.

Copyright © 2015 Workers.org

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/01/19/french-european-imperialists-escalate-islamophobia/

Obama admin withholding 2,100 US military torture photos [RT]

Posted in ACLU / American Civil Liberties Union, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iraq, Obama, Pentagon, Syria, Torture, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on January 7, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

So the Federal judge should be deliberating on these by this time, anybody heard anything? – Zuo Shou

October 22, 2014

The Obama administration has blocked the public release of disturbing torture photos out of concern they would endanger US troops. Now, a federal judge is giving the government until December to justify its actions.

In addition to the disturbing Abu Ghraib photos released in 2004, an estimated 2,100 images of US military personnel torturing and degrading detainees – possibly even more disturbing – may soon be released into the public realm.

Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein has given the US Justice Department until December 12 to defend its rationale for withholding each photograph on an individual basis. Hellerstein will then deliver his ruling on the future fate of the photographs after he conducts a review of the government’s case.

In 2009, President Obama denied release of the photographs on the grounds they would “further inflame anti-American opinion and … put our troops in greater danger.” The move by the president was supported by passage of the Protected National Security Documents Act, which gives the Secretary of Defense the power to keep any photographic images classified if it is believed their release would endanger Americans.

Marcellene Hearn, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said the release of the photographs would shed some light on US military facilities abroad. “It’s disappointing that the government continues to fight to keep these photographs from the public,” Hearn said after the hearing, as quoted by the Guardian. “The American people deserve to know the truth about what happened in our detention centers abroad. Yet the government is suppressing as many as 2,100 photographs of detainee abuse in Iraq and elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, in a separate case, a Federal District Court earlier this month [2014 October] ordered the release of 28 videotapes reportedly showing the force-feeding of a hunger-striking detainee at Guantánamo Bay detention center, rejecting the government’s assertion that releasing the tapes would risk the lives of troops.

With the United States military conducting air missions in Iraq and Syria, this time to [allegedly] fight against militants of the Islamic State, there will be much greater incentive to keep the disturbing images classified so as not to inflame anti-American passions even more.

Article link: http://rt.com/usa/198056-abu-ghraib-obama-torture/

US torture report exposes European powers’ involvement in CIA crimes [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Albania, Austria, Belgium, CIA, Croatia, Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, George W. Bush, Germany, Greece, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iceland, Italy, Libya, National Security Agency / NSA, NATO, NSA, Poland, Police State, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Torture, Turkey, U.K., U.K. War Crimes, Ukraine, US "War on Terror", US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on December 14, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Alex Lantier
12 December 2014

The publication of the US Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture has exposed the European powers’ complicity in ghastly crimes of US intelligence. Even though European states’ complicity in CIA torture and rendition operations has been documented for nearly a decade, no European officials have been held accountable.

In 2005, the Council of Europe tasked former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty with preparing a report on secret CIA prisons in Europe. He released two reports, in 2006 and 2007, documenting the complicity of dozens of European states in setting up facilities for illegal CIA rendition and torture. The states involved included Britain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Albania.

The existence of approximately 1,000 CIA flights and of secret prisons in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Bucharest (Romania), Antavilas (Lithuania), and Stare Kiejkuty (Poland) has since been confirmed.

Nonetheless, after the US Senate recognized CIA use of the grisliest forms of torture — including murder, sexual assault, sleep deprivation and forcing inmates to stand on broken limbs —officials across Europe reacted by insisting that they should enjoy immunity.

Top officials of the Polish government, which is appealing a July ruling against it over its role in CIA torture by the European Court on Human Rights, denounced the report. “Certain secrets should stay that way,” said Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak.

Polish prosecutors have been investigating the case for six years, including a two-year investigation of former Polish intelligence chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, without bringing any charges. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, was waterboarded as soon as he arrived at Stare Kiejkuty. One medical officer there noted: “We are basically doing a series of near-drownings.”

Other detainees at Stare Kiejkuty, which housed Saudi, Algerian and Yemeni detainees, were subjected to mock executions with a power drill while standing hooded and naked.
Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski lamely claimed that CIA officials did not explain how they planned to use their secret prisons in Poland. “It was a question as we saw it only of creating secret sites,” he said, adding that he closed down the facility in 2003 because “the Americans’ secret activities began to worry” Polish authorities.
Lithuanian officials confirmed that the black site named “detention center Violet” by the US Senate report appears to be the Lithuanian detention center near the capital, Vilnius, identified in a 2009-2010 parliamentary investigation. Lawmaker Arvydas Anusauskas told Reuters, “The US Senate report, to me, makes a convincing case that prisoners were indeed held at the Lithuanian site.”

Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi detainee now kept at Guantanamo Bay, has stated that he was kept and tortured at the site. Washington paid the Lithuanian government $1 million to “show appreciation” for operating the prison, according to the US Senate report, though the funds were reportedly paid out through “complex mechanisms.”

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius has asked Washington to confirm whether or not the CIA tortured prisoners at its secret prisons in Lithuania.

British Prime Minister David Cameron dismissed the issue of torture and Britain’s role in rendition flights to countries including Libya, saying that it had been “dealt with from a British perspective.” He told the public to trust British intelligence to police itself, as official investigations had “produced a series of questions that the intelligence and security community will look at … I’m satisfied that our system is dealing with all of these issues.”

In fact, the CIA torture report has revealed the advanced state of collapse of democratic forms of rule not only in the United States, but also in Europe. What has emerged across Europe since the September 11 attacks is the framework of a police state far more technically powerful than even the most ruthless dictatorships of twentieth-century Europe. The methods deployed as part of the “war on terror” will also be used against opposition in the working class to unpopular policies of austerity and war.

European governments participate in the digital spying on telecommunications and Internet activities of the European population, carried out by the US National Security Agency and its local counterparts, as revealed by Edward Snowden. They also are planning joint repression of social protests, based on talks between German federal police, France’s Gendarmerie, and other security forces with the European Commission.

“During my investigation, people called me a traitor and said I was making things up,” Marty told the Tribune de Genève. “The Europeans disappointed me. Germany, the United Kingdom, and many others blocked the establishment of the truth. In fact, most European countries actively participated in a system that legitimated large-scale state crimes.”

“I think we must recall, and it is very important, that this operation, this anti-terrorist policy, was decided and carried out under the aegis of NATO,” Marty told Swiss television channel RTS.

“The United States invoked Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which says that if one member of the alliance is attacked militarily [e.g., as Washington claimed, on September 11], all NATO members are required to come to its aid,” Marty said. Once this was accepted, he added, “there were a whole series of secret accords between the United States and European powers. And all the European countries pledged to grant total immunity to CIA agents, which is manifestly illegal.”

The European powers’ participation in the CIA torture program underscores the utter hypocrisy of the humanitarian pretensions used to justify operations ranging from NATO wars in Syria and Libya to this February’s NATO-backed, fascist-led putsch in Ukraine.

The ferocious opposition of the European ruling elites to attempts to bring this criminality to light is the clearest indication that the democratic rights of the population cannot be secured by appeals to any section of the state. The defense of the population’s democratic and social rights is a question of the revolutionary mobilization of the working class in an international struggle against European capitalism.

Article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/12/euto-d12.html

UN officials call for criminal prosecution of US torturers [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, CIA, George W. Bush, Obama, Torture, US "War on Terror", US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on December 12, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Thomas Gaist
11 December 2014
The US is legally obliged to prosecute all high-level government officials involved in organizing the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) torture programs, top UN human rights officials said Wednesday. The torture programs violated international law, UN special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights Ben Emmerson said.

Responding to the release of the Senate report on CIA torture, Emmerson said in an official statement Wednesday that the report left no doubt that systematic torture programs set up by the US government led to massive violations of the 1994 UN Convention Against Torture.

Emmerson called on the US Attorney General to “bring criminal charges against those responsible” for torture. There is “no excuse for shielding the perpetrators from justice any longer,” he said.

“As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice,” said Emmerson. “The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes.”

Bush administration policies, “orchestrated at a high level,” led to “systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law,” he added.

The involvement of officials at the highest levels only makes criminal prosecutions all the more necessary, the UN official said.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the US government provides no excuse whatsoever,” Emmerson said. “Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”

Individuals involved in torture at all levels must be held accountable. “It is no defense for a public official to claim that they were acting on superior orders,” he said.

“However, the heaviest penalties should be reserved for those most seriously implicated in the planning and purported authorization of these crimes, Emmerson said. “Former Bush administration officials who have admitted their involvement in the programme should also face criminal prosecution for their acts.”

In a separate statement, UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein similarly called for US government officials involved in torture to be prosecuted. Top US officials “cannot simply be granted impunity because of political expediency,” al-Hussein said.

“The Convention lets no one off the hook – neither the torturers themselves, nor the policy-makers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders.”

An opinion piece published in the Los Angeles Times Tuesday, “Prosecute the torturers: It’s the Law,” by Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor and dean at the UC Irvine School of Law, similar argued that the CIA’s torture programs violate US and international law.

“Torture is a federal crime, and those who authorized it and engaged in it must be criminally prosecuted.” Chemerinsky writes, citing the Federal Torture Act (FTA). The Senate report “leaves no doubt” that the torture programs also violate the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Chemerinsky wrote.

The FTA states that even if the acts are committed “outside the United States,” anyone who commits torture should receive a 20-year prison sentence at minimum, and possibly the death penalty, Chemerinsky notes.

In light of the new report, President Obama’s decision not to prosecute officials from the Bush administration is now “clearly unacceptable,” he wrote.

“The debate should not be about whether the torture worked. The federal criminal law and the treaty have no exception for effective torture,” Chemerinsky wrote. “Those responsible should be held accountable, and President Obama should announce that criminal investigations and prosecutions are beginning immediately.”

These reports, coming from pillars of the political and academic establishment, confirm that the entire US ruling elite, including both big business parties and their representatives in Congress, is implicated in historic and unspeakable crimes.

Within the US official political and media circles, such demands for criminal prosecutions against US government torturers are nowhere to be found. Neither Senator Feinstein nor any other member of the Senate Intelligence Committee saw fit to demand criminal prosecutions against officials they know to have organized torture. The 528-page executive summary proposes not a single action or punishment for the crimes it documents exhaustively.

The Obama administration has extended and deepened the open repudiation of international law by the Bush administration. The failure of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Obama administration to hold accountable torturers who acted on behalf of the US government is itself a violation of international law.

By shielding officials who have admitted to setting up torture programs, including then-President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and adamantly refusing to carry out any investigations of officials involved in torture, the Obama administration and leading senators now act as direct accomplices of torture.

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/11/unre-d11.html

‘The United States and torture’ – excerpt from “The Anti-Empire Report #131” [Williamblum.org]

Posted in Assassination, CIA, George W. Bush, Obama, Pentagon, Torture, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on November 4, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By William Blum – Published August 11th, 2014

= The United States and torture =

Two of the things that governments tend to cover-up or lie about the most are assassinations and torture, both of which are widely looked upon as exceedingly immoral and unlawful, even uncivilized. Since the end of the Second World War the United States has attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders and has led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance and encouragement by American instructors, particularly in Latin America…

Excerpted; full article link: http://williamblum.org/aer/read/131