McClatchy reports that torture was reauthorized in spring of 2003 by four Bush administration officials: Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales. It has already been revealed by McClatchy that the reason for the reaffirmation to the CIA to go on intensively waterboarding and otherwise torturing Abu Zubayda and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad was to get them to allege an operational tie between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, a link that did not exist.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell were absent from the reauthorization meeting. (My guess is that they were too smart to come to it, realizing that it could be a one-way trip to the International Court of Justice at the Hague.)
The McClatchy headline also indicates that these four officials may have pressured the lawyers who wrote bizarre legal opinions saying that torture is OK in US law when it is not. (If they had written legal opinions saying that murder was OK, would that also be a matter of mere legal interpretation that might legitimately differ from attorney to attorney? But then what is the difference between torture and murder in the law, or in ethics?)
The reauthorization of torture contravenes the Geneva Conventions, to which the US is signatory, which is to say, it contravenes US law.
Liz Cheney should be reminded that the Nuremberg process executed at least one person for persistently advocating crimes against humanity even though he never killed anyone with his own hands.
It is therefore a matter for some concern that the offenses may only be investigated and adjudicated in Europe, relatively toothlessly.
Mark Follman reminds us that the legality or uselessness of torture is not the only issue. There is also the issue of morality and of its warping effect on the torturers.
But note that the March waterboardings were not for the purpose of increasing national security; they were intended to provide a propaganda victory for an illegal war plan. That is not just wrong, it is evil.
John McCain, himself tortured in North Vietnam, is asking that no Bush administration officials be prosecuted for advising or authorizing torture.
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