Prosecute Bush *And* Obama for Torture

A couple weeks ago, Human Right Watch issued a report calling for a criminal investigation of Bush administration officials for the illegal regime of torture and detainee mistreatment implemented following the attack of September 11th. The report recommends the investigation of President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and CIA Director George Tenet, but also should include an examination of “the actions of the executive branch, the CIA, the military, and Congress” to find all those responsible.

Bravo, I say. This report has been and will almost certainly continue to be entirely ignored by the media and the political class, but in my mind, beginning to prosecute those responsible for the torture regime implemented in the Bush years ought to the be top priority at this point. Still, somehow the Human Rights Watch report does not go far enough.

The report focuses on investigations of Bush era abuses and individuals For the most part, the Obama administration appears in the report as having neglected its responsibility to enforce the law and initiate these criminal investigations. The extent of holding his predecessors accountable for these horrible crimes came in 2009 when Eric Holder appointed US Attorney John Durham to investigate detainee abuse but limited the probe to “unauthorized” acts, effectively eliminating any possibility of prosecuting Bush officials who authorized torture. “The Obama administration has failed to meet US obligations under the Convention against Torture to investigate acts of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees,” the report reads.

The reason this is simply not up to par (as admirable as I think the report is), is because it calls very little if any attention to the fact that Obama has continued many Bush era detainee abuses. As I wrote here, “not only has Obama decreed such ‘looking back’ not take place, he has continued the abuse and outlawry himself.” In the black site run by U.S. Special Operations forces adjacent to Bagram facilities, reports of “sleep deprivation, holding detainees in cold cells, forced nudity, physical abuse, detaining individuals in isolation cells for longer than 30 days, and restricting the access of the International Committee of the Red Cross” have been apparent since Obama took office. Two teenagers even, Issa Mohammad, then 17, and Abdul Rashid, who said he was younger than 16, told the Washington Post that they were subjected to all of these abuses, including being punched and slapped in the face. One prisoner at this site, which the US military denied even existed, lost an entire row of teeth from being hit in the face with the butt of gun by an American soldier while in custody. This is all in addition to the fact that the Obama administration has denied detainees at both Guantanamo and Bagram the right to challenge their detention. Furthermore, Obama has more than just failed to fully commit to criminal investigations of Bush crimes, he has actively protected these Bush officials from judicial scrutiny by invoking states secrets privileges as well as pressuring other governments to stop investigating these crimes, which ought to be considered obstruction of justice.

Clearly this is enough to issue a report calling for the investigation of Obama era detainee abuse as well, right?

  • liveload

    Also there's the Mogadishu site uncovered by Jeremy Scahill. This clearly falls under the Obama admin's approval workflow.

    • JLS

      Good point!

      I have read a few artcles which mentioned that a lot of the CIA people are staring to fear the real possibility of prosecution someday down the road. We won't see anything like that under Obama of course but it's healthy that they are finally starting to fear and maybe stop acting like they're eternally above the law.

    • Frank

      You're correct. It's strange that is not mentioned here.

  • skulz fontaine

    USDoJ is not up to the task. The ICC is laughable. The ICC would be brazen in their hypocrisy. So, how does one go about the business of working up war crimes tribunals? For Bushco and team Obama?

    • curmudgeonvt

      Idealistically, I'd like to see a group of American citizens have their own investigation and trials. There are enough investigative reporters – real journalists – who could provide the proof. And I would hope that there are enough well respected well known Americans who haven't been tainted by the kool-ade or ideology of hate or privilege who would not be afraid to take the heat from those who would not want to see such a trial come to pass. But, I know that I'm tokin' on that old pipe again. The Americans have been beaten down sufficiently and trained well to take the easy road – the road of least resistance and pain.

      • skulz fontaine

        Holy crap curmudgeonvt! You've hit it square on the head! Let's do it! We'll get Mr. Garris on board and the Raimondo and I'd bet we could get John Dean to prosecute. THE PEOPLE'S WAR CRIMES TRIBUNALS! I'd be willing to hand an indictment to John Yoo personally myself. I know where that asshat works.

  • There is no justice except for that which we are willing to kill or die for.

  • John_Muhammad

    Sadly, as we say in the South, "That dog won't hunt". HRW and the ICC can issue all the indictments it wants, but we know exactly what action will be taken on them: zero. Why? Because the USG has convinced itself that nothing it has done is illegal. "We said it was legal, so it is."

    And who does HRW or the ICC expect to enforce any actions? What nation is going to send marshals to round up Bush & Co. and deliver them to answer for their actions? Cameroon?

    When national leaders think themselves above the law and then make laws to reflect their new status, you can be sure they are not going to EVER answer for their actions. At best, the ICC might swing a few nations to issue arrest warrants for the suspects, but I'm sure our brave men and women who authorize torture and death are quite content to stay home on the farm where nobody can touch them. The new monarchy is alive and well in the US.

    On the other hand: France, 1789. You figure it out.

  • ghouri

    america is america and every thing is allowed for american president.
    Bush should be hanged and Obama must be present and see his fate but america is america and Bush needs medals for his bravery as killer.

  • alfred t mahan

    This can be taken from a totally practical point of view toot. The way you treat prisoners of war is critical to wining wars. If you have the reputation of treating POWs well your enemy is much more likely to surrender, In the first gulf war 100000s surrendered based on this valid resumption. In Afghanistan the Tali-ban did so too, however after the caravan of death and all kinds of other stuff the next big war will be different. Our enemies will replay clips from WOT over and over again to their solders and say, if you surrender to America this will do this to you. We might prosecute based on the damage that they have done to the militaris's ability to wage war.

  • Each president will meet different problems. Bush and Obama policies are different. So, sometimes particular criminal investigation will receive different treatment.

  • Kenneth1982

    Ron Paul – This is why the US troops support Ron Paul (MUST SEE) 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detai

    This is worth the time to watch. There is an excellent speech by Dr. Ron Paul, famous war protester Mike Prysner speaking out, footage of the carnage done to the smallest members of society, and insightful information on the horrors of unjust war – with beautiful music besides!

  • Kenneth1982

    SORRY!!! This is the right one!

    Ron Paul – This is the harsh reality of war, and this is why Obama lies (2012 MUST SEE) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNcYgcn-aR8&fe

    This is worth the time to watch. There is an excellent speech by Dr. Ron Paul, famous war protester Mike Prysner speaking out, footage of the carnage done to the smallest members of society, and insightful information on the horrors of unjust war – with beautiful music besides!

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  • Bravo, I say. This report has been and will almost certainly continue to be entirely ignored by the media and the political class, but in my mind, beginning to prosecute those responsible for the torture regime implemented in the Bush years ought to the be top priority at this point. Still, somehow the Human Rights Watch report does not go far enough.houston wedding bus