Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes."

Report slams U.S.

"There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes."

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That quote in the headline doesn't come from Michael Moore or some commenter on Democratic Underground or Daily Kos.

It comes from a retired major general of the U.S. Army, Antonio Taguba (top). It was Taguba, you may recall, that President Bush asked to investigate the original claims of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib back in 2004.

His comment is in the preface to this report:

WASHINGTON - A Cambridge-based human rights organization said it has found medical evidence supporting the claims of 11 former detainees who were allegedly tortured while in American custody between 2001 and 2004, in what a former top US military investigator said amounts to evidence of war crimes.

Medical evaluations of the former inmates found injuries consistent with the alleged abuse, including the psychological effects of sensory deprivation and forced nudity as well as signs of "severe physical and sexual assault," Physicians for Human Rights said in a report scheduled for release today.

The report also alleges that in four of the cases, American health professionals appeared to have been complicit by denying the detainees medical care and observing the abuse but making no effort to stop it - charges that, if true, represent gross violations of medical ethics.

By the way, none of the 11, detained at Guantanamo or in Afghanistan and Iraq, was ever charged with a crime. What happened to them? The doctors found:

One detainee who said he was repeatedly stabbed in the cheek with a screwdriver had wounds consistent with such treatment, the doctors reported. Another who said his captors sodomized him also had physical signs that supported the allegation, while several others had burns and psychological problems the doctors concluded were consistent with electrical shocks.

The report calls for President Bush to repudiate all forms of torture, for Congress to outlaw 17 interrogation technique that are outlined, and for the U.S. to make reparation payments to abuse victims. All three of those things strike me as doable, even politically feasible in the current climate, with only 24 percent of Americans now giving Bush a positive job rating.

Beyond that, I'd like to see Congress move quickly to censure Bush, Vice President Cheney, and any Cabinet members who were involved in authorizing these unlawful practices -- quickly, as in before a new forward-looking president starts with a clean slate in January. There's never going to be true justice, not the way that American politics works, but censure is a permanent black mark that -- in addition to these concrete remedies -- would be our best attempt at saying "never again." 

As a footnote, kudos to retired Gen. Taguba, an American hero.

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Will Bunch
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