War crimes under Bush emerges in latest unraveled document: Obama administration refuses investigation
A Bush White House document that carried a memorandum written by a senior advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warning the Bush administration that its use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” interrogation techniques like waterboarding were “a felony war crime" has now been unraveled challenging the Obama White House to institute an investigation into American war crimes which clearly violated the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
The Obama administration has gone on record that it will 'look forward' and 'not backward' meaning there will be no investigation of alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and violation of the IHL under the regime.
The highly sensitive memorandum of dissenting opinion by the senior Bush administration official Philip Zelikow who was a senior counselor to Ms. Rice was suppressed by both the Bush and Obama administrations until the investigative journalist Spencer Ackerman filled a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) law suit in April 2009 after failing, with repeated requests, to obtain a copy from the Hillary Clinton-State Department.
Journalist Ackerman's FOI request was granted three years later a couple of days ago Clinton-State Department releasing the Zelikow-memorandum.
The state department released Zelikow’s memo Tuesday, April 3 under the freedom of information act to the National Security Archive, a nonprofit advocacy group for openness in government.
As part of its cover-up of Bush administration war crimes, the Obama administration announced June 30, 2011 that it would shut down 99 investigations into deaths of prisoners in US custody during the so-called “war on terror,” leaving only two investigations with the potential to develop into criminal prosecutions.
The announcement underscores the fact that the torture policies developed during the Bush era continue unchallenged under the Obama administration, which is doing everything to keep the lid on the crimes of his predecessor.
Echoing Obama’s “looking forward, not backward” policy, Attorney General Holder announced June 30, 2011 that 99 of the 101 cases did not warrant further investigation.
“I welcome the news that the broader inquiries are behind us,” remarked Leon Panetta, who left his post as CIA director July 1 to become secretary of defense. “We are now finally about to close this chapter of our agency’s history,” he added. Panetta was referring to closing the chapter in which the agency’s practices were subjected to any form of official scrutiny.
Mr. Zelikow argued that the Geneva conventions applied to al-Qaida — a position neither the Bush Justice Department nor the White House shared at the time. That made waterboarding and the like a violation of the War Crimes statute and a “felony,” Zelikow remarked. Asked explicitly if he believed the use of those interrogation techniques were a war crime, Zelikow replied, “Yes.” At the time he wrote his criticism, Zelikow was secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s representative on terrorism issues to the national security council’s deputies committee.
At the time he wrote his criticism, Zelikow was secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s representative on terrorism issues to the national Security Council’s deputies committee.
The investigative journalist who successfully won the FOI law suit to obtain the dissenting memorandum said Zelikow first revealed the existence of his secret memo, dated Feb. 15, 2006, in an April 2009 blog post, shortly after the Obama administration disclosed many of its predecessor’s legal opinions blessing torture.
He briefly described it in a contentious Senate hearing shortly thereafter, revealing then that “I later heard the memo was not considered appropriate for further discussion and that copies of my memo should be collected and destroyed.”
Well, the memorandum is now in public domain for the Asian Tribune readers to have a glimpse.
Zelikow’s memo was an internal bureaucratic push against an attempt by the Justice Department to flout long-standing legal restrictions against torture. In 2005, he wrote, both the Justice and State Departments had decided that international prohibitions against “acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture” do not “apply to CIA interrogations in foreign countries.” Those techniques included contorting a detainee’s body in painful positions, slamming a detainee’s head against a wall, restricting a detainee’s caloric intake, and waterboarding.
Zelikow wrote that a law passed that year by Congress, restricting interrogation techniques, meant the “situation has now changed.” Both legally and as a matter of policy, he advised, administration officials were endangering both CIA interrogators and the reputation of the United States by engaging in extreme interrogations — even those that stop short of torture.
“We are unaware of any precedent in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or any subsequent conflict for authorized, systematic interrogation practices similar to those in question here,” Zelikow wrote, “even where the prisoners were presumed to be unlawful combatants.”
The investigative reporter Spencer Ackareman noted that Mr. Zelikow’s warnings about the legal dangers of torture went unheeded — not just by the Bush administration, which ignored them, but, ironically, by the Obama administration, which effectively refuted them. As reported in the Asian Tribune in a separate account last year and referred at the outset of this report, the Justice Department concluded an extensive inquiry into CIA torture by dropping potential charges against agency interrogators in 99 out of 101 cases of detainee abuse. That inquiry did not examine criminal complicity for senior Bush administration officials who designed the torture regimen and ordered agency interrogators to implement it.
In an interview Tuesday following the document’s release, Zelikow said: “I believe that the department of justice’s opinion was an extreme reading of the law and because the justice department opinion was secret, the only way the president could hear an alternative interpretation was for someone like me to offer it.
“It was bureaucratically and personally awkward for a state department official to challenge the department of justice on the interpretation of American constitutional law, but I had worked on constitutional law years earlier,” said Zelikow, a dean and professor at the University of Virginia.
- Asian Tribune –