Accountability for torture by Bush regime taboo under Obama: "Last War Crime" movie and torture documents
Rendition of enemy combatants meaning sending terrorist suspects who are in the custody of the United States to their home countries which are notorious for their torture chambers was an established practiced in the Bush-Cheney administration. The Bush administration itself developed 'enhanced interrogation' regimen that was widely accepted as torture.
Simulated drowning technique called waterboarding, an established torture method, Dick Chaney even now supports. Then comes transparency and accountability under the Obama administration.
The United States which stands for transparency and accountability in other nations monitoring those nations' domestic battles has shown absolute minimal preparedness when it comes to its own transparency and accountability.
Shunning accountability and transparency since the advent of the Obama administration as an attempt to suppress the brutality of enhanced interrogation which is widely known as torture, prisoner rendition, and other violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) has now become an official policy.
The administration has even conditioned the mainstream media to avoid those issues. In fact, the Obama administration set the stage to dissuade the issue of torture, rendition and violations of IHL and IHRL from public discourse leave alone bringing those who were responsible for those crimes to justice.
" We are finally beginning to learn the full scope of the Bush administration's torture program. Government documents show that hundreds of prisoners were tortured in the custody of the CIA and Department of Defense, some of them killed in the course of interrogations. Justice Department memos show that the torture policies were devised and developed at the highest levels of the Bush administration.
"Abuses of the Bush eight years cannot be swept under the rug. Accountability for torture is a legal, political, and moral imperative."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) made the above statement when it disclosed on June 26 -- the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture -- 5000 US government (sensitive) documents running into 150,000 pages launching its Torture Database culminating in a two-year project intended to allow easier and more sophisticated access to the primary-source documents which extensively cover torture practices during the Bush-Cheney administration while unleashing its 'Global War on Terror'.
The ACLU further said while inaugurating the Torture Database site (http://www.thetorturedatabase.org/search/apachesolr_search) that it is "committed to restoring the rule of law. We will fight for the disclosure of the torture files that are still secret. We will advocate for the victims of the Bush administration's unlawful policies. We will press Congress to appoint a select committee that can investigate the roots of the torture program and recommend legislative changes to ensure that the abuses of the last eight years are not repeated. And we will advocate for the appointment of an independent prosecutor to examine issues of criminal responsibility. "
On October 7, 2003, the ACLU and other civil-rights and human-rights organizations filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for documents relating to the treatment, death, and rendition of detainees in U.S. custody abroad. Less than a year later, ACLU filed suit to force the government to process the request. On September 15, 2004, United States District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein issued the first of many opinions in the suit.
The court’s opinion—which ordered the government to comply with ACLU request—began with these words:
Ours is a government of laws, laws duly promulgated and laws duly observed. No one is above the law: not the executive, not the Congress, and not the judiciary. One of our laws is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). That law, no less than any other, must be duly observed.
In the years that followed, the government released well over 100,000 pages of documents to the ACLU in keeping with the federal law, FOIA, that the government had no other option. Among them are many of the most significant U.S. interrogation documents released to date.
Alex Abdo the staff attorney at the ACLU National Security Project said:
"When you dive even further into the documents, you will also find inspiring and heroic stories of dissent. American soldiers, lawyers, officials, and others who resisted the abusive interrogation policies that senior political leaders approved. Those courageous efforts met fierce resistance from a handful of administration officials committed to the regime of abusive interrogation that they had created. In the end, only public disclosure of the brutality of our government’s mistreatment of prisoners brought the failed experiment to a close."
The ACLU dwelled in this project because after September 11, 2001, U.S. officials authorized cruel treatment and torture of prisoners held in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, and the CIA's secret prisons overseas.
Coinciding the inauguration of ACLU's Torture Database to which Asian Tribune gives the following link http://www.thetorturedatabase.org/search/apachesolr_search for readers, researchers, scholars and media personnel worldwide to have easy access to understand the Bush-Cheney torture regimen, a US-produced movie based on the issue made its debut at Cannes Film Festival in France but has faced obstacles for its screening on the American soil; a self imposed censorship by the American media because of Obama administration's declared official position not to 'look back' but 'to look forward' meaning dismissing accountability and transparency in regard to Bush-Cheney torture regimen.
Written, produced and directed by a new talent known only as "The Pen", this film -- The Last War Crime -- documents the torture protocol ordained by the Bush-Cheney administration.
Epic political fantasy drama, envisioning what would have happened if Dick Cheney had been indicted for ordering torture, which was used to get the false confessions to make a fraudulent case for war. Starting with a dramatic recreation of events of the morning of the 9/11 attacks, the documentary tells the story of a heroic assistant U.S. attorney, who uncovers evidence of war crimes, and a suspenseful race against time to serve the Vice President in public with an arrest warrant before they can intercept her and quash it forever.
The Last War Crime is about indicting Cheney for ordering torture, waterboarding in particular. And he has been so arrogant about his self-perceived immunity from prosecution that he has admitted publicly that he was "a big supporter of waterboarding".
So the documentary is contrary to Mr. Obama's policy position not to investigate that torture practices well documented by the ACLU-extracted official papers under the FOIA.
Writes Jeanine Molloff, "In spite of strong evidence identifying Dick Cheney as the mastermind behind this torture regime--the subject remains taboo, both in the "news' business and in Hollywood--that is until Hollywood executives watched trailers for the anti-war documentary--The Last War Crime."
Since it first circulated a trailer on the web; it has been heavily censored and cyber attacked. You Tube has removed it at intermittent intervals and MTV (which is owned by Viacom) has refused to sell air time for a commercial.
Written, produced and directed by this new talent known only as "The Pen", in an interview with Jeanine Molloff, he said: "The people who committed these war crimes believe they can escape accountability by changing the way people think, by selling the American people on the idea that torture was a great thing that got us wonderful intelligence to protect us. But the only people making these arguments are the torturers themselves and their propaganda advocates. All other percipient witnesses confirm the opposite, which we knew already, that torture does not even work, and that any actionable intelligence they got was obtained before they started torturing people. So part of the mission of this movie is to counter their ongoing lies initiative, to change the way people think back to the truth, and then we can have good policy change, which is political change."
Obstruction to freedom of speech and the right to dissent, "The Pen" said "Obviously we are telling a story that certain people don't want heard. The American people believe that we have free speech. It was on that justification that the Supreme Court said in the Citizens United decision that the gloves were off, and that corporations with unlimited war chests should be permitted to flood our political process with money favoring their point of view. But now we see that the other side of that bargain was a fraud, that these same corporations believe they can discriminate against points of view they disagree with. So for the actual people, we find that even if we have the money, we cannot even BUY "free" speech."
He further said "The soul of America is on trial right now. We have thrown not just international law overboard, we have repudiated our own long established law. We have always considered waterboarding to be torture. We have always prosecuted waterboarding in the past as torture. So what's the difference now, that the war criminals have a big "R" after their names? We are called by history, the real history, to stand up and speak out about this, to bring America back to its highest calling.
One of the key scenes, he says, in the movie is our waterboarding scene, and that's the first preview clip we posted on YouTube. Next thing you know we got a notice from YouTube that they had blocked the video. Someone, probably a single right wing operative we think, made the false complaint that there was nudity or pornography in it. But using the same resources we have to send messages to Congress, we rallied more that 7,000 people to send protests to YouTube and they were forced to put the clip back up.
Then America's (and perhaps the world's) widest TV network MTV refused to carry a 60-second paid trailer about the documentary The Last War Crime.
MTV, which is just a division of Viacom Inc., one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, with more than 170 different affiliated networks and a worldwide audience of 600 million.
The trailer of The Last War Crime which the MTV rejected can be seen at http://www.lastwarcrime.com.
How Obama abandoned accountability for Bush-Cheney torture regimen
In its refusal to investigate the Bush-era torture practices, President Obama himself declaring that he prefers to look forward, not backward, the Obama administration announced June 30 (2011) that it would shut down 99 investigations into deaths of prisoners in US custody during the “war on terror,” leaving only two investigations with the potential to develop into criminal prosecutions.
Overwhelming evidence of torture by the Bush administration obliges President Barack Obama to order a criminal investigation into allegations of detainee abuse authorized by former President George W. Bush and other senior officials, Human Rights Watch said in a report released July 12, 2011. 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, Human Rights Watch noted.
The 107-page report, "Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees," presents substantial information warranting criminal investigations of Bush and senior administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and CIA Director George Tenet, for ordering practices such as "waterboarding," the use of secret CIA prisons, and the transfer of detainees to countries where they were tortured.
"There are solid grounds to investigate Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Tenet for authorizing torture and war crimes," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "President Obama has treated torture as an unfortunate policy choice rather than a crime. His decision to end abusive interrogation practices will remain easily reversible unless the legal prohibition against torture is clearly reestablished."
Senior US officials did not physically commit acts of abuse. However, civilian superiors and military commanders can be held criminally liable as principals if they order, induce, instigate, aid, or abet in the commission of a crime. This is a principle recognized both in US and international law.
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), adopted June 8, 1977, 1125 U.N.T.S. 3, entered into force December 7, 1978, which is recognized as customary laws of war is one form of international law.
ICRC, Customary International Humanitarian Law, rule 152 is another.
This is what the HRW report of July 12 (2011) says about accountability, a term the Obama administration uses very broadly when discussing human rights issues of other nations: “Most crucially, the US commitment to human rights in combating terrorism will remain suspect unless and until the current administration confronts the past. Only by fully and forthrightly dealing with those responsible for systematic violations of human rights after September 11 will the US government be seen to have surmounted them.
“Without real accountability for these crimes, those who commit abuses in the name of counterterrorism will point to the US mistreatment of detainees to deflect criticism of their own conduct. Indeed, when a government as dominant and influential as that of the United States openly defies laws prohibiting torture, a bedrock principle of human rights, it virtually invites others to do the same. The US government’s much-needed credibility as a proponent of human rights was damaged by the torture revelations and continues to be damaged by the complete impunity for the policymakers implicated in criminal offenses.”
- Asian Tribune –