Friday, January 16, 2009

Torture and its consequences

Dahlia Lithwick points to an important consequence of the admission by Susan Crawford, the convening authority for the Guantanamo Military commission, former chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, former Inspector General of the Department of Defense, former General Counsel for the Department of the Army, that the US had indeed tortured a prisoner.
"We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.

Not indulged in activities that "could produce effects reaching the level of torture," but plain outright "tortured." Having a senior government official declare that his treatment met the legal definition of torture leads immediately to the next step. As Lithwick points out under Article 4 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.
Upon being satisfied, after an examination of information available to it, that the circumstances so warrant, any State Party in whose territory a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is present shall take him into custody or take other legal measures to ensure his presence.
It is incumbent, by law, on the Justice department that they pursue criminal charges against those who committed torture and who were complicit in the torture. This is not a choice that the Justice department or the President-elect can make. They are required under the laws of the land to prosecute the torturers and those complicit in the torture. If, of course, we are a nation of laws.
(h/t Obsidian Wings via The SideShow )

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