Tag Archives: Guantanamo

Five Stages of Impunity for Torture

By: Kevin Gosztola Saturday September 22, 2012

 

One hallmark of the administration of President Barack Obama has been the commitment of the administration to move forward and not look back—to, as a Democratic Party operative only concerned with election results might say, not re-litigate the eight years of the administration of George W. Bush. This means no accountability for those responsible for committing torture. It means no justice for torture victims.

Professor Alfred W. McCoy, author of Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation, was on “Democracy Now!” on Friday to talk about his book. Host Amy Goodman played a clip of President Obama in his first prime-time press conference giving a slick, calculated but somewhat banal comment on whether the administration would have a truth and reconciliation commission examine the past years of the Bush administration.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My administration is going to operate in a way that leaves no doubt that we do not torture, that we abide by the Geneva Conventions, and that we observe our traditions of rule of law and due process as we are vigorously going after terrorists that can do us harm. And I don’t think those are contradictory. I think they are potentially complementary. My view is also that nobody is above the law, and if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, that people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen, but that, generally speaking, I’m more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards.

McCoy reacted to this clip saying what Obama said was an example of “the third stage of impunity.” He then went through the stages of impunity, a “universal process” that he argues “happens in countries emerging from authoritarianism that have had problems with torture.”

Step one, McCoy stated:

…is blame the bad apples. Donald Rumsfeld did that right after the Abu Ghraib scandal was exposed in 2004.

Step two is saying that it was necessary for our national security—unfortunate, perhaps, but necessary to keep us all safe. That was done very articulately by former Vice President Cheney at the time, and he continues to make that argument. He claims that these “enhanced techniques,” as he calls them, i.e. CIA torture, saved thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of lives. OK?

The third step is the step we just witnessed in President Obama, saying that, well, whatever might have happened in the past, we need unity as a nation, we need to move forward together into the future. So, the past isn’t germane. We need to put it behind us, not investigate, not prosecute. And that was the position he was taking there.

In the fourth stage, those implicated in acts of torture seek not only exoneration for their crimes but also vindication. For example, former Bush administration officials argued “enhanced interrogation under the Bush administration led the Navy SEALs to Osama bin Laden,” despite there being no evidence for the claim. They created pressure on Attorney General Eric Holder to not investigate torture and drop investigations into torture, which appears to have worked.

“The fifth and final stage,” according to McCoy, is “rewriting the history, rewriting the past, ripping it apart, without respect to the truth of the matter, and reconstructing it in a way that justifies the torture.” Vice President Dick Cheney’s appearances on news television have frequently been utilized for this purpose—to make it seem as if torture was effective in getting suspected terrorists to talk so that plots could be disrupted.

Like the Party slogan in George Orwell’s 1984, “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past,” The Party controls the records, which allows it to control all memories. That allows the Party to control the past.

This is but another vile aspect of President Barack Obama, his administration, the Democratic Party leadership’s fealty to the mantra of moving forward and not looking back now enshrined in the messaging of the Obama 2012 campaign with the simple word, “Forward.” It is but another despicable aspect of members of Congress, especially Democrats, and supporters of Obama and Democrats’ refusal to raise their voice to take issue with the administration’s inaction and active refusal to prosecute individuals for torture.

Without accountability or justice, those who were at the center of acts of torture may work to clear their name, as if they never committed any wrong. They are able to suggest that if what they had done was criminal, they would have been put on trial. They would have been charged with committing a crime, but there are no prosecutions so all the civil liberties and human rights advocates and the antiwar or peace activists may just be part of focus groups, which happen to be deluded.

No justice gives former officials license to argue there was no torture. No convictions gives former officials the conviction and brass to sit before a television camera, write a memoir or pen an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal and assert what they did was for Americans’ protection and it is wrong for them to be scrutinized or questioned.

This does a great disservice to the victims of torture, especially those still indefinitely imprisoned in Guantanamo; but it is the inevitable byproduct of the Obama administration’s complicity in allowing officials responsible for torture to walk free. To the extent that the Obama administration continues to subject prisoners to torture and outsource torture to allies in the “war on terrorism,” it is worse than complicity. It is a coverup—an act to conceal and ensure the national security state can continue to be purveyors of violence and torture against those the US contends it has a right to indefinitely hold in detention without charge or trial, without judicial or due process.

CONTINUE READING AND TO SEE FILM….

POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl US Army Captured Afghanistan 6/30/2009

bowe

Diane Gibbons Malanga

    For those who do not know this following information
    POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
    On July 18, 2009, the Taliban released a video showing they had captured Bergdahl. In the video, Bergdahl appeared downcast and frightened. A Department of Defense statement issued on July 19 confirmed that Bergdahl was declared "missing/whereabouts unknown" on July 1, and his status was changed to "missing/captured" on July 3. In the 28-minute video his captors hold up his dog tags to establish the captured man is Bergdahl. Bergdahl gives the date as July 14 and mentions an attack which occurred that day. Accounts of his capture differ. The version offered by Bergdahl, in the video, is that he was captured when he fell behind on a patrol. CNN, in its report, cites both Taliban and U.S. military sources, the former alleging he was ambushed after becoming drunk off base, and the latter denying that claim stating: "The Taliban are known for lying and what they are claiming (is) not true." A Department of Defense spokesperson, Lieutenant Commander Christine Sidenstricker, said, "I’m glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video. They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law."] According to the Associated Press, General Nabi Mullakheil of the Afghan National Police said the capture occurred in Paktika Province. Their other sources inform them that he was captured by a Taliban group led by Maulvi Sangin, who has moved him to Ghazni Province. The Guardian quoted sources who speculated about the increased difficulty of a rescue mission if Bergdahl had been smuggled across the nearby border into Pakistan. CNN described two Pashto-language leaflets the U.S. military was distributing in seeking Bergdahl. One showed a smiling GI shaking hands with Afghan children, with a caption that called him a guest in Afghanistan. The other showed a door being broken down, and threatened that those holding Bergdahl would be hunted down. In December 2009, five months after Bergdahl’s disappearance, the media arm of the Afghan Taliban announced the release of a new video of "a U.S. soldier captured in Afghanistan," titled "One of Their People Testified." In the announcement the Taliban did not name the American, but the only U.S. soldier known to be in captivity is Bergdahl. U.S. military officials have been searching for Bergdahl, but it is not publicly known whether he is even being held in Afghanistan or in neighboring Pakistan, an area off-limits to U.S. forces based in Afghanistan. On December 25, another video was released that features Bergdahl in a combat uniform and helmet. He describes his place of birth, deployment to Afghanistan and subsequent capture. He then makes several statements regarding his humane treatment by his captors, contrasting this to the abuses suffered by insurgents in prisons. He finishes by saying that America should not be in Afghanistan and that it is just another Vietnam. On April 7, 2010, the Taliban released a third video of Bergdahl, now with a full head of hair and a beard, pleading for the release of Afghan prisoners held at Guantanamo and Bagram. In November 2010, Bergdahl appeared briefly in a fourth video In May 2011, Bergdahl appeared briefly in a fifth video. In December 2011, it was reported that Bergdahl tried to escape three months earlier but was recaptured after three days.