On June 26, 1987, the Convention Against Torture (CAT) was entered into force by the United Nations. The CAT forbids governments from deliberately inflicting severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon those under their control, prohibits the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and bars the transfer or the rendition of persons to countries where they could be at risk of being tortured.
On June 29, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the military commission system, which allow the admission of evidence possibly obtained through torture and were developed to try prisoners in U.S. custody lacked "the power to proceed because its structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949."
And on June 24, 2008, 15 veteran interrogators retired from the U.S. military, FBI and CIA released a statement declaring torture and other abusive tactics "ineffective and counterproductive."
All of these June milestones, along with the fact that today is the U.N. International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, make this month, and especially this day, a good time to reflect on the fact that we have yet to hold a single highly-level U.S. official responsible for the torture and abusive techniques that they authorized. Join us in calling on Attorney General Mukasey to appoint an independent prosecutor to ensure that any criminal acts are investigated and prosecuted without partisan interference, and on Congress to investigate how high in the administration crimes of torture and abuse were ordered or authorized. Recent hearings in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, including one today, were a good start.
As the president himself said on this day five years ago, "[t]hese despicable crimes cannot be tolerated by a world committed to justice."