Will Obama Follow Bush Down the Made-Up Torture Loophole?

Twenty years ago, the United States ratified an international treaty banning the use of torture and cruelty worldwide. Three successive American presidents, with bipartisan support, threw their weight behind the treaty – Ronald Reagan signed it in 1988, George H.W. Bush approved it, and Bill Clinton signed implementing legislation into law in 1994.

But less than a decade later, the administration of George W. Bush took it apart. To justify the torture of prisoners in American custody abroad, the Bush administration decided that the sweeping prohibitions enshrined in the Convention Against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment just didn't apply.

President Obama took a critical step on his second day in office when he signed an executive order reinforcing the ban on torture. But the legacy of the torture program is still with us in many ways. This past weekend, we learned from a New York Times report that the Obama administration is considering reaffirming the Bush-era position that the ban on cruel treatment doesn't apply when the United States is operating abroad.

Interactive Infographic: The Torture Architects>>

This is nothing more than a fabricated loophole that does terrible damage to one of the world's most important human rights instruments. Simply put, the ban against torture and ill-treatment is universal and applies everywhere the U.S. government exercises, directly or indirectly, de facto or de jure control over people in detention. We echo the call of the New York Times editorial board to "close the overseas torture loophole."

The United Nations will review American compliance with the convention in November. Ahead of the review, the ACLU has submitted a report to the U.N. Committee Against Torture, highlighting the areas in which the U.S. government has failed to uphold its human rights obligations under the convention.

In the meanwhile, we continue to wait for the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA torture program. The summary of the comprehensive report, the product of years of work, is being held up by negotiations over the executive branch's excessive redactions, no doubt attempts to keep secret some of the most damning findings and evidence of the terrible crimes our country committed.

In case you're rusty, we are releasing today an interactive infographic that covers most of the top architects of the U.S. torture program. You'll see plenty of familiar faces from the highest levels of power.

So brush up – because the torture secrets are coming. Accountability, we hope, will follow.

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Anonymous

Let us forget the Torture treaties they are being ignored and we are being told that they don't operate when the US is abroad so lets use the treaty that we do know operates abroad, Geneva, when George W Bush tried to make his Presidential rules ignoring Geneva for the prisoners caught in Afghanistan, there was a resulting case called Hamden V Rumsfeld which made comment that ALL the Prisoners had at the least Common Article 3 status they were in fact prisoners with Geneva Rights, this much was acknowledged by the Supreme Court of the United States, now if a prisoner has ONE Geneva right he has every Geneva Right pursuant to his status and as the SCOTUS has accepted that one RIGHT it MUST by definition accept they have all Rights pursuant to the Treaty in accordance with that Status! Geneva Schedule 4 (treatment of Civilians) states at Article 148

No High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contracting Party of any liability incurred by itself or by another High Contracting Party in respect of breaches referred to in the preceding Article.

Article 147

Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the present Convention: wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.

If they however are POW's the relevant numbers in Schedule 3 are 131 and 130

Geneva is also clear on what MUST be done in the cases of Torture and Mis treatment of Prisoners! Article 146

The High Contracting Parties undertake to enact any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present Convention defined in the following Article.

Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such High Contracting Party has made out a prima facie case.

Each High Contracting Party shall take measures necessary for the suppression of all acts contrary to the provisions of the present Convention other than the grave breaches defined in the following Article.

In all circumstances, the accused persons shall benefit by safeguards of proper trial and defence, which shall not be less favourable than those provided by Article 105 and those following of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of August 12, 1949.

The Geneva Conventions were ratified and there is sufficient Jurisprudence Precedent to say that they do relate to the Overseas activities of the United States, as the United States of America expects its enemies to uphold them overseas!

The Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the rights and their existence, of Geneva, it is time to use Geneva to prosecute these as what they are War Crimes against Prisoners, whether they are Civilian Prisoners which under Hamden the Supreme Court has already ruled that they have status, OR as POW's which for members of the Taliban there is a good argument that they have Schedule 3 status!

RETUSAF

Why not, Obama will be going on the war crimes list for murdering citizens by drone strikes which includes over 200 children. Adding torture means little. The families of the murdered want their day in court. Why do you think Bush does not travel overseas? Him and Obama will be in the same boat, anchored to the US.

Anonymous

Let us forget the torture of my loved one who was burned alive until he was so dead no physical evidence remains to prove he ever existed on the face of the earth.
His name and situation has never even entered into the minds of the so-called "people who care about humanity."
Just not ERIC'S "humanity." Only for the people who turned him into a living bonfire.
And there's nothing sick or disgusting about that concept, is there?

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