May 17, 2009
Lost in all the blather about Nancy Pelosi, the CIA, and torture is a stark fact generally ignored by the corporate media and the Sunday news show talking heads — not only did the United States torture, it murdered the tortured.
|John Sifton, a reporter and researcher for Human Rights, talks with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman about torture-homicide.|
John Sifton, a reporter and researcher for Human Rights, wrote about the estimated 100 detainees murdered in May 5 for The Daily Beast, but his report was more or less ignored. David Edwards and Stephen Webster picked up the story on May 15 for Raw Story after Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviewed Sifton (see video on this page).
As Sifton told Goodman, Human Right Watch and other groups knew about the torture-homicides back in 2003. “The killings, at least some of them, have hardly been kept secret,” writes Sifton. “As early as May-June 2003, The New York Times and Washington Post reported on deaths of detainees in Afghanistan. Two detainees at Bagram air base died after extensive beatings by U.S. troops in December 2002 — a case reported by The New York Times and that was also the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side. Another death involved a man beaten to death by a CIA contractor at a base in Asadabad, in eastern Afghanistan, in June 2003.”
Human Rights First determined in 2006 that nearly 100 detainees died in U.S. custody in Afghanistan and Iraq facilities as of 2005, and that almost half of the cases were clearly homicides. “The government is not unaware of these homicides. In April 2006, a colleague of mine at Human Rights Watch and I met with Department of Justice criminal-division officials and requested information and updates on this case and several others. Justice officials were familiar with these cases, but our pleas for information were rejected,” writes Sifton.
“The bottom line is that many detainee homicides in Iraq and Afghanistan were the direct result of approval and orders from the highest levels of government, and that high officials in the government are accomplices. Any meaningful investigation of those homicides would reveal the initial authorizations and their link to the homicides.”
John Sifton says Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice cannot conclude their deliberations about Bush-era torture policies without closely investigating the homicide cases tied to them.
The Obama administration has used a “legal parlor trick” to make sure torture — and presumably torture-murder — continues, according to James Hill, a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery. On January 22, 2009, Obama signed a number of executive orders supposedly designed to end the Bush administration’s abusive practices in dealing with terrorism suspects, but these contain loopholes big enough to drive a Mack truck through, Hill noted on January 26, 2009. “Labeling detainees the product of counterterrorism operations rather than of armed conflict, or holding detainees in detention facilities operated by entities other than the CIA, may allow government agents and private contractors conforming to the letter of the president’s order to continue practices most would consider torture.”
[efoods]“Obama insisted that investigations of Bush-Cheney would disturb the Toscanini-like symphony he had promised to the political class in the corridors of power,” writes Bruce Fein. “In sweeping the Bush-Cheney lawlessness under the rug, Obama has set a precedent of whitewashing White House lawlessness in the name of national security that will lie around like a loaded weapon ready for resurrection by any commander in chief eager to appear ‘tough on terrorism’ and to exploit popular fear. Obama urges that the crimes were justified because the duumvirate acted to protect the nation from international terrorism.”
In other words, the “the political class in the corridors of power” will make certain such crimes continue, as there is little difference between the Bush and Obama administrations. Obama, or rather the “political class” that pulls his strings, “will do whatever is required,” especially if he sees “information that would” change his mind about the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” that is to say torture and murder (see President Obama Won’t Rule Out Torture).
Last month, Obama and leading Democrats indicated they will block any independent commission to investigate torture (and murder). “According to press reports, Obama told Congressional Democrats that any sort of investigation of the torture, which was carried out on the orders of top officials and in blatant violation of domestic and international law, would use up too much time and would likely expand into other areas of Bush administration criminality,” Tom Eley wrote on April 27. “Now in power, the Democrats have no intention of dissolving the panoply of anti-democratic measures enacted by the Bush administration in the ‘war on terror.’ Indeed, the Obama Justice Department has gone into court repeatedly in an attempt to quash legal challenges to torture, extraordinary rendition and illegal domestic spying.”
Not only will the torture-murder of hapless detainees continue, but the mass murder juggernaut Obama inherited — or rather now represents as the selected front man — will continue to roll on with its macabre and criminal death dance. So far, according to the prestigious medical journal Lancet and other investigations, well over a million Iraqis have died as a direct result of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, a number that exceeds the 800,000 to 900,000 believed killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is approaching the number (1.7 million) who died in Cambodia (with U.S. support of the murderous Khmer Rouge).
Obama has promised to add numbers to the death toll in Afghanistan and Pakistan where “Obama will… continue his predecessor’s policies in the region… to protect the oil pipelines, and to resume the encircling of Russia and China under the guise of wanting to destroy the mythical Al Qaeda and its leader the late OBL,” as the Rev. Richard Skaff notes. Obama is dedicated to “the mythical and contrived war on terror” and will continue “the policy of the previous administration and of the money masters. Obama like every other president, chose expediency over truth and justice. He is after all another front man, namely a politician.”
Torture and torture-related murder are merely additional tools in the “mythical and contrived war on terror,” as Obama insists.