George W. Bush creeps back into the news occasionally. Recently it was because he chose to cancel a speaking engagement in Switzerland rather than face a Swiss legal obligation to investigate if a torturer is on their soil. Bush has incomprehensibly managed to avoid an inquiry at home as the current administration continues to ignore U.S. law by not prosecuting him. The consequences of giving immunity to torturers are real, with cascading repercussions. When torture is ignored, it continues.
The Center for Constitutional Rights had been busy drawing up a preliminary indictment should Bush show his smirk in neutral Switzerland. You can download a PDF of the 42-page indictment from the CCR website at www.ccrjustice.org. The evidence speaks as loudly as Bush’s own words while promoting his book, “Decision Points.” He told The Times of London that “three people were waterboarded, and I believe that decision saved lives.”
The U.S. is a signer of the Geneva Convention and the U.N. Convention Against Torture, and in violation of both. Indications are that American “exceptionalism” is alive and well under President Obama. Afghanistan’s secret prison, Bagram, is America’s largest military detention facility. It continues to hold “classified” interrogations of “enemy combatants.” Read “Obama’s torture scorecard” at www.indy
week.com. The references include Obama’s refusal to investigate torture and war crimes by U.S. officials.
The government would rather try whistleblower Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, whose lawyer’s opening statement explains Manning’s actions that exposed U.S. wrongdoings. “When we let the aerial slaughter of civilian noncombatants pass without comment or review, when a reported 92 children die from an American air strike on an Afghan village and 18 civilians are shot dead on a Baghdad street without the slightest accountability … the honor of your country and mine is at stake and at risk.”
Manning himself has been on the receiving end of U.S. torturers. After speaking out, Manning’s pretrial detention included seven months of solitary confinement in an attempt to get a plea bargain and keep the case quiet. Oops. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture has classified Manning’s treatment as sufficiently brutal as to warrant investigation.
Bradley Manning tried to stop illegal torture and abuse of prisoners, and then suffered his own torture at U.S. hands. This is evidence of the bad result of compromising fundamental human rights. Laws against torture must be enforced, and torturers must face consequences for breaking the law.
Hannah B. Hayes is a former Both Sides Now debate columnist, small-business owner and peace activist. She has been a part of the Evergreen community for more than 35 years.