Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Prosecute Bush!

That's the conclusion of Human Rights Watch's investigation into torture and war crimes by the Bush administration:

Overwhelming evidence of torture by the Bush administration obliges President Barack Obama to order a criminal investigation into allegations of detainee abuse authorized by former President George W. Bush and other senior officials, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Obama administration has failed to meet US obligations under the Convention against Torture to investigate acts of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, Human Rights Watch said.

The 107-page report, "Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees," presents substantial information warranting criminal investigations of Bush and senior administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and CIA Director George Tenet, for ordering practices such as "waterboarding," the use of secret CIA prisons, and the transfer of detainees to countries where they were tortured.

"There are solid grounds to investigate Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Tenet for authorizing torture and war crimes," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "President Obama has treated torture as an unfortunate policy choice rather than a crime. His decision to end abusive interrogation practices will remain easily reversible unless the legal prohibition against torture is clearly reestablished."

Of course, nothing will happen. US politicians consider themselves to be above the law, and will happily cover for each other to ensure that they remain so. And Obama, despite his fine rhetoric of "change", is part of this corrupt, cosy culture of unaccountability. In the eyes of US politicians, laws are for peasants, not Presidents.

...which means it will instead come down to the international community. Every civilised country in the world (including New Zealand) has universal jurisdiction for torture. And there will be strong pressure for them to exercise it whenever one of these criminals steps outside the US. The only way that pressure will disappear is if the US lives up to its values, and holds its torturers legally accountable in a court of law.