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Report Says White House Rejected All Advice from Government Agencies That Torture Was Illegal

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REPORT NAMES 30 BUSH OFFICIALS COMPLICIT IN TORTURE

President Bush and his aides repeatedly ignored warnings that their torture plans were illegal from high State Department officials as well as the nation’s top uniformed legal officers, the Judge Advocates General of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, a new published report states.

“These warnings of illegality and immorality given by knowledgeable and experienced (government) persons were ignored by the small group of high Executive officers who were determined that America would torture and abuse its prisoners and who had the decision-making power to secretly require this to be done,” said Lawrence Velvel, chairman of the “Steering Committee of the Justice Robert H. Jackson Conference On Planning For The Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals.” Velvel is a noted reformer in the field of American legal education.

“Far from American officials and lawyers authorizing or engaging in torture because it was lawful, they authorized and engaged in it because they wanted to (and) kept their actions secret from interested officials for as long as they could lest there be strong opposition to the torture and abuse they were perpetrating,” Velvel said. “They deliberately ignored repeated warnings that the torture and abuse were illegal and could lead to prosecutions, and they ignored these warnings even when they came from high level civilian and military officers.”

A preliminary Report by the Steering Committee seeking Federal prosecution of American officials “who ordered, authorized, approved or committed war crimes,” released January 9th, 2009, says they are guilty of “wholesale” violations of statutes that include Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the Federal War Crimes Act, the Convention Against Torture, plus numerous other violations of U.S. and international laws.

The Report said prisoners were subjected to savage beatings, sleep deprivation, slow drowning, hanging by chains, being slammed head-first into concrete walls, temperature extremes, food deprivation, burial alive in coffin-like boxes for extended periods, and even threats against their families.

Among other things, the Report charges the General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA), knowingly approved of at least 117 renditions to torture and that such renditions were “personally encouraged by President George W. Bush…”

In addition to President Bush, those named for prosecution by the Steering Committee include:

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Vice President Dick Cheney and his former chief of staff and legal counsel David Addington, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and her predecessor Colin Powell, former Attorneys-General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and his aide Alice Fisher, former deputy assistant Attorney General; and Tim Flanigan, a deputy White House attorney.

Also named by the Steering Committee is I. Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, former assistant to President Bush. Libby was convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to Federal investigators in the Valerie Plame affair. President Bush commuted Libby’s 30-month prison sentence. Additionally, Douglas Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; Defense Undersecretary Stephen Cambone, General Michael Dunlavey, and Major General Geoffrey Miller, former commander of Guantanamo prison, Cuba.

CIA officials cited in the Report are former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet; Cofer Black, head of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center; James Pavitt, former CIA Deputy Director for Operations; General Counsel Scott Muller; Acting General Counsel John Rizzo; David Becker; contract officer James Mitchell, and an unidentified woman that formerly headed the CIA’s Al Qaeda unit and also briefed President Bush.

Among the lawyers guilty of war crimes are former Assistant Attorneys General Jay Bybee and John Yoo; Defense Department chief legal officer Jim Haynes; Robert Delahunty, special counsel with Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice; Patrick Philbin, deputy assistant Attorney General; Steven Bradbury, head of the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel; Lt. Col. Diane Beaver, a former Staff Judge at Guantanamo; Mary Walker, General Counsel of the Air Force and Jack Goldsmith, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice.

“Torture and abuse were discussed at meetings of the so-called Principals Committee, where George Tenet presented graphic details of interrogations to a Committee which included some of Bush’s highest associates, including Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and Cheney and, at times, John Yoo.

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The above-mentioned Bush officials were involved in shaping or carrying out torture policies despite written and/or verbal warnings given by high government officials in the Pentagon, State Department, FBI, and other agencies. Among these objectors were:

# William Howard Taft IV, the Legal Advisor to the State Department whose 40-page memo of January 11, 2002 warned Bush’s claim the Geneva Conventions were not applicable to prisoners held by the U.S. could subject Bush to prosecution for war crimes. State Department lawyer David Bowker further warned “there is no such thing” as a person that is not covered by the Geneva Conventions.

# The Defense Department’s own Criminal Investigative Task Force headed by Col. Brittain Mallow warned Haynes that tactics used at Guantanamo could be illegal. His warning were ignored by Haynes, whose position was based on statements of Yoo and Chertoff.

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http://davidswanson.org
David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
 

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