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Torture Is Over (if we want it)

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Many of these detainees have been subjected to systematic abuse, including beatings, which have been subsequently documented by news reports, photographic evidence, testimony in Congress, lawsuits, and in the case of detainees in the US, by an investigation conducted by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General.

In violation of US law and the Geneva Conventions, the Bush Administration instructed the Department of Justice and the US Department of Defense to refuse to provide the identities or locations of these detainees, despite requests from Congress and from attorneys for the detainees. The president even declared the right to detain US citizens indefinitely, without charge and without providing them access to counsel or the courts, thus depriving them of their constitutional and basic human rights. Several of those US citizens were held in military brigs in solitary confinement for as long as three years before being either released or transferred to civilian detention.

Detainees in US custody in Iraq and Guantanamo have, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, been hidden from and denied visits by the International Red Cross organization, while thousands of others in Iraq, Guantanamo, Afghanistan, ships in foreign off-shore sites, and an unknown number of so-called "black sites" around the world have been denied any opportunity to challenge their detentions. The president, acting on his own claimed authority, has declared the hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to be "enemy combatants" not subject to US law and not even subject to military law, but nonetheless potentially liable to the death penalty.

The detention of individuals without due process violates the 5th Amendment. While the Bush administration has been rebuked in several court cases, most recently that of Ali al-Marri, it continues to attempt to exceed constitutional limits.

In all of these actions violating US and International law, President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and Commander in Chief, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.


ARTICLE XVIII
TORTURE: SECRETLY AUTHORIZING, AND ENCOURAGING THE USE OF TORTURE AGAINST CAPTIVES IN AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ, AND OTHER PLACES, AS A MATTER OF OFFICIAL POLICY

In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution "to take care that the laws be faithfully executed", has both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, together with the Vice President, violated United States and International Law and the US Constitution by secretly authorizing and encouraging the use of torture against captives in Afghanistan, Iraq in connection with the so-called "war" on terror.

In violation of the Constitution, US law, the Geneva Conventions (to which the US is a signatory), and in violation of basic human rights, torture has been authorized by the President and his administration as official policy. Water-boarding, beatings, faked executions, confinement in extreme cold or extreme heat, prolonged enforcement of painful stress positions, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, and the defiling of religious articles have been practiced and exposed as routine at Guantanamo, at Abu Ghraib Prison and other US detention sites in Iraq, and at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. The president, besides bearing responsibility for authorizing the use of torture, also as Commander in Chief, bears ultimate responsibility for the failure to halt these practices and to punish those responsible once they were exposed.

The administration has sought to claim the abuse of captives is not torture, by redefining torture. An August 1, 2002 memorandum from the Administration's Office of Legal Counsel Jay S. Bybee addressed to White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales concluded that to constitute torture, any pain inflicted must be akin to that accompanying "serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." The memorandum went on to state that even should an act constitute torture under that minimal definition, it might still be permissible if applied to "interrogations undertaken pursuant to the President's Commander-in-Chief powers." The memorandum further asserted that "necessity or self-defense could provide justifications that would eliminate any criminal liability."

This effort to redefine torture by calling certain practices simply "enhanced interrogation techniques" flies in the face of the Third Geneva Convention Relating to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, which states that "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind."

Torture is further prohibited by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the paramount international human rights statement adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly, including the United States, in 1948. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is also prohibited by international treaties ratified by the United States: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

When the Congress, in the Defense Authorization Act of 2006, overwhelmingly passed a measure banning torture and sent it to the President's desk for signature, the President, who together with his vice president, had fought hard to block passage of the amendment, signed it, but then quietly appended a signing statement in which he pointedly asserted that as Commander-in-Chief, he was not bound to obey its strictures.

The administration's encouragement of and failure to prevent torture of American captives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the battle against terrorism, has undermined the rule of law in the US and in the US military, and has seriously damaged both the effort to combat global terrorism, and more broadly, America's image abroad. In his effort to hide torture by US military forces and the CIA, the president has defied Congress and has lied to the American people, repeatedly claiming that the US "does not torture."

In all of these actions and decisions in violation of US and International law, President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and Commander in Chief, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

ARTICLE XIX
RENDITION: KIDNAPPING PEOPLE AND TAKING THEM AGAINST THEIR WILL TO "BLACK SITES" LOCATED IN OTHER NATIONS, INCLUDING NATIONS KNOWN TO PRACTICE TORTURE

In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution "to take care that the laws be faithfully executed", has both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, together with the Vice President, violated United States and International Law and the US Constitution by kidnapping people and renditioning them to "black sites" located in other nations, including nations known to practice torture.

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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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