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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/13/09

ICRC's Damning Exposé of US Torture

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On March 12, Mark Danner, in a New York Times op-ed and The New York Review of Books, wrote about the ICRC's revelations of "US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites." He said George Bush (in 2007) "informed the world that the United States had created a dark and secret universe to hold and interrogate captured 'terrorists,' " - at locations outside America, Guantanamo and elsewhere.

Operated by the CIA, it "used an alternative set of procedures....designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful."

He lied to conceal what this writer called "Torture As Official US Policy" in a July 18, 2008 article. It was authorized at the highest government levels and confirmed by a virtual blizzard of official documents beginning with a September 17, 2001 secret finding empowering CIA to "Capture, Kill, or Interrogate Al-Queda Leaders." It authorized establishing a secret global network of facilities to detain and interrogate them without guidelines on proper treatment.

It was followed on November 13 by Military Order Number 1 that amounted to a coup d'etat on constitutional freedoms and hinted at what would follow. It let the president, on his say alone, capture, kidnap or arrest anyone, anywhere in the world, then hold them indefinitely in secret locations, without charge, evidence, or due process in a court of law.

Various other documents, findings, Executive Orders, and memos authorized interrogation practices amounting to torture. Most infamous were two memos by John Yoo (as deputy assistant attorney general), Alberto Gonzales (as White House counsel), Jay Bybee (now a federal judge), and David Addington (as Dick Cheney's chief of staff and legal counsel).

On August 2, 2002, they argued for letting interrogators use harsh measures amounting to torture, OK'd them against "terrorists" during wartime, and said US and international laws don't apply for overseas interrogations.

On March 14, 2003, the same quartet issued another memo titled "Military Interrogation of Alien Unlawful Combatants Held Outside the United States." It became known as the "Torture Memo" because it erased all legal restraints and authorized military interrogators to use extreme measures amounting to torture. It also gave the president "the fullest range of protect the nation (and stated he) enjoys complete discretion in the exercise of his authority in conducting operations against hostile forces."

In December 2002, Donald Rumsfeld, as Defense Secretary, approved a menu of illegal interrogation techniques consisting of anything short of what would cause organ failure. He issued direct orders to military commanders to conduct them against "suspected terrorists," meaning anyone in their custody.

Under George Bush, torture was official policy. It remains so under Barack Obama in defiance of US and international laws that prohibit it under all circumstances, at all times, with no exceptions allowed ever. Under the Constitution's Article VI (the supremacy clause), international law is part of US law, and US presidents take an oath under Article II, Section 1, Clause 7 to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution." Article II, Section 3 requires the president to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully exercised."

The US Code's Title 18, Chapter 113C (2340) defines torture as follows:

-- any "act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering....upon another person within his custody or physical control;"

-- it includes "infliction or threatened infliction" of severe mental or physical pain and suffering, including use of "mind-altering substances;"

-- threatening "imminent death;" and/or

-- "the threat that another person" will be subjected to any or all of the above listed offenses.

Various US laws prohibit torture in any form for any purpose, including the 1994 Torture Statute and 1996 War Crimes Act. Numerous international laws do as well, including the:

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