President Bush and any of his aides that advocated or participated in torture will be the targets of legal action even after they leave office, President Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights(CCR), New York, said.
“After Bush is out of office, the Center(CCR) will pursue Bush and Cheney. We are not going to let go of these people,” said Ratner, whose organization coordinates the work of more than 600 lawyers nationally involved in defending the rights of prisoners held by the U.S. at Guantanamo, many of whom say they have been tortured.
The non-profit CCR is the leading civil rights litigating and advocacy organization in the nation.
“We think (those responsible for) this systemic program of torture (conducted by) this country have got to be made accountable whether it takes us one year or five years or ten years. And (we’re going) to go after the key architects of this torture program and make it particularly hot for them, particularly to travel to Europe,” Ratner said.
Ratner said former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and the authors of the so-called “torture memos” written by the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department could be targets. “What you can’t do as a lawyer is to advise people to find ways to escape criminality and violate the laws,” Ratner said.
“There’s no issue to me. These lawyers are deep deep into what we consider the torture conspiracy,” Ratner said.
He also said Vice President Cheney is considered to be “the architect of a lot of the torture programs” and “there’s a lot of evidence George Bush had to sign off on executive orders that approved essentially the torture program, (and) extraordinary rendition.” “We believe there is clear evidence the Bush administration went off the pages of law and implemented a torture program which essentially violated the Geneva Convention against torture and its own (U.S.) laws whether at Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib (Iraq) or Pakistan,” Ratner told Dean Lawrence Velvel of Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, host of the program, “What The Media Doesn’t Tell You,” aired globally over the World Radio Network.
Ratner said as long as the Justice Department was headed by Attorney General Gonzales and the military was headed by Donald Rumsfeld, both of whom were complicit in torture, CCR felt it had a better chance of success of initiating legal action in Germany and France based on the legal concept of “universal jurisdiction.”
This enables countries to prosecute those, such as pirates, thought to be guilty of heinous crimes, no matter where they committed their crimes or where they are arrested. Ratner noted “Rumsfeld was actually forced to flee France before we could get an arrest warrant served on him.”
“Aggressive war,” Ratner said, “is the penultimate crime because it is the crime from which all the other crimes such as mass killing or genocide flow. “ He indicated this is the case in Iraq and termed the war “clearly a violation of norms under the UN Charter.”
Ratner went on to say one of the reasons Attorney General nominee Mukasey evaded giving senators his view on waterboarding during his confirmation hearing was that if he did so “it would set up people in the CIA for prosecution” under the Anti-Torture statute.
Both the Soviet Union under Stalin and the present Chinese communist regime resorted to waterboarding, Ratner noted, “and we prosecuted WWII Japanese who used waterboarding against Filipino resistance fighters. It’s amazing to me we’re having a debate on this in this country.”
The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is a non-profit educational institution dedicated to providing a quality, affordable education to underserved populations such as minorities, immigrants, and students from families of modest means. #(Further Information: Sherwood Ross, Media Consultant to MSL, firstname.lastname@example.org)