Reading the 499-page torture report just released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was a disgusting experience. Even after many years of writing books and articles about the Bush torture policy, I was unprepared for the atrocious pattern of crimes our government committed against other human beings in our name.
One of the most hideous techniques the CIA plied on detainees was called "rectal rehydration" or "rectal feeding" without medical necessity - a sanitized description of rape by a foreign object. A concoction of pureed "hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins" was forced into the rectum of one detainee. Another was subjected to "rectal rehydration" to establish the interrogator's "total control over the detainee." This constitutes illegal, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a humiliating outrage upon personal dignity.
Several detainees were waterboarded, a technique whereby water is poured into the nose and mouth to cause the victim to think he's drowning. One detainee in CIA custody was tortured on the waterboard 183 times; another was waterboarded 83 times. Waterboarding has long been considered torture, which is a war crime. Indeed, the United States hung Japanese military leaders for the war crime of torture after World War II.
Other "enhanced interrogation techniques" (EIT) included being slammed into walls, hung from the ceiling, kept in total darkness, deprived of sleep - sometimes with forced standing - for up to seven and one-half days, forced to stand on broken limbs for hours on end, threatened with mock execution, confined in a coffin-like box for 11 days, bathed in ice water, dressed in diapers. One detainee "literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled."
The executive summary of the torture report was made public, but the 6,700-page report remains classified. The summary depicts the CIA at best, as keystone cops, at worst, as pathological, lying, sadistic war criminals. The CIA lied repeatedly about the effectiveness of the torture and cruel treatment. Interrogations of detainees were much more brutal than the CIA represented to government officials and the American public.
Bush's CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden should be charged with crimes, along with their minions who carried out the torture.
Obama Violates Constitutional Duty
In light of the gruesome revelations in the torture report, it is high time President Barack Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty to enforce the law. The US Constitution states the president "shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed." Yet Obama refuses to sanction prosecutions of those responsible for the torture.
The report documents torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, all of which violate US and international law. The War Crimes Act punishes torture as a war crime. The Torture Statute (Statute) provides that whoever "outside the United States" commits or attempts to commit torture shall be imprisoned for not more than 20 years "and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life."
The statute defines torture as an "act intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon another person within his custody or physical control."
When the United States ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Geneva Conventions, we promised to prosecute or extradite those who commit or are complicit in the commission of torture. A ratified treaty is part of US law under the Constitution's Supremacy Clause. Yet the Obama administration persists in its refusal to bring the culprits to justice.
On January 11, 2009, nine days before Obama was sworn into office, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News confronted the newly elected president with the "most popular question on your own website, change.gov"- whether Obama would investigate torture by members of the Bush administration. Obama responded:
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