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Real News CEO Paul Jay talks with Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights about the Obama Administration doing everything they can do to “run away” from the whole issue of accountability for the premeditated, organized and institutionalized torture program of the Bush Administration, about the need for real transparency as opposed to the false claims of transparency from Obama while reports and information are held back or heavily redacted before release, and about demands now coming from UN human rights advocate Navi Pillay for holding accountable senior Bush Administration officials.
Obama Vows to Deal With Torture, But His Pledge Doesn’t Apply to the Bush Administration
by Jason Leopold
President Barack Obama just announced that the U.S. government “must stand against torture wherever it takes place,” but it’s clear that his pledge does not apply to torture committed by officials from the Bush administration.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Obama quietly released a statement on Friday in which he said, “My administration is committed to taking concrete actions against torture and to address the needs of its victims.”
Obama’s statement left out his decision to “look forward, not backward” on the issue of Bush-era torture or how he has discouraged any investigation of former President George W. Bush, ex-Vice President Dick Cheney and other officials involved in sanctioning and practicing torture, brutal tactics that human groups claim killed at least 100 prisoners in U.S. custody.
Taking office in January, Obama announced that his administration would not condone or practice torture, but he also opposed holding Bush administration officials accountable out of fear that his actions might be deemed vindictive. He has held to that position although Attorney General Eric Holder and CIA Director Leon Panetta both agreed that the near-drowning experience of waterboarding was torture.
Bush’s Justice Department lawyers also approved a list of other torture techniques to be used against so-called “high-value” prisoners, including beatings, sleep deprivation for 11 consecutive days, placing insects inside a confinement box to induce fear, exposing detainees to extreme heat and cold, and shackling prisoners to the ceilings of their prison cells or in other painful “stress positions.”
Under the Convention Against Torture, the clear record that the Bush administration used waterboarding and other brutal techniques should have triggered the United States to conduct a full investigation and to prosecute the offenders. If the United States refused, other nations would be obligated to act under the principle of universality.
Instead, Obama’s high-minded declaration on Friday substituted words for action.
Everyone Should See “Torturing Democracy”
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship