The following is not breaking news, it was reported in March of 2005.
The United States has committed “grave violations of human rights” against prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament said in a report on Friday.
“We recommend that the government make it clear to the United States administration, both in public and private, that such treatment of detainees is unacceptable,” the committee wrote in its influential annual report on human rights.
The report called on the British government to make clear if it uses intelligence passed on by other countries that may have been gained by torturing suspects.
The committee said it was “surprising and unsettling” that the government had twice failed to answer whether British officials receive information extracted under torture by a third country.
Our biggest ally is under no illusions that we have been torturing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. But that doesn’t keep Bush’s press secretary, Tony Snow, from lying about it. Last Friday the Pentagon issued a memo “ordering that all detainees be treated in compliance with Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which requires humane treatment and a minimum standard of judicial protections.”
The White House spokesman Tony Snow said today that the Pentagon memo was “not really a reversal of policy,’’ since detainees were already being treated humanely.
A Pentagon attorney, testifying before the Senate Judiciary committee, also insisted that there has been no change in policy. But, of course, the Bush administration has always insisted that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to ‘enemy combatants’ and that is the reason they came up with a special designation for them. If they had been considered prisoners of war we could not have tortured them with even a facade of legality.
The Bush administration is now backpedaling, having been rebuked by the Supreme Court. They hope to address the Court’s concerns through legislation in Congress. In other words, they still want to go with Military Tribunals. However, Lindsay Graham warned them:
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican who has taken the lead on several issues related to treatment of detainees, told Mr. Bradbury [a Justice Department official] bluntly that it would get much farther by seeking changes in traditional courts-martial to allow looser hearsay rules and other exceptions for classified information.
By pursuing modifications to the established code of military justice, “we can end up with a system we can all be proud of,” said Mr. Graham, a former military prosecutor. But pushing to hang onto tribunals by making a few changes would mean the administration is in for “a long, hot summer” on the issue, he said.
In the hearing, Joe Biden served up another zinger.
“I find it difficult for us to buy in to the notion that let’s just trust the president’s judgment,” Mr. Biden said. “God love him, his judgment has been terrible.”
That’s an understatement. Patrick Leahy asked for the obvious and received bunkum in return.
“Is there any admission on the part of the Bush-Cheney administration that perhaps they were wrong?” the senator pressed Mr. Bradbury.
Mr. Bradbury replied that, historically, the executive branch had always exercised the authority to establish tribunals “in time of war and armed conflict.”
Read Amnesty International’s memorandum to the US government on torture and Guantánamo from June 23, 2006. You can email Dick Cheney about his war crimes: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call the White House by phone: