Susan Crawford, a Cheney protégée and the senior Bush administration official responsible for the military commissions in Guantánamo, told the Washington Post's Bob Woodward that she refused to approve the charges against Mohammed al-Qahtani because he had been tortured. Torture is, of course, a felony under US law, and if multiple figures are involved, it might well be "conspiracy to torture," a separate crime. As ABC News reported and President Bush later confirmed, the full book of proposed techniques to which Qahtani was subjected had been approved by the National Security Council, headed by Bush. A senior Obama Justice figure remarked after reading the Crawford interview that it would be "impossible to sweep the matter under the carpet." That's a view that seems to be shared by US allies and United Nations officials, who, pointing to Crawford's admissions, are asking why the United States has failed to introduce a criminal inquiry into how torture came to be practiced as a matter of US policy. Articles 4 and 5 of the Convention Against Torture require the United States to prohibit torture under domestic criminal law and to investigate and prosecute incidents in which it is practiced. The failure even to begin criminal investigations has placed the United States in breach of its obligations under the treaty, a point that even torture apologists like University of Chicago Law School professor Eric Posner freely concede.For those who need a reminder, here are Articles 4 and 5 of the Convention Against Torture:
Article 4And for good measure, here's Article 2:
1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.
2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.
1. Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offences referred to in article 4 in the following cases:
(a) When the offences are committed in any territory under its jurisdiction or on board a ship or aircraft registered in that State;
(b) When the alleged offender is a national of that State;
(c) When the victim is a national of that State if that State considers it appropriate.
2. Each State Party shall likewise take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over such offences in cases where the alleged offender is present in any territory under its jurisdiction and it does not extradite him pursuant to article 8 to any of the States mentioned in paragraph I of this article.
3. This Convention does not exclude any criminal jurisdiction exercised in accordance with internal law.
Article 2There's no excuse for torture. And "torture" is defined in Article 1:
1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.
Article 1And what if it isn't exactly torture?? Well, there's Article 16:
1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
Article 16The Conventions Against Torture were signed and ratified by the US Government more than a decade ago. They are US law.
1. Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article I, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. In particular, the obligations contained in articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 shall apply with the substitution for references to torture of references to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
2. The provisions of this Convention are without prejudice to the provisions of any other international instrument or national law which prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or which relates to extradition or expulsion.
Prosecute the war crimes. It's the law.
"My view is also that nobody is above the law..." President Barack Obama
"Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal." President Richard Nixon