This is from the preamble to the UN Convention Against Torture:
Considering the obligation of States under the Charter, in particular Article 55, to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms,Here's the article 5 text from the Universal Declaration:
Having regard to article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which provide that no one may be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
Having regard also to the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1975 (resolution 3452 (XXX)),
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.It was adopted by a vote of 48 to nothing with 8 abstentions. The United States was one of the 48.
Here's the article 7 text from the International Covenant:
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.This was signed by President Carter in October, 1977 and ratified by the US Senate in June 1992.
And here's the Declaration - adopted by the United Nations in 1975 - and its definition of torture:
For the purpose of this Declaration, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating him or other persons.And it includes this Article:
No State may permit or tolerate torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Exceptional circumstances such as a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may not be invoked as a justification of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.And that's just to add some background information to the UN Convention Against Torture.
And here is some of what Ronald Reagan signed in 1988:
For the purposes of this Convention, 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.And:
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.And now let's look at what happened (From the Senate report via vox.com):
An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.
On August 5, 2002,...CIA Headquarters authorized the proposed interrogation plan for [Redha] al-Najjar, to include the use of loud music (at less than the level that would cause physical harm such as perman hearing loss), worse food (as long as it was nutritionally adequate for sustenance, sleep deprivation, and hooding.And:
More than a month later, on September 21, 2002, CIA interrogators described al-Najjar as "clearly a broken man" and "on the verge of a complete breakdown" as result of the isolation. The cable added that al-Najjar was willing to do whatever the CIA officer asked.
Of the 119 known detainees, at least 26 were wrongfully held and did not meet the detention standard in the September 2001 Memorandum of Notification (MON). These included an "intellectually challenged" man whose CIA detention was used solely as leverage to get a family member to provide information...And:
Sleep deprivation invlved keeping detainees awake for up to 180 hours, usually standing or in stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads. At least five detainees experience disturbing hallucinations during prolinged sleep deprivation and, in at least two of those cases, the CIA nonetheless continued the sleep deprivation.And so on...
Regardless of any claim that the torture "produced useful intelligence that helped the United States thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives" these acts are clearly against BOTH international and US law. Clearly, these acts are cruel, inhumane and antithetical to any moral value that can be truly considered American.
Simply following orders is not a defense when it comes to torture. Saying there was a national emergency is no excuse for ordering such reprehensible acts. No one who committed them should be considered patriotic for having done so.
These are serious crimes and history demands prosecution; Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest of them who instituted and or participated in the torture need to be brought to justice. If this country lacks the political will to do so, then shame on any pragmatist who feels that looking forward is more important than looking backward. That national shame brought on by the torture will forever be on their hands if they don't prosecute.
We used to be the good guys. Not any more. Not while the torturers walk freely among us.
Prosecute the torture.
One last thing to contemplate: the Senate report more or less guarantees the torturers a permanent internal exile. Consider article 7, paragraph 1 of the UN treaty:
The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found, shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.So if say, George Bush wants to go on vacation most anyplace else on the planet, there's a provision in the law for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes.
As it should be. As it should be done here.