Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Accountability for Death by Torture

A number of bloggers, writing as part of an ACLU-initiated campaign to bring accountability for torture -- by stopping the drive for reconstituted military commissions and indefinite detention, and getting an independent prosecutor to investigate and bring charges against those who planned and implemented torture -- are highlighting the issue of deaths by torture under the Bush regime.

Read the selections below, then go to the ACLU site and do something to make a difference! They've got simple web tools that will help you do everything from write a letter to the editor to post on Facebook.


Glenn Greenwald has written The suppressed fact: Deaths by U.S. torture
The interrogation and detention regime implemented by the U.S. resulted in the deaths of over 100 detainees in U.S. custody -- at least. While some of those deaths were the result of "rogue" interrogators and agents, many were caused by the methods authorized at the highest levels of the Bush White House, including extreme stress positions, hypothermia, sleep deprivation and others. Aside from the fact that they cause immense pain, that's one reason we've always considered those tactics to be "torture" when used by others -- because they inflict serious harm, and can even kill people. Those arguing against investigations and prosecutions -- that we Look to the Future, not the Past -- are thus literally advocating that numerous people get away with murder.
Marcy Wheeler has written 04-309: Death from Torture
Now I'm no doctor--and I definitely can't make sense of the cardiac findings. But it sounds like "stress positions," "sleep deprivation," "walling," and "water dousing" are all leading candidates to have caused the death of 04-309. Or, to use the terms used for techniques approved for use by one Special Forces group in Iraq until May 18, 2004, about a month after 04-309's death, "safety positions," "sleep adjustment/sleep management," "change of environment/ environmental manipulation," and "mild physical contact." It doesn't really matter what you call the techniques, though, because they amount to torture that--in the case of an apparently healthy 27 year old man--appear to have killed him in three days time.

A lot of people--from the CIA to Cheney to the torture apologists--want this debate to be about waterboarding, a technique they've only admitted to using with three detainees, and a technique that--as far as we know--did not kill anyone in US custody. But that distracts from the other techniques that just as much torture, the ones that were killing Iraqi civilians in a matter of days.
drational, at Daily Kos, has written Torture Autopsy Reveals Death by Enhanced Interrogation
Habibullah was being interrogated by the military. Upon autopsy he was clothed only in an adult diaper. Because he was taken from his cell to the Bagram medical facility "dead on arrival" it is likely he was wearing a diaper when he was found "unresponsive, restrained in his cell" (hanging shackled from the ceiling). This is consistent with the nudity and use of diapering during "sleep deprivation" approved by Rumsfeld and described as part of the protocols for CIA interrogation during one technique: sleep deprivation- in which the detainee is shackled standing or sitting for up to 7 1/2 days straight. We have learned from the 2005 Bradbury memos that sleep deprivation causes venous stasis in the legs and has led to severe leg edema. We know that Habibullah was shackled to the ceiling of his cell for sleep deprivation, where he was ultimately found dead. This scenario is reinforced by a citation of a DOD criminal investigation report in the recently released Senate Armed Services Committee Report on Detainee Treatment (PDF). This citation noted that "the use of stress positions and sleep deprivation combined with other mistreatment at the hands of Bagram personnel, caused or were direct contributing factors in the two homicides [Habibullah and Dilawar]."
And for pure beauty of exposition, don't miss bmaz's article, On the Rule of Law and Crimes of Torture.
What do you say to citizens who say we cannot have accountability, cannot address what has been done in our name because now is:
...not the time to let fly the dogs of revenge. With all the pressing issues facing this country and the world right now, tearing the country apart would be a terrible thing to do. Iran, North Korea, the Middle East, Health Care, Energy, the deficit, imigration, etc. It would be insane to do so.
The Founders gave us the answer to that conundrum. You follow the Rule of Law. You uphold the Constitution, what it stands for, and honor every drop of blood spilled since the Revolution to establish and defend it. You honor your oath to office. You do the right thing and have accountability on the merits. That is what you do, and it is time for a concerted effort from the grassroots to demand just that. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, those who would give up the essential Rule of Law for temporary security and political gain, deserve neither.

No comments:

Search for Info/News on Torture

Google Custom Search
Add to Google ">View blog reactions

This site can contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my effort to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.