Wednesday, April 9, 2008

AI/PHR Letters to NY Times on Yoo Torture Memo

From the Letters to the Editor, New York Times, April 7, 2008
Re “’03 U.S. Memo Approved Harsh Interrogations” (front page, April 2):

It’s high time that the authors of the Bush administration’s legal recipe book for torture be brought out of the kitchen and into the courtroom. Yet despite volumes of highly credible evidence of human rights crimes, or even war crimes, a negligent Congress continues to fail miserably in its responsibility to mandate proper investigations into these cruel policies.

The United States’ moral and political standing in the world have completely eroded, and legitimate prosecutions of crimes against humanity against the United States have been compromised. Congress must finally face its own complicity in torture with concrete measures — not shortsighted hearings — by ordering a full, independent investigation into how torture became United States modus operandi and holding those responsible accountable.

Curt Goering
Deputy Executive Director
Amnesty International USA
New York, April 2, 2008


To the Editor:

The Bush administration attributes detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere to the rogue actions of a few soldiers and a lack of clear interrogation guidelines. But the mounting evidence, particularly the declassified memo by John C. Yoo, a former Justice Department official, proves that administration officials themselves are responsible for the torture and cruel treatment of detainees in United States custody.

The continuing effort to exempt the president from anti-torture law, among other revelations, shows that the government’s calculated policy of torture originated at the highest levels of the administration. The Justice Department’s interpretation of long-held tenets of American and international law provided the executive branch with the unlimited power to treat detainees as it saw fit.

Longstanding legal precedents were willfully twisted to justify a systematic regime of abuse employing the expertise of military psychologists and medical personnel. These “enhanced” techniques inflicted severe and lasting harm on detainees — the kind of harm explicitly criminalized by the United States War Crimes Act.

The use of these interrogation techniques has eroded our international standing and compromised the rule of law. The question is no longer who is responsible. The question now is whether they will be held accountable.

Frank Donaghue
Chief Executive
Physicians for Human Rights
Cambridge, Mass., April 3, 2008

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