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Green Party to Obama: Don’t obstruct justice on Bush Admin. torture

Green Party: Justice Dept. must appoint a special prosecutor to investigate
and prosecute Bush officials who OKed torture

  • Any attempt by the White House to limit investigation will be an obstruction of justice, say Green Party
  • Witness Against Torture protests planned for April 30

Green Party leaders called on Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department to investigate evidence of torture and punish any and all Bush White House officials who broke the law.  The Green Party urged President Obama to release all torture memos.

“Political considerations have no place in this matter.  The Department of Justice — which is authorized to act independently of the White House — must appoint a special prosecutor to investigate who broke the law and approved the use of torture,” said Starlene Rankin, co-chair of the Lavender Green Caucus (http://www.lavendergreens.us).

Greens named several former White House officials who have been implicated in evidence already published: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, counsel John Yoo, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and President George W. Bush.  Some Greens plan to participate in the ‘100 Days to Close Guantanamo and End Torture!’ demonstrations (http://www.100dayscampaign.org) planned for Thursday, April 30, an event initiated by Witness Against Torture (http://www.witnesstorture.org).

Green Party leaders noted that some Democratic (including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Intelligence Committee chair David Rockefeller, and former House Intelligence chair Jane Harman) and Republican members of Congress were allegedly informed about the use of torture, and said that their silence and failure to object should be investigated as well. 

Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.’  On the contrary, the President’s oath of office requires that he uphold the law.  If he tries to discourage the Justice Department from investigation and prosecution, he is abusing his own power as President and obstructing justice.  Any attempt by the White House to immunize those who ordered, allowed, or participated in torture would violate international laws and agreements, especially the Convention Against Torture signed by President Reagan in 1988 (http://www.hrweb.org/legal/cat.html).

The Green Party, which lists nonviolence among its key values, categorically opposes the use of torture under any circumstances.  Greens listed several urgent reasons to investigate and prosecute officials allegedly involved in torture:

• Torture violates US and international law.  In the past, US and international courts have punished war criminals for waterboarding prisoners, establishing an inescapable precedent.

• The use of torture has damaged the US’s standing in the world and motivated greater hostility against Americans: how many US military personnel were killed or maimed in Iraq by those enraged by the Abu Ghraib abuses?  International revulsion over torture may have made US allies less willing to cooperate with the US, thus reducing the US’s ability to gather intelligence.  Some of the damage can be repaired by punishing those responsible for torture.

• Torture places US troops and other personnel at risk of similar retaliatory treatment if captured.

• The circumstances of Abu Zubaydah’s treatment, including 83 instances of waterboarding in August, 2002, suggest that torture might have been used to extract “evidence” of collusion between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda in order to justify the US invasion of Iraq.  No genuine evidence of such an alliance existed, but the Bush Administration’s deceptions led to a bipartisan vote in Congress in October, 2002, transferring war power to the White House in violation of the US Constitution.

• Torture has never been a reliable way to gain information.  Under torture in Syria, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi’s words were used to support the US invasion of Iraq, despite questions of credibility and his later admission that the information was fabricated (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_al-Shaykh_al-Libi).  Information extracted through torture is especially unreliable in the ‘ticking bomb’ situations that Bush officials have been used to justify it.  However, whether torture works is besides the point; Mr. Cheney’s claims that such methods protected Americans lack credibility in light of his past deceptions.

• Historically, torture has often been employed by lawless governments less to gain information than to create terror among targeted populations.  Continued torture of some prisoners at Guantanamo Bay after they were known to be innocent is consistent with torture for this purpose.  Under George W. Bush, the US joined the list of terrorist states around the world.

• The use of torture cannot be separated from other Bush Administration abuses of power and violations of the US Constitution and international law (deceptions to win support for the invasion of Iraq, ‘preemptive’ military aggression, warrantless surveillance of US citizens), or from the Bush-Cheney doctrine of ‘unitary executive power’ placing the president above the law.

• White House crimes that go unpunished are a license for future administrations to commit similar crimes, and new ones too.

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