Tag Archives: waterboarding

Now the Metropolitan Police…Tortures?

It’s not something they’re not already known to do. But still the newest claims about the Metropolitan Police’s behaviour are shocking:

Metropolitan Police officers subjected suspects to waterboarding, according to allegations at the centre of an anti-corruption inquiry.

The torture claims are part of an investigation which also includes accusations that evidence was fabricated and suspects’ property was stolen. It has already led to the abandonment of a drugs trial and the suspension from duty of several officers.

However, senior policing officials are most alarmed by the claim that officers in Enfield, North London, used the controversial CIA interrogation technique, in which water is poured on to a cloth covering the suspect’s face, causing them to feel they are on the point of suffocation.

Alan Johnson has his work cut out for him. New Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has already abandoned the concept of ‘institutional racism’ as a viable tool to use in Met reform, and has supported his force after the G20 policing disaster (what is going on with the IPCC investigation by the way?). Is it any wonder that fundamental human rights might also be being breached by these thugs?

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Obama’s Long Game on Torture: Part 2

It’s looking increasingly like I was right – he is playing a long game:

Senior members of the Bush administration who approved the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation measures could face prosecution, President Obama disclosed today .

He said the use of torture reflected America “losing our moral bearings”.

He said his attorney general, Eric Holder, was conducting an investigation and the decision rested with him. Obama last week ruled out prosecution of CIA agents who carried out the interrogation of suspected al-Qaida members at Guantánamo and secret prisons around the world.

But for the first time today he opened up the possibility that those in the administration who gave the go-ahead for the use of waterboarding could be prosecuted.

The revelation will enrage senior Bush administration figures such as the former vice-president Dick Cheney.

The Obama administration views the use of waterboarding as torture, while Cheney claims it is not.

Obama, taking questions from the press during a visit by King Abdullah of Jordan, reiterated he did not believe in prosecution of those CIA agents who carried out the interrogations within the guidelines set down for them. But “with respect to shoe who formulated” the policies, “that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws”. He added: “I don’t want to prejudge that.”He also opened the way for a Congressional inquiry into the issue.

It’s a dangerous political game, trying to appease vested interests in the CIA and on the political right by not going for the flunkies, whilst implicitly begging for the political capital to go essentially after the ‘Bush Six’ – the men who wrote the memos authorising torture. It also explains why the Spanish Attorney-General is now eager to drop that country’s criminal proceedings. I think Andrew Sullivan is right when he says of Obama’s release of the memos and Cheney’s push to get more released:

this seems to me to be a real opportunity to set up the Truth Commission many of us have been asking for. Release all the data on the torture – all of it – alongside the intelligence we got from it. At least then we will have the data needed to see this in full perspective. It needs to be in context and it needs to be assessed by an independent panel – bipartisan and widely respected – along the lines of the 9/11 Commission. Decisions to prosecute could be made after all the material is laid out. This will take time – and should be done carefully and exhaustively.

A Quick Anti-Cheney Rant

In the wake of President Obama’s release of the four CIA ‘torture memos’, former Vice-President Dick Cheney has gone on the defence (attack really, he doesn’t ‘do’ defence):

“One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is that they put out the legal memos… but they didn’t put out the memos that show the success of the effort,” Mr Cheney told Fox News.

“There are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified. I formally ask that they be declassified now.”

The American people should have a chance to weigh the intelligence obtained alongside the legal debate, he said.

Can I remind readers that Cheney is now a private citizen and not the vice-president?! I’ve never heard of previous presidents or vice-presidents trying to influence their successors like this. Even Al Gore behaved with dignity towards Bush, and later towards the Bush Administration over climate change. This is a shameless attempt at undermining the president, and Obama must do the right thing by completely ignoring him.

Can I also remind readers that human rights are indivisible? They’re either universally applicable – to everyone at all times – or you might as well dismiss the notion entirely. You don’t get to suspend the UDHR for people you don’t like (or who don’t like you) – that defeats the entire concept, equally as much as Obama’s allowing CIA flunkies who did torture to get away with it. I understand his political calculation in at least starting down that road, but he’s as wrong as Cheney is here. And considering the entire administration of which he was a part was built on a pack of lies, I wouldn’t believe a single document which Cheney says proves his point.

Justice in America

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