The Truth About Torture: Part One
Note: This is the first of a seven-part series I will write for the Bloggers Against Torture and Greetings From America’s Finest City blogs in response to President Bush’s speech on September 6, 2006.
Yesterday, President Bush presented a nearly thirty-minute speech to disclose the existence of secret prisons, the CIA program used to interrogate suspected terrorists and the introduction of legislation to develop military tribunals in accordance with General Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. Although many people believe the timing of this speech was done to generate support for a failing war on terror program, I will not concentrate on that issue. I will use these series of reports to debunk several talking points made in the second half of the speech because you deserve to know the truth.
Before we begin, please take a few seconds to view the following video clip.
Video Talking Points: The United States does not torture, President Bush signed the McCain Detainee Amendment and suspected terrorists with little or not intelligence value are returned to their countries of origin for prosecution.
The Truth: President Bush’s comments on the use of torture aren’t accurate. FactCheck.org has a listing of important events that took place since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including the following:
- Bush’s Presidential Order on February 7, 2002, which states that members of al-Qaeda were "enemy combatants", not prisoners of war, thus exempting them from the protections of General Article 3 of the Geneva Convention.
- In March 2004, Maj. General Antonio Taguba reported that prisoners were abused at Abu Gharib prison.
- One year later, an Amnesty International report listed dozens of allegations of torture at the Guantanamo Bay prison. The forward of the report called Guantanamo Bay "the gulag of our times."
- Recently, an FOIA request by the ACLU uncovered evidence of "desperate and immoral" conditions at Guantanamo Bay prison prior to the three suicides there two months ago.
- Let’s not forget about the National Religious Campaign Against Torture ad that ran in the June 13, 2006 edition of The New York Times asking America to abolish torture.
- Finally, the Road to Guantanamo Action Guide put together by Amnesty International contains four case studies of current detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Click here to download and view the sixteen-page document.
President Bush signed the McCain Detainee Amendment but did not mention he issued a signing statement that lays out his own interpretation of the law. He also did not disclose how the Graham- Levin Amendment modified the original intention of the McCain Amendment so that the Department of Defense can consider evidence obtained through torture of Guantanamo Bay detainees and expands the prohibition of habeas corpus for redetainees, leaving them no legal recourse if they’re tortured.
When former detainees are released from CIA secret prisons or "black sites", they are not always returned to their home country. During Blogathon 2006, I shared the story of Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen who was mistakenly detained, flown to Afghanistan and interrogated by the CIA for several months before they discovered he was not the al-Qaeda operative with a similar name. He was not returned to his homeland upon his release. Instead, El-Masri was dumped on an Albanian roadside and is currently appealing the ruling on his civil lawsuit against the CIA, former director George Tenet and several private firms.
If detainees are transferred to their home countries for prosecution and detention, there’s no guarantee they will be given a fair trial. According to Human Rights Watch, a group of former Guantanamo Bay detainees that were returned to Saudi Arabia on May 18th are unlikely to receive a fair trial and are also at further risk of torture, further proving that President Bush misled the American public when he stated that the United States does not torture and he does not authorize torture.
To be continued...
9/11, Amnesty International, Article 3, Bloggers Against Torture, CIA, Geneva Convention, George W. Bush, Guantanamo Bay, John McCain, Khalid El-Masri, speech, terrorism, torture