By Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
On the eve of the International Human Rights Day last December 9, the US Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), released the 525-page summary of the 6,700-page report on the program of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (torture) used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the name of counter-terrorism in the years of the Bush II regime, following 9/11. The full report is based on 6.3 million pages of official documents. It confirms that the CIA engaged in various forms of physical and psychological torture in “black sites” (secret various places for detention and interrogation in various countries).
The forms and methods of torture included the following: covering the face of a detainee with hoods, sacks or duct tape; physical beatings, walling, stress positions, electric shocks, burns and other forms of inflicting physical pain; prolonged sensory deprivation and cramped confinement in isolation cells and coffins; deprivation of sleep, food, water, clothes or medical care; repeated water boarding and near-drownings; intimidation with the use of dogs; sexual abuse and humiliation; mock executions and death threats; and inducing death by hypothermia or heat injury.
All the foregoing brutal acts are in violation of US and international law, which prohibit torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. But the entire report is withheld from the public. Worst of all, in the summary report, there is no reference to or indication of the accountability of those who authorized and committed the crimes. Thus, there is an immediate and growing demand by human rights advocates and the people for the full unredacted report and for the US Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation of those accountable.
The summary report focuses on the criminal acts of torture to the point of not giving due attention to similarly criminal acts of kidnapping and enforced disappearances of victims, renditioning them to the “black sites” in various countries, creating such sites and operating airlines for the purpose, lying to Congress about the acts of torture and the results illegally obtained, and misappropriating public funds. The summary report also tries to minimise the accountability of then US President George W. Bush by claiming that he was kept in the dark for many years by the CIA.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney is unrepentant, dismisses the report as mere crap and arrogantly asserts that if he had the authority he would do the “enhanced interrogation program” again. He admits that Bush was always in the loop in the conception, planning, authorization and implementation of the program. In fact, Bush himself proudly admitted in September 2006 that the program was his. And once more he admits in his memoirs that he authorized and encouraged “water boarding” and other enhanced interrogation techniques in the program.
The program was made under the Bush national security policy and was authorized and facilitated by President George H.W. Bush, Vice President Richard “Dick” Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice Legal Counsel & Cheney Chief of Staff David Addington, CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo, CIA Director of National Clandestine Service Jose Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant US.Attorney General John Yoo, and several others.
The accountability of this crew of terrorists and fascistic criminals extends to the torture of prisoners by Department of Defense personnel, the mass murder and displacement of millions of Afghans and Iraqis, and the destruction of their social infrastructure, all colossal crimes of imperialist aggression done in the name of a phoney global war on terror.
The summary report of the US Senate Committee is heavily redacted and is focused only on CIA torture. It cites only one prisoner death and does not include information and photographic evidence on US torture and prisons operated by the US Army, US Navy and other Department of Defense (DOD) agencies. As of 2005, more than 100,000 prisoners had been detained, many of whom were tortured, in US prisons set up across Central Asia since the start of the so-called global war on terror in 2002.
Major General Antonio Taguba investigated torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in 2004 and was aided by 2000 photographs that in his words “showed torture, abuse, rape and every indecency”. The Taguba Report was squelched by the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld combine and the aforesaid photographs were either tucked away or destroyed. General Taguba was frozen and forced to resign in 2007. He accused the Bush regime of committing war crimes.
With reference to the US Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein has declared that the US has an obligation to ensure accountability because it ratified the UN Convention Against Torture in 1994. The Geneva Conventions also requires the US to prosecute the torturers. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has also stressed that the report should lead to prosecutions because the prohibition against torture is absolute. The UN Special Rapporteur on Counterterrorism and Human Rights Ben Emmerson has also pointed out that there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration which allowed the gross and systematic violations of international human rights law.
But how do you prosecute Bush and his underlings? Although Obama officially terminated the torture program in 2009, he blocked the report until he needed it to counter the mid-term electoral victory of the Republicans. He continues to support the US Department of Justice in refusing to undertake a criminal investigation. He is apparently restraining himself because of fear that the Republican Congress and President would someday also hold him accountable for the thousands of innocent civilians murdered by his drone bombing campaigns.
If prosecution of the Bush gang of torturers is impossible in the US, is it possible to go after them before an international court? The US is not part of the International Criminal Court. The case against the US can be referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council but the US has veto power here. It is possible to go after the gang or any of its members in any of the national courts willing to take up cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against US officials. But usually the result is only to discourage such officials from travelling to the country where there is a case against them.
In representation of the Republicans, Sen. John McCain welcomed the presentation of the summary report of the US Senate Intelligence Committee by its Chair Sen. Feinstein last December 9. It is apparent that there is a bipartisan or duopolistic consensus to admit the undeniable crimes of torture and at the same to prevent the investigation and prosecution of the criminal masterminds and accomplices. Both the Republican and Democratic parties appear to have the cynical consensus that it is enough to issue a heavily redacted summary report.
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle regards as significant the admission by the US Senate Intelligence Committee that the CIA has committed acts of torture in violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, the Geneva Conventions and the International Bill of Rights. It exposes the hypocrisy of the US in touting itself as the champion of human rights. It is even more significant that the torturers are not being held accountable.
It is clear that the US imperialists allow and encourage the commission of crimes so long as these are meant to preserve and expand their power and wealth. The torturers are not prosecuted supposedly because of their “good intention” of defending the American people or in fact the US capitalist system of greed and terror. Impunity is the privilege of US imperialism for the worst of crimes, including abductions, torture, murder and wars of aggression.
The victims of torture and their families, the American people and the people of the world must demand the full disclosure of the crimes of torture and other barbarities committed by the armed personnel of the CIA and DOD and the prosecution of those who authorized and committed the crimes. All global region committees, national chapters and member-organizations are hereby instructed to initiate and join legal mass campaigns to protest the aforesaid crimes and demand justice.
The frustration of these mass campaigns justifies a higher level of revolutionary resistance against the entire system of imperialism. The imperialist powers themselves incite and compel the people to wage revolutionary civil wars for national liberation, democracy and socialism as the most effective way to oppose and prevail over imperialist campaigns of state terrorism and wars of aggression.