“There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes”
Those words are quoted from Major General Antonio Taguba, USA (Ret.) in a preface he wrote to a report put out by Physicians for Human Rights entitled “Broken Laws, Broken Lives.” General Taguba knows from which he speaks, he is the general entrusted with the investigation into allegations of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Now, he has found torture at Gitmo.
An organization known as Physicians for Human Rights has managed to interview and examine 11 detainees held in places like Kandahar, Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca and even Gitmo. They detailed their findings in a report released this week entitled Broken Laws, Broken Lives.
Physicians for Human Rights mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity, and justice and promotes the right to health for all. Harnessing the specialized skills, rigor, and passion of doctors, nurses, public health specialists, and scientists, PHR investigates human rights abuses and works to stop them.
In PHR’s new report, Broken Laws, Broken Lives, [PHR] ha[s] for the first time medical evidence to confirm first-hand accounts of men who endured torture by US personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay. These men were never charged with any crime.
You have to register to read the reports, but you can do so here.
The PHR report has a preface written by Major General Antonio Taguba, USA (Ret.). He is the general who wrote the report detailing prisoner abuse [long document] at Abu Ghraib.
In his preface, General Taguba states in seriously unequivocal language that the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo amounts to “war crimes” on American soil. He said:
After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.
The report is a series of case studies done involving detainees who were subsequently released and never charged with any crime. Yep, after holding them for years, interrogating them with torture, the US government realized it had no basis to continue holding them and let them go without so much as a “whoops, my bad” by way of apology much less reparation.
The PHR report not only catalogues what the prisoners say happened to them, it includes the steps taken by the physicians to corroborate via physical exam, including bone scans and other testing to establish proof of scarring consistant with the stories told by the prisoners.
In seems that the interrogators focused their work on injuries to soft tissue believing it would not produce lasting scars and it would be the word of a detainee against the word of the US government.
However, some of the electroshock treatments left scars on the skin and some of the beatings left telltale scarring on the bones. Not noticeable to the naked eye, but provable with a bone scan. What PHR has done is put together the kind of forensic evidence needed to actually convict in a war crimes court.
I’m not saying that the information in this report, or the underlying backup documentation make a triable case all by themselves. I doubt that it does.
But this is a HUGE development in terms of the feasibility of bringing a war crimes trial and actually getting a conviction.
And who might be the subject of such a war crimes trial? I don’t have my own theory, yet, but McClatchy sure seems to:
The framework under which detainees were imprisoned for years without charges at Guantanamo and in many cases abused in Afghanistan wasn’t the product of American military policy or the fault of a few rogue soldiers.
It was largely the work of five White House, Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers who, following the orders of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, reinterpreted or tossed out the U.S. and international laws that govern the treatment of prisoners in wartime, according to former U.S. defense and Bush administration officials.
The quintet of lawyers, who called themselves the “War Council,” drafted legal opinions that circumvented the military’s code of justice, the federal court system and America’s international treaties in order to prevent anyone — from soldiers on the ground to the president — from being held accountable for activities that at other times have been considered war crimes.
The quintet did more than condone harsh treatment, however. It created an environment in which it was nearly impossible to prosecute soldiers or officials for alleged crimes committed in U.S. detention facilities.
The five lawyers on the War Council met every few weeks behind closed doors in Gonzales’ or Haynes’ office to plot legal strategy, according to Jack Goldsmith, a former senior Justice Department lawyer.
Several other former U.S. officials confirmed that the group was the driving force for White House policy on detainees.
Who are these geniuses?
-William J. Haynes, II
-Our old nemesis John Yoo
Please go read the McClatchy piece, it’s a wonderful piece of work and just chock full of information. This is what reporting is supposed to look like and so seldom does. Enjoy.
One of the other things I like about the PHR report is that it debunks the notion that the detainees were trained or have been subsequently coached to make up false claims of abuse. CNN had the story up on Wednesday morning. This story needs to grow a strong pair of legs. Every pundit should be talking about this. For weeks.
Eighteenth in a series on torture and the law
[Editor’s note: This photo by takomabibelot features a banner created and designed by Firedoglake reader BonnieT of Austin, Texas, where she operates OpposeTorture.org.]