Foreign Courts Pursue Torture & Homicide Charges Against U.S.
"We have fed our hearts on fantasy,
and our hearts grew brutal on the fare"
William Butler Yeats
- The Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit in Germany asking German prosecutors to open a war crimes investigation of outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and a host of other U.S. officials for their alleged roles in abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay. Lawyer aree also prepared to file complaints in Spain, Belgium, Argentina, and other countries.For Rumsfeld, who is soon to lose the legal protection of his cabinet post, the prospect of foreign lawsuits could be a lingering irritant, should he decide to travel overseas as a private citizen, legal experts said.This follows an earlier U.S. federal court lawsuit against Rumsfeld for unlawful torture filed in March 2005 by the ACLU and Human Rights First. In the newly filed German case, in addition to Rumsfeld, the suit names Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet, former commander of all U.S. forces in Iraq Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez and eight others, alleging that they all either ordered, aided, or failed to prevent war crimes. A case could not be brought with the International Criminal Court, because the United States is not a member. The case could not be pursued through the U.N. because the U.S. has veto power.
- 11/28/05: The NYT 's editorial "Shake and Bake" excoriates the U.S. Army's use of the incendiary weapon "white phosphorous" in Iraq (notably in Fallujia) as another example of inhumane conduct.
- The American Bar Association has gone on record as vigorously opposing the use of torture by U.S. military or civilian personnel.
- 10/23/05: The New York Times reports that the "CIA is Likely to Avoid Charges in Most Prisoner Deaths", including the case of the most notorious prison death at Abu Ghraib prison -- where Navy Seals beat prisoner Manadel-al-Jamadi by striking "him in the head with rifle butts." His body was [WARNING GRAPHIC] "photographed wrapped in plastic and packed in ice."
- 10/21/05: Democracy Now reported that at Guantanamo Bay, detainees are accusing guards and medical officials of mistreating prisoners taking part in a camp-wide hunger strike. Detainees said large feeding tubes were forcibly shoved up their noses and down into their stomachs, with guards using the same tubes from one patient to another. The force-feedings reportedly resulted in prisoners vomiting up "substantial amounts of blood." The detainees say no sedatives were provided during these procedures, which they allege took place in front of U.S. physicians, including the head of the prison hospital.
- 10/21/05: UPI reports Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, in a speech in Washington, D.C. described a "Cheney cabal" at the White House and accused some of the most senior officials in the U.S. government of condoning torture in Iraq. "Ten years from now we will be ashamed of what we allowed to happen" on detainee abuse, he said.
- 10/20/05: A gag order has just been released in a Canadian lawsuit that seeks to hold the Bush Administration legally responsible for torture. The charges stem from the cases of alleged torture practiced by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The claims were brought on the occasion of George W. Bush’s visit to Canada in November 2004. The charges were filed under sections of the Canadian Criminal Code enacted pursuant to the United Nations Torture Convention which requires extra-territorial jurisdiction to be exercised against officials, even Heads of State, who authorize or are otherwise responsible for torture. The prospect that a foreign head of state could be brought to justice for human rights or torture charges is certainly not without precedent. The British House of Lords ruled specifically in R v Bow Street Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate and Others ex parte Pinochet Ugarte  4 All ELR 897 (3-2 majority) that the State Immunity Act did not insulate the former Head of State of Chile from prosecution in the U.K. for acts such as hostage-taking and torture.
- The AP reported on Wednesday a Court in Spain has issued an international arrest warrant for three U.S. soldiers whose tank fired on a Baghdad hotel during the Iraq war, killing a Spanish journalist and a Ukrainian cameraman. Under Spanish law, a crime committed against a Spaniard abroad can be prosecuted here if it is not investigated in the country where it is committed. See the documentary, "Hotel Palestine: Killing the Witness," produced by Jose Couso's network, Telecinco, and broadcast on Spanish TV. Jose Couso died in the tank blast. It includes interviews with numerous journalists who were inside the Palestine Hotel, the AP reporter embedded with US forces at the time of the attack as well as the US tank commander who pulled the trigger.
- The AP also reported that The U.S. military and the Afghan government said they will investigate a TV report that claimed U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan burned the bodies of two Taliban fighters and taunted other Islamic militants. The U.S. military said such abuse would be "repugnant."
- For more see PBS Frontline "The Torture Question" and article, on the "Tarnish of Torture" read . . .