U.S. violations of international law have become so outrageous and widespread that even mainstream organizations, including Amnesty International, International Committee of the Red Cross and Physicians for Human Rights have issued statements condemning the Bush Administration’s lawlessness.
In addition, representatives of the media worldwide, including CNN, BBC, the Newspaper Guild and widely respected organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have spoken out against the military’s attempt to silence coverage of war crimes by political pressure and by directly targeting journalists.
*The U.S. – A Rogue State*
According to a 308-page report issued last week by Amnesty International, the U.S. is “thumbing its nose at the rule of law” by engaging in torture, abuse and illegal detentions.
More than a year ago, grisly pictures of the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib came to light, sparking justifiable outrage, particularly throughout the Arab world. The Pentagon responded by banning cell phone cameras which had been used to photograph the abuse. They then selected a few low-ranking soldiers to punish for executing policies that we now know originated in Washington, DC. Alberto Gonzales, who drafted the memo advising the president that he was not bound by international law, was subsequently promoted to attorney general. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved many of the interrogation techniques used in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram Prison.
A year after the Abu Ghraib photographs exposed the real character and intent of U.S. occupation, the conditions and apparatus remain in place for torture, abuse and illegal detentions. While the Pentagon is engaging in a public relations campaign to convince the public that these crimes are the actions of a few “bad apples,” tens of thousands of detainees in U.S. prison camps in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guant namo Bay and secret locations elsewhere remain in brutal and inhumane conditions.
Evidence of torture and abuse by U.S. forces continues to mount. According to the May 29 Washington Post, “The latest FBI documents detailing allegations of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay are like previous FBI documents: highly disturbing. They contain prisoners’ descriptions of beatings, strippings and abuse of the Koran. Detainees variously claim the Muslim holy book has been thrown on the floor, thrown against a wall and, yes, flushed in a toilet. There are also references to these kinds of events having led to an “altercation” between detainees and guards.”
The government was forced to release 1,000 pages of transcripts this week. The testimonies included a shocking look into the torture chambers of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where about 520 men from 40 countries remain held, some for as long as three years.
A recent report from Physicians for Human Rights examining the use of psychological torture against prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba says that the abuse was a direct result of decisions developed by civilian and military leaders to “take the gloves off” during interrogations and “break” prisoners through the use of techniques such as “sensory deprivation, isolation, sleep deprivation, forced nudity, the use of military working dogs to instill fear, cultural and sexual humiliation, mock executions and the threat of violence or death toward detainees or their loved ones.”
“Although the evidence is far from complete,” the report says, “what is known warrants the inference that psychological torture was central to the interrogation process and reinforced through conditions of confinement.”
Torture and abuse are not the work of a few “bad apples.” *These inhumane and brutal policies flow directly from the highest levels of government.*
Amnesty International recognized this and suggested that foreign governments investigate senior U.S. officials involved in torture and abuse and arrest and question Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, former CIA Director William Tenet and Vice President Dick Cheney.
The Pentagon’s Response:
Target the Press
In response to the growing global outrage at U.S. torture, the Bush Administration is taking steps not to halt its criminal actions but to stop media coverage of the abuse.
On May 1, Newsweek magazine revealed that an internal U.S. military investigation had found substantial evidence interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran. Newsweek’s story led to outrage against the US in Afghanistan and elsewhere where violent protests led to at least 15 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
Newsweek wasn’t the first media outlet to report on the trashing of the holy Islamic text by U.S. military personnel at Guantanamo. Reports in the Independent of London, the Washington Post the NY Daily News and the Financial Times have all described desecration of the Koran, including throwing it into the toilet.
However, the White House damage control team was able to successfully pressure Newsweek to retract the story amd issue an apology. The Bush Administration claims Newsweek’s story led to preventable deaths that resulted from the protests. “People lost their lives. People are dead,” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said. “People need to be very careful about what they say, just as they need to be careful about what they do.” This is the same man who lied to the U.S. public, saying he knew exactly where the Iraqi people were hiding weapons of mass destruction. His lies helped lead the U.S. into a war costing the lives of more than 100,000 Iraqis and 1600 U.S. soldiers.
*Help Build a Movement to Hold the War Criminals Accountable*
* George W. Bush and his administration have committed numerous war crimes. * They lied in order to lead the U.S. into a war of aggression.
They have killed more than 100,000 Iraqi pe and assassination. They have committed crimes against peace and crimes against humanity, and they must be held accountable.
These lawless killers have already demonstrated their absolute contempt for any legal restraint, whether domestic or international. The only force that can stop their drive to globalize Abu Ghraib is the power of the people.
We must build a massive grass roots movement to end the Bush drive for empire and to demand justice.
PeopleJudgeBush.org <http://www.peoplejudgebush.org> was launched in the summer of 2004 as part of the organizing for a week of protests against the Republican National Convention in New York City. Organizers sponsored the August 26 War Crimes Tribunal <http://peoplejudgebush.org/tribunal2.shtml>, where an international panel of witnesses and experts presented conclusive evidence of the crimes committed by the Bush Administration. Findings from the Tribunal, including documentation and testimony are available online
But it is not enough to acknowledge that the Bush Administration is a criminal regime. *We must also defend the right and obligation to resist.* The people of Iraq have the right to defend themselves and resist illegal U.S. invasion and colonial occupation. Members of the
military have the right to refuse to obey orders to fight in an illegal war. *And the people have the right and the obligation to organize and take to the streets to demand that George W. Bush be held accountable. www.PeopleJudgeBush.org