Torture and the Need for Justice: A Revolution Books Town Hall, Ethical Culture Society – Speech Notes – PDF

Medical Torture Guantanamo


2009 Torture and the Need for Justice Speech Notes

Ethical, Wed June 3, 09 Michael Ratner #3

(june 2 1203) version 3

Pls to be here —gita diana jeremy laura chris (andy) Diana—survivor of  torture in the 80’s–Guatemala

(US involved—soa or otherwise—not new-without accountability will continue) (denial vs use it and needed)

(debate about whether it works and get information–false debate–

What Diana s case illustrates is not about information-but a technique of domination and oppression–whether in guat or Iraq or Afghanistan-or our own police precincts or our prisons)

So the call to abolish torture cannot succeed until we abolish the system that breeds it—

Back in those days when George w Bush was president—

CCR’s position on gitmo, preventive detention, military commissions, torture and prosecutions was forceful  and clear:

  1. gitmo must be closed–not just physical but
  1. detainees at gitmo had to be either charged and tried or There was no third way—there was place in law for holding people in preventive detention–detention for dangerousness. (some 225-15 or so)
  2. those to be tried could only be tried in federal courts. Short military commissions slanted in favor of easier convictions should never be
  3. Torture must be ended–no exceptions no matter what name—
  1. and officials responsible for the torture program must be investigated by a special prosecutor—so won’t  have torture in future

The principles underlying these positions do not change no matter who is president or which party is in office.

CCR has remained consistent and forceful on these issues—

To paraphrase the writer Lillian Hellman when called before McCarthy comm.

We at ccr cannot and will not cut our conscience or mutilate law and morality to fit this year’s fashion’s

  1. I bring this up now in the context of President Obama’s recent May 21 speech on Guantanamo-state secrets and prosecutions—
    1. At CCR we did not find the positions the President outlined acceptable and we said so—
      1. A day before the speech– had a glimpse of the positions that President Obama’s speech would outline—-

Vince Warren CCR exec director had been invited to a meeting with President –­ “I came out of the meeting deeply disappointed in the direction that the administration is taking and I don’t see meaningful differences between these detentions police and those erected by President Bush.”

  1. The next day we at CCR listened to Obama’s speech-and it gave substance to Vince’s negative assessment–
  2. In the speech given at the National Archives President Obama invoked and embraced the constitution, and the bill of rights–our founding documents—and spoke of the need, the necessity, to adhere to their principles–

–a compelling speech until you got to the solution—a solution not unlike that of George W. Bush except    with more bells and whistles to make it look better—

President Obama’ s speech began with a really offensive equation between what he referred to as absolutists on the right and on left: what I would call an equation between Cheney and CCR—–

As the President put it– the absolutists on one side are those who believe “anything goes” in fighting terror–that is the cheney’s and much of the bush admin.

and those on the other side whom he characterizes as willing to sacrifice our security for our values—(as if somehow adhering to our values as ccr insists will sacrifice our security)

I don’t think I need to spell it for you more than to say this–

To equate those who would violate the law, treaty and morality by a torture program with those who have tirelessly fought to insist on a country and world without torture is a I said—and will say again “offensive”

And of course he took a supposed middle ground between the two poles—but a middle ground that is more in common with Bush policies than the constitution–

  • He set forth a detention and trial program for Gitmo and possibly others that violates those very core principles he wrapped himself in: military commissions; preventive detention; looking away from prosecutions of the torture team.

The moment it was concluded: I said–president wrapped himself in the constitution and then proceeded to violate it

  1. CCR’s message did not sit well with some of our allies— all kinds of excuses were made for Obama’s embracing aspects of the Bush detention polices that are or should be anathema to those concerned with fundamental human rights. (give him more time; he inherited this problem from Bush and is doing his best; he is being pushed by the CIA and DOD and can’t really do more; even the Democrats voted 90-6 to not accept Gitmo detainee) (yes a problem dems-leadership)

But these are just that excuses.

There can be no excuse for mil comm.; Preventive detention; torture and impunity to the torture team—

A democratic gtimo is not better than a republican gitmo-(even if rewrapped and diff location)

(likewise a democ bagram no better than a republican bargram (opposed HC)

A democ military commission is not better than a republican military comm.

A democ preventive detention scheme is not better than a republican preventive detention scheme

(describe diff here) some have argued with us about that—especially about preventive detention—(what is it?)

Claim if used; if employed will have all kinds of procedural due process protections and that will make it different than Bush policy of holding people without such protections. Detainee will better be able to challenge a finding that he is dangerous—yes-perhaps there will be additional DP

But the core will remain the same: people can and may be held forever without begin charged or tried for a crime

I don’t care how bells and whistles are attached to preventive detention–­ unnecessary and illegal practice

Think about death penalty–a barbaric practice—

All of the due process protections put in front of its imposition-still leave the barbarity of the practice in place

Likewise with the barbaric practice of preventive detention—you can front load it with due process—but in the end what remains is preventive detention

Perhaps the most serious of the threats

It buys into and the bush war on terror

Crossing the rubicon—you don’t come from that–­

Forever alter our judicial and const system of 225 years

  • And what of torture—yes continues as Jeremy; yes annex m-it now belongs to his administration—-
  • And the message of non pros; of impunity—allows torture to continue here and abroad; allows its proponents like Cheney to advocate its use and runs the risk of similar torture program in the future—

Obama saying look to future—not look back and not re-litigate–­ disingenuous-prosecuting the torture team is look to the future—

So in some ways we can see the first few months have been disappointing–­to say the least—but never have expectations that the political branches—president and congress will do the right think; they never have and they never will without pressure  from below—

And that is our job—to make them do what they are reluctant to do–­ Some progress —never expected to get this far this quickly—

Those that advocated prosecution thought crazy; no longer (truth commissions)

Actually worried about prosecutions; repeatedly force admin to address the issue;

More and more come out and each revelation pushed more­ Memos—waterboard coffin—

Senate armed services-rumsfeld and others Pictures—

Efforts: disbarment–Spain and others–­

Pressure—haynes yoo symbolic—

We are in a struggle -doing the right thing–­ Demand an sp-holder and others cards—

Yes he inherited gitmo—but now it is his prison and his torture Cleared for release—17 Uighurs – over 7 years—who are they? (some 50 or so)

His prison–Tonight, tomorrow, last week, last month he could have paroled them into the US; he refused although Uighur community stands ready to accept; DOJ filed a brief in which it says he not exercise his immigration authority to bring them—in other words it his choice to leave cleared people at gitmo—

Ashcroft Bybee Miller

Sanchez Yoo

Rumsfeld Gonzales Brennan Feith Tenet Rice

Cheney Chertoff Bush Bradbury Addington Powell

Plus: Rookie card for Rumsfeld/Cheney Congress

Mystery Special Prosecutor

There will be room on the website to add others like Private Contractor, Health Prof’l, etc.