The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights has filed a criminal complaint against U.S. torture program architects and members of the Bush Administration. The organization has accused CIA director George Tenet and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of war crimes and they’ve called for a German prosecutor to conduct an immediate investigation.
This move follows the release of the damning Senate report on CIA torture that includes the case of German citizen Khalid El-Masri, who was captured in 2004 by CIA agents in a case of mistaken identity. The report revealed the shocking contrast of democracy and corruption.
Bizarrely, the only person involved with the CIA torture program who has been charged with a crime is the man who exposed the war crimes — whistleblower John Kiriakou.
The relevant parties in this case have given an extensive interview to Democracy Now. Some of the important points are below.
“By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.”
Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and chairman of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights said this:
“I strongly disagree that Bush, Cheney, et al., would have a defense. This wasn’t like these memos just appeared independently from the Justice Department. These memos were facilitated by the very people Cheney, etc. who we believe should be indicted. This was part of a conspiracy so they could get away with torture. But that’s not the subject here now.
“Secondly, whatever we think of those memos, they’re of uselessness in Europe. Europe doesn’t accept this, quote, “golden shield” of a legal defense. Either it’s torture or it’s not. Either you did it or you didn’t. And that’s one of the reasons, among others, why we’re going to Europe and why we went to Europe to bring these cases through the European Center.
Ratner is the author of The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book.
Ratner also said this:
“But, of course, you know, Cheney just showed us exactly why you have to have to prosecute torture. Because if you don’t prosecute it, the next guy down the line is going to torture again. And that’s what Cheney said: ‘I would do it again.’
Khalid El-Masri was on vacation in Skopje, in Macedonia, when he was pulled off of a bus by government agents, sodomized with a drug, and taken to the secret base that was identified only as Cobalt in the CIA torture report. After four months, and after the United States learned of the mistaken identity, they left him there and continued to torture him. They held him further because the U.S. realized they had been torturing the wrong man. Afterwards, they released him, dropping him off somewhere to resume his life.
El-Masri’s comments to Democracy Nowhighlight the contrast of democracy and corruption:
[translated] I was the only one in this prison in Kabul who was actually treated slightly better than the other inmates. But it was known among the prisoners that other prisoners were constantly tortured with blasts of loud music, exposed to constant onslaughts of loud music. And they were for up to five days, they were just sort of left hanging from the ceiling, completely naked in ice-cold conditions. The man from Tanzania, whom I mentioned before, had his arm broken in three places. He had injuries, trauma to the head, and his teeth had been damaged. They also locked him up in a suitcase for long periods of time, foul-smelling suitcase that made him vomit all the time. Other people experienced forms of torture whereby their heads were being pushed down and held under water.
“And let me just say, Germany whatever happened before, between the NSA spying on Germany and the fact that their citizen has now been revealed to have been kept in a torture place, when it was known that he was innocent, I’m pretty sure that Germany is going to take this very seriously.
We need to throw our full support behind this investigation and our government and the Obama administration needs to not impede it in any way. This is a harsh indictment of our hypocrisy as a nation when it comes to democracy and corruption.
democracy and corruption