On December 3rd the US Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence released its long overdue “Findings and Conclusions” on the CIA’s “Detention and Interrogation Program” during the George W Bush administration. Almost all of us know this by now.
The editors of the New York Times on December 21st wrote an Editorial entitled “Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses”. This editorial ended with:
Starting a criminal investigation is not about payback; it is about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments. Because of the Senate’s report, we now know the distance officials in the executive branch went to rationalize, and conceal, the crimes they wanted to commit. The question is whether the nation will stand by and allow the perpetrators of torture to have perpetual immunity for their actions.
The US military is as bound by more than one law from engaging in torture by the UN Convention Against Torture (1994), which the USA signed but has not yet ratified in Congress, but still is bound by. The US military is also bound by The Geneva Conventions, Article III of 12 August 1949. It should be noted that the United States was THE major force in the creation of the Geneva Conventions, and is thus doubly responsible for the rules (laws) as they are written. In addition, by ratifying the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations itself, the US Constitution declares such treaty signings as being part of “the highest law of the land”. This means that all OTHER laws are under them and must obey the treaties exactly as written. AND that federal prosecutors must bring violators to justice.
The famous Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions includes:
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: Continue reading