Monday, December 24, 2012 at 11:06 am by Shahid Buttar
Reblogged from constitutioncampaign.org
The impending release of the Hollywood film Zero Dark Thirty has sparked a vigorous debate about torture. A consensus among informed observers has emerged that torture was never actually helpful in securing useful intelligence information to support our nation’s wars abroad.
But the question of efficacy has obscured more important issues. Largely absent from the debate have been apparently forgotten concerns about human rights, accountability, and the rule of law.
Just to reiterate the consensus: torture did not help national security. The chairs of the Senate intelligence and armed services committees, in addition to a recent Republican presidential nominee and torture survivor, and the acting head of the CIA, have all publicly announced that the film’s depiction of torture exaggerates its usefulness.
In fact, as they have all confirmed, the information that led to the death of Osama bin Laden was gained through traditional intelligence methods, not the unconstitutional “enhanced interrogation” human rights abuses illegally concocted by former Vice President Dick Cheney, Ninth Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, and others.
Not only was torture unhelpful as an interrogation method, it was actively counterproductive: it fueled the recruitment of new terrorists by our nation’s enemies, and undermined our nation’s moral standing in the world, degrading the “smart power” that was responsible for our triumph over the Soviet bloc and the relative peace in the decades following WWII.
Yet in the wake of torture, our government has turned a blind eye to enforcing the law, ensuring that it will recur by endorsing a regime of unaccountability in direct violation of the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution, the precedent from the Nuremberg trials, the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT), and our federal statute enforcing the CAT.
The Obama administration commits violations of human rights every day it fails to pursue accountability for the architects of the Bush administration’s torture program. The first term decision to “look forward, not backward” reflected acapitulation to political headwinds, but it also heralded a great deal more.
First, it reflected the naïveté of the new administration dreaming that it could transcend partisan division. With the sober realities of the first term behind it, and the fresh political mandate conferred by a resounding re-election victory, the Obama administration should not hesitate to pursue long overdue investigations of senior Bush administration officials. Indeed, those investigations are required under international legal principles—principles so cherished that we once fought a world war to establish them.