Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Damn right" couldn't be more wrong.

According to the Washington Post, former President Bush not only admits to ordering torture in his upcoming memoir, he is proud of it. The article says that when asked whether approved the CIA's use of waterboarding against 9/11 suspect Khalid Sheik Mohammed, he replied, "Damn right."

How can he get it so wrong? Waterboarding is torture, which is illegal and immoral under all circumstances. Period.

Statements like these also put U.S. national security at risk. As the Executive Director of the Center for Victims of Torture says, "This cavalier attitude by the President who authorized torture in violation of U.S. and international law not only damages our nation’s credibility throughout the world, but also discourages global cooperation to combat
terrorism. It was only last week the U.S. was reminded that to protect our country from terrorists, and to collect vital information, we need the trust of individuals and governments worldwide. The bombs shipped on airplanes bound for the U.S. were stopped because of the cooperation of foreign intelligence services. The U.S. stands the best chance of becoming the ally of more people around the world—people who can join us in the fight against terrorism—by rejecting torture. This effort is severely hampered when our leaders makes such careless and rash remarks without realizing the harmful impact on America’s security."

If you need evidence to back up this statement, just look to the many questions U.S. allies posed during last week's UPR about closing Guantanamo and ending torture. These questions came from concerns that other democracies share about how the U.S. has undermined global efforts to end torture, and how the facts revealed about U.S. use of torture has been used to drum up antagonism toward the U.S. and other western democracies.

Former President Bush's statement shows exactly why an independent non-partisan commission tasked with examining and reporting publicly on torture and cruel treatment of prisoners is needed, and why that investigation ought to look at command responsibility, not just the lower ranking officers who carried out torture.

Human Rights USA's clients who have survived torture at the hands of foreign government officials look to the U.S. to be a positive force for ending torture worldwide. They demand, and deserve, accountability to ensure that the U.S. never again sinks to these tactics.

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