We know that the Obama administration was determined to never prosecute any of the main architects of the Bush regime torture program, or close Guantanamo. Last week while everyone was focused on the Republican Party Convention in Tampa, the Department of Justice announced that it is formally ending its investigation of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program with out bringing criminal charges:
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Thursday that no one would be prosecuted for the deaths of a prisoner in Afghanistan in 2002 and another in Iraq in 2003, eliminating the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought as a result of the brutal interrogations carried out by the C.I.A.
Mr. Holder had already ruled out any charges related to the use of waterboarding and other methods that most human rights experts consider to be torture. His announcement closes a contentious three-year investigation by the Justice Department and brings to an end years of dispute over whether line intelligence or military personnel or their superiors would be held accountable for the abuse of prisoners in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Mr. Holder had stated that the DOJ would not charge any of the interrogators if they had acted strictly in accordance with the department’s legal advice. Thus giving legitimacy to the “we were just following orders” defense that was rejected when used by German war criminals at Nuremberg. Mr. Holder just thumbed his nose at established international law, as well.
The lame excuse that there is a lack of solid evidence is just ludicrous, as David Dayen wrote in his article at FDL News Desk:
This was the investigation headed by John Durham, the federal prosecutor selected in August 2009 to look into charges of torture in CIA interrogations during the Bush Administration. We know plenty about those charges. The Justice Department released a previously classified document around the same time that they named Durham to lead the investigation, detailing the methods they used to interrogate suspects, including plenty of metMr. Obamahods that a plain reading would consider to be torture. This included waterboarding, stress positions, mock executions, threatening with handguns and power drills, vowing to kill or rape members of a detainee’s family, and inducing vomiting. [..]
In July 2010, federal judge and former Bush-era Justice Department official Jay Bybee, who wrote many of the Administration’s guidelines on interrogation, admitted to a House committee that CIA personnel never asked for approval for many of the interrogation techniques they used, that they went further than the prescribed guidelines from him, and that the ones he did prescribe were used excessively. Even if you believe that Bybee’s techniques were legal and did not violate federal and international conventions against torture, his testimony revealed clearly that CIA interrogators broke the law. Despite this prima facie evidence of unauthorized interrogation, the investigation went nowhere.
From the very start of his administration Pres. Obama and his officials have shielded the Bush torturers from all accountability, despite his campaign promise to have his Justice Department thoroughly investigate any charge of torture because no one is above the law. Then, even before he was inaugurated Mr. Obama declared that he was apposed to any of these investigations declaring “we must look forward, not backward.”
Glenn Greenwald writing for The Guardian, reviews the timeline of decisions that has lead to a whitewash of the “war on terror crimes.”
Throughout the first several months of his presidency, his top political aides, such as the chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel and his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, publicly – and inappropriately – pressured the justice department to refrain from any criminal investigations. Over and over, they repeated the Orwellian mantra that such investigations were objectionable because “we must look forward, not backward“. As Gibbs put it in April 2009, when asked to explain Obama’s opposition, “the president is focused on looking forward. That’s why.”
On 16 April 2009, Obama himself took the first step in formalizing the full-scale immunity he intended to bestow on all government officials involved even in the most heinous and lethal torture. On that date, he decreed absolute immunity for any official involved in torture provided that it comported with the permission slips produced by Bush department of justice (DOJ) lawyers which authorized certain techniques. “This is a time for reflection, not retribution,” the new president so movingly observed in his statement announcing this immunity. Obama added:
“[N]othing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past … we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.” [..]
(I)n August 2009, Holder announced a formal investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be brought in over 100 cases of severe detainee abuse involving “off-the-books methods” such as “mock execution and threatening a prisoner with a gun and a power drill”, as well as threats that “prisoners (would be) made to witness the sexual abuse of their relatives.” But less than two years later, on 30 June 2011, Holder announced that of the more than 100 cases the justice department had reviewed, there would be no charges brought in any of them – except two.
Glenn goes on to discuss the evidence in those two brutal cases that the justice department has now closed without charges and how the Obama administration even shut down investigations by Spain and Germany:
Moreover, Obama’s top officials, as WikiLeaks cables revealed, secretly worked with GOP operatives to coerce other countries, such as Spain and Germany, to quash their investigations into the US torture of their citizens, and issued extraordinary threats to prevent British courts from disclosing any of what was done. And probably worst of all, the Obama administration aggressively shielded Bush officials even from being held accountable in civil cases brought by torture victims, by invoking radical secrecy powers and immunity doctrines to prevent courts even from hearing those claims.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has prosecuted whistleblowers with a vigor that has surpassed all other presidents. In the NY Times article, Mr Holder noted one case in his announcement:
While no one has been prosecuted for the harsh interrogations, a former C.I.A. officer who helped hunt members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan and later spoke publicly about waterboarding, John C. Kiriakou, is awaiting trial on criminal charges that he disclosed to journalists the identity of other C.I.A. officers who participated in the interrogations.
Glenn appeared on Democracy Now with host Amy Goodman to discuss Mr. Holder’s announcement. During the seven minute interview they also discussed Clint Eastwood’s conversation with an empty chair at the RNC Convention,
Mr. Holder covers up the evidence, allows the real criminals to walk, instead prosecuting those who spoke out about the crimes.
Is this the change we are suppose to believe in and vote to reelect?