Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Torture Nation

Here is a bit from an interesting article by Glenn Greenwald in Salon magazine:
In response to the growing controversy over the inhumane detention conditions of Bradley Manning, the U.N.'s top official on torture, Juan Mendez, announced last December that his office would formally investigate whether those conditions amounted to torture. Since then, the Obama administration has steadfastly rejected Mendez's repeated requests to interview Manning in private: something even Bush officials allowed for "high-level" Guantanamo detainees accused of being top Al Qaeda operatives (see p. 3). Now, Mendez is publicly accusing the Obama administration of violating U.N. rules by refusing him private access to Manning:
The United Nations' torture investigator on Tuesday accused the United States of violating U.N. rules by refusing him unfettered access to the Army private accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Juan Mendez, the U.N.'s special rapporteur for torture, said he can't do his job unless he has unmonitored access to detainees. He said the U.S. military's insistence on monitoring conversations with Bradley Manning "violates long-standing rules" the U.N. follows for visits to inmates. . .

Mendez said the U.S. government assured him Manning is better treated now than he was in Quantico, but the government must allow the U.N. investigator to check that for himself.

Mendez said he needs to assess whether the conditions Manning experienced amounted to "torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" while at Quantico.

"For that, it is imperative that I talk to Mr. Manning under conditions where I can be assured that he is being absolutely candid," Mendez said.
During the Bush years, the pronouncements of the U.N.'s rapporteur for torture were widely hailed in progressive circles, but caring about what the U.N. thinks -- like concerns over detainee abuse -- is so very 2006. After all, look over there: it's Michele Bachmann [speaking of things that are very 2006, Human Rights Watch (remember them?) has issued a report detailing that the Obama administration is in flagrant breach of its treaty obligations (remember those?) by continuing to shield Bush torture crimes from all forms of accountability]. As for the Obama administration's strange refusal to allow a private U.N. interview with Manning -- something even Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was allowed by the Bush Pentagon in 2006 with the ICRC -- hasn't the Government taught us that you have nothing to hide if you've done nothing wrong?
I remember 50 years ago when Americans could proudly say they didn't torture. Sure I wasn't aware of the torture during the suppression of the Phillipine independence movement, and the massacres and torture in Vietnam was still in the future. But even the Vietnam years were not the blatant torture regime the US has become since Bush and now Obama have been leading the military.

The treatment of "innocent until proven guilty" Bradley Manning is a national disgrace.

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