America Does Not Torture? Detainee Abuse Up since November Election


GW law Professor Jonathan Turley has been saying for a while now that President Obama would have only a short period of time to initiate investigations for war crimes before Obama himself became complicit, essentially as an accessory after the fact, for failure to uphold the rule of law.

President Obama, up until now, seems to have taken the position–or floated a trial balloon– along the lines of "going forward, we don’t torture". This position appears to posit the notion that as long as it didn’t happen on his watch, he cannot be held accountable for it–kind of like the nation got a baptism when he became president, and all of our past sins were somehow magically washed away.

Whether you agree with President Obama’s "not on my watch" approach or not, one thing was crystal clear; the Commander in Chief issued a clear direct order not to engage in torture.torturewrong-2.thumbnail.jpg

Well, I have some bad news for the president. According to Reuters, some members of the army and navy have disobeyed that direct order.

Abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has worsened sharply since President Barack Obama took office as prison guards "get their kicks in" before the camp is closed, according to a lawyer who represents detainees.

Abuses began to pick up in December after Obama was elected, human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour told Reuters. He cited beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.

This puts Obama in a box. He has to act or else share Bush’s war crime fate. Further, he has to act because if he allows service members to blithely violate a direct order from the Commander in Chief, he loses civilian control of the Army. Gates should have his (metaphorical) head handed to him for allowing this happen in the face of the President’s clearly stated position.

Twenty-eighth in a series on torture and the law.

[Editor’s note: The photo by takomabibelot features a banner created and designed by Firedoglake reader BonnieT of Austin, Texas, where she operates OpposeTorture.org.]

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