Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Should Bush and Co. be Given the Pinochet Treatment?

Jonathan Freedland raises a really important issue in his column today. The Bush administration is beginning to take its leave with Cheney, gazing into the future, envisaging history delivering a benign verdict on what has transpired since 2000. Freedland points out that a bipartisan Senate committee report, chaired by no less a figure than John McCain, has reported after 18 months of study:

It shows how the most senior figures in the Bush administration discussed, and sought legal fig leaves for, practices that plainly amounted to torture.

Interrogation techniques for which elite troops were prepared in training were 'reverse engineered' at Rumsfeld's behest:

so that Americans would learn not how to endure them - but how to inflict them. Which they then did, at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib and beyond.

Freedland continues that not only Rumsfeld was involved:

The report's first conclusion is that, on "7 February 2002, President George W Bush made a written determination that Common Article 3 of the Geneva conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al-Qaida or Taliban detainees". The result, it says, is that Bush "opened the door" to the use of a raft of techniques that the US had once branded barbaric and beyond the realm of human decency.

It could well be that Bush will play his final card to pardon his cronies but that writ won't necessarily run in other parts of the world and Bush, Rummy and Cheney might face an embargo on travel abroad for the rest of their lives. Now that would be a small first step towards what might be called justice.

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