Rights Groups Slam President ‘Torturer Supporter’; U.N. Tells Obama to Stop Abuse
Human rights groups have slammed President Barack Obama for opposing the release of photos showing the abuse of detainees by U.S. troops.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Obama’s action was “particularly disturbing” because the Justice Department has failed to open criminal investigations into torture under the previous administration.
His administration’s “adoption of the stonewalling tactics and opaque policies of the Bush administration flies in the face of the President’s stated desire to restore the rule of law, to revive our moral standing in the world and to lead a transparent government,” said ACLU executive director, Anthony Romero.
The Pentagon had agreed to release hundreds of photographs from U.S.-run prisons in Iraq and elsewhere depicting the abuse of detainees by US troops after losing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the ACLU.
However, in a reversal, the White House announced that Obama now opposed the release of photos in the belief they could cause a backlash against U.S. troops abroad.
Amnesty International USA also charged that the administration was “reneging on its legal obligation to release the torture photos.”
“Today’s decision to hold the torture photos only points more firmly to the urgent need for an investigation to expose, prosecute and finally close the book on torture,” said Larry Cox, the organization’s executive director.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human rights has urged the U.S. to bring to justice those held responsible for human rights abuse and torture.
Navi Pillay called on Washington on Thursday to launch a probe into the rendition sites used by the U.S. to transfer terrorist suspects and to ensure that those involved in the abuse of detainees are prosecuted for violating the global ban on torture.
She described the U.S. appointment to the 47-member forum as a “welcome step in restoring international trust in U.S. support for human rights”.
“Although much more needs to be done, President Obama’s determination to resolve the untenable situation of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, ban CIA prisons and implement the prohibition on torture in compliance with international standards is highly welcome,” the former U.N. war crimes judge said.
Within days after the election of the U.S. to the U.N. rights panel, President Barack Obama reversed a decision to release photos of torture scenes at U.S. military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, citing fears that the pictures could endanger U.S. troops.
President Obama has also been considering transferring Guantanamo inmates onto U.S. soil and indefinitely keeping them under surveillance without trial.
This is while the U.N. human rights Commissioner has pledged to convince the U.S. to “shed light into the still opaque areas that surround capture, interrogation methods, rendition and detention conditions of those alleged to have been involved in terrorism, and ensure that perpetrators of torture and abuse are held to account.”
The U.S. has long blocked U.N. resolutions against Israel in spite of the severe violations of international human rights laws by Tel Aviv and its atrocities against Palestinians.
The memories about the media storm that occurred when the Abu Ghraib photos were released forced Obama to think twice and take the U.S. troops into consideration before making any decisions.
The photographs issue became a topic of very much heated debate on many American TV shows. Liberals, Obama’s main support base, are none-too-thrilled with his turnaround. They want to see the people who committed the acts of torture held accountable for the crimes they committed, and by not releasing those photographs it is slowing down the process.
“These photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially compared to the painful images we remember from Abu Ghraib,” Obama said.
One argument that has arisen is that he has already released the CIA memos that detailed the abuse of detainees, so what is the point in releasing the photographs?
In addition, discussions about whether the enhanced methods of interrogation work or not, or if they even provide the U.S. with the intelligence they need, are not likely to start in American society any time soon. This is something the U.S. policy and law makers are going to argue about for a long time to come.
“For several years our government has been fighting terrorism without using these extreme methods, I can comment on that both worldwide and in Iraq,” reported Philip Zelikow, legal council to the ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Many analysts strongly believe that torture techniques do not work and the US can do perfectly fight terrorism without them.
Sheldon Whitehouse says officials apparently used twisted interpretations of the law to justify harsh tactics such as waterboarding. A GOP colleague suggests that Democrats are just playing politics.
The partisan clash over controversial Bush administration interrogation methods intensified Wednesday at a Senate hearing, with the chairman saying a “truth commission” is all but inevitable.
A Republican colleague, however, suggested that Democrats were exploiting the controversy for political gain.
The Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, the first by Congress on the Bush administration’s use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, also revealed some new details about how the harsh tactics were authorized and used. >>>