Monday, October 20, 2014

Is Torture Okay Outside U.S. Borders: A Pending Question

Officials Like These Have Said: "Hey, no big deal, it keeps us safe."

Whew boy. Say it's not gonna be true!!!

The focus of this post is based on a pending action as reported by the the NY TIMES here:

The Bush administration revealed in 2005 that it was secretly interpreting a UN treaty ban on “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” as not applying to CIA and military prisons overseas.  NOTE: That treaty has 33 Articles and a list of the countries that signed it on February 4, 1985. Also, note the list of countries who signed the treaty, but have not yet ratified it - "The Convention Against Torture.” 

Here is that list of signers who have not ratified the treaty:
  1. Belgium
  2. Bolivia
  3. Costa Rica
  4. Cuba
  5. Dominican Republic
  6. Gabon
  7. Gambia
  8. Iceland
  9. Indonesia
  10. Morocco
  11. Nicaragua
  12. Nigeria
  13. Sierra Leone
  14. Sudan
  15. United States of America

The current Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty. Now the President's legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view by considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, or not.  

The administration must decide on its stance on the treaty by next month, when it sends a delegation to Geneva to appear before the Committee Against Torture. That committee is a United Nations panel that monitors compliance with the treaty. 

1.  State Department lawyers are said to be pushing to officially abandon the Bush-era interpretation. Doing so would require no policy changes, since Mr. Obama issued an executive order in 2009 that forbade cruel interrogations anywhere and made it harder for a future administration to return to torture.  

2.  Military and intelligence lawyers are said to oppose accepting that the treaty imposes legal obligations on the United States’ actions abroad. They say they need more time to study whether it would have operational impacts. They have also raised concerns that current or future wartime detainees abroad might invoke the treaty to sue American officials with claims of torture, although courts have repeatedly thrown out lawsuits (cite: Padilla v. Rumsfeld, et al) brought by detainees held as terrorism suspects.

FYI: I called the White House and left comments for the President asking him to stay with the treaty, then I sent a extensive email follow-up to him as well. Hopefully, he will listen.

We shall see. Stay tuned and check back later. Thanks for stopping by.

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