May 3, 2012

Federal court lets Bush era torture go unpunished

This is one of the worst and most dangerous decisions ever handed down by a federal court. The path to dictatorships such as Hitler's is paved with weak officials, using baroque legal arguments,  justifying what to any decent human being is evil.

Common Dreams - John Yoo, the UC Berkeley law professor who penned legal memos that provided cover for President George W. Bush's torture program, can't be sued by one of the victims of that program, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Jose Padilla, an American citizen arrested in 2002 and declared an "enemy combatant," may not hold professor John Yoo liable for "gross physical and psychological abuse" that Padilla said he suffered during more than three years of military detention, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"We cannot say that any reasonable official in 2001-03 would have known that the specific interrogation techniques allegedly employed against Padilla, however appalling, necessarily amounted to torture," said Judge Raymond Fisher in the 3-0 ruling.

San Francisco Chronicle - The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stopped short of endorsing Yoo's conduct as a lawyer in the Justice Department, where he wrote memos approving most of the practices allegedly used against plaintiff Jose Padilla in a Navy brig - sleep deprivation, stress positions, isolation, and extremes of temperature, light and darkness.

Padilla also said his interrogators threatened to kill him, and he claimed Yoo had personally authorized his treatment.

At least some of Padilla's treatment may well constitute torture under current standards, the appeals court said. But when Yoo worked for the department in 2001-03, the three-judge panel said, courts had not yet decided that those practices were torture, or that so-called enemy combatants like Padilla had the same constitutional rights as other inmates.

Lowering the Bar - What do all of the following have in common?
  • Prolonged isolation;
  • Deprivation of light;
  • Exposure to prolonged periods of light and/or darkness;
  • Extreme variations in temperature;
  • Sleep adjustment;
  • Threats of severe physical abuse;
  • Death threats;
  • Administration of psychotropic drugs;
  • Shackling and manacling for hours at a time;
  • Use of "stress" positions;
  • Noxious fumes that caused pain to eyes and nose;
  • Withholding of any mattress, pillow, sheet or blanket;
  • Forced grooming;
  • Suspension of showers;
  • Removal of religious items;
  • Constant surveillance;
  • Incommunicado detention, including denial of all contact with family and legal counsel for a 21-month period;
  • Interference with religious observance; and
  • Denial of medical care for serious and potentially life-threatening ailments, including chest pain and difficulty breathing, as well as for treatment of the chronic, extreme pain caused by being forced to endure stress positions, resulting in severe and continuing mental and physical harm, pain, and profound disruption of the senses and personality.
A: They're all things that government officials could do to an American citizen and still claim later that they didn't know they were "torturing" that citizen, according to a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In fact, they could do all those things to the same citizen and still claim it wasn't clear to them at the time whether it was "torture."

1 comment:

Ron Hinchley said...

Can we call them “Extra constitutional citizens” please. They deserve the same consideration as persons of interest. They can be held forever without trial and they may never have been an enemy or a combatant.