Archive for the ‘refoulement’ Category

Extraordinary rendition in Italy: Inside details revealed in 2003 CIA Milan abduction of Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr

Sunday, July 28th, 2013


Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Washington Bureau), “U.S. allowed Italian kidnap prosecution to shield higher-ups, ex-CIA officer says,” McClatchy, July 27, 2013.

Greg Miller, “Ex-CIA operative convicted in Italy of kidnapping Muslim cleric is detained,” July 18, 2013 (updated July 19 8:58 a.m.).

See also

“European court of human rights condemns Macedonia for “extraordinary rendition” to cooperating CIA officials, in Khaled el-Masri case,” The Trenchant Observer, December 28, 2012.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

And the claims of law for justice, the claims of international law for punishment of violators of fundamental human rights so that justice be done, are dogged, persistant claims. They will not go away. Violators will always have those claims hanging over them. They will always be subject to arrest and punishment for their crimes, even if it takes 50 years to bring them to justice.

The Trenchant Observer

“The Disposition Matrix”: Is Obama laying the foundations of a future totalitarian state? (Updated July 27, 2013)

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

A recent article in The Guardian on Obama’s kill lists and the now highly bureacratized killing machine used to extirpate individuals on the lists, highlights for those who missed it that the kill lists and the bureacratic machinery for using them have now been re-baptized as “The Disposition Matrix”.

This wonderful euphemism is presumably from John Brennan, the president’s teacher and moral guide in all such matters, and now Director of the CIA. Brennan, it will be recalled from his confirmation hearings, preferred to refer to “enhanced interrogation tecniques” (“torture” as defined in the U.N. Convention Against Torture) as “EIT’s”. Presumably, we will soon be referring simply to the “DM” and individuals who were dealt with through “DM techniques”, or maybe just “DMT” for short.

George Orwell wrote of the abuse of language as the sure methodology of totalitarian movements and states. One of the key concepts is to divorce words from any unpleasant images or feelings which they might conjure up.

So, we can see how euphemisms such as “extraordinary rendition” avoid the unpleasant associations of a kidnapping squad which, acting under the authorization of the American president but in flagrant violation of both domestic and international law, grabs someone off the street and “renders” him to a CIA “black site” (secret jail) or to a foreign power where he is likely to be tortured, and held in conditions completely violating his fundamental human rights (right to a lawyer, right to due process, including trial by an independent court, in public, for specific violations of public laws, etc).

Or, how “enhanced interrogation techniques”, or “EIT’s” for short, avoid associated images of a man experiencing drowning as he is waterboarded, or his body and mind are abused in other ways which, if actually described accurately, would call up associated images which in ordinary people produce feelings of physical disgust.

Now, at the pinnacle of our Orwellian linguistic pyramid we have the stunningly opaque yet descriptive euphemism of “the disposition matrix”. This would be a wonderful title for a movie, and undoubtedly will become one.

What is different, however, is that in the past such movies were usually told from the point of view of the victims or the potential victims, whereas in the White House and other agencies the term is used with pride, without self-doubt, by today’s bureaucrats entrusted with the efficient protection of society from terrorists who would do us harm. (The bureaucratization of this killing machine brings to mind other killing machines, and places like Auschwitz and Treblinka.)

Not to worry: Citizens need not be troubled by the images that would come up if factually descriptive words told us exactly what the operations entailed, here the killing of another human being without due process of law (as that term is defined in international human rights treaties and indeed the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution of the United States).

The disposition matrix is just one piece of architecture which when used by others in the future could form part of a totalitarian state.

Other elements would be total surveillance of individuals in society who might pose a challenge, any challenge, to those who control the machinery of the state. Another would be the ability of the government to influence and move public opinion by using personal data to sway voters in electoral campaigns, as the Democrats and Obama did so successfully in the 2012 elections.

Another element would be the use of secret laws and secret legal justifications, and the state secrets privilege, to avoid public debate and public challenges in the courts to governmental actions violating basic constitutional rights (e.g., free speech, due process, Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, etc.).

A final element would be control of the flow of information, an enterprise in which Google has been obtaining vast experience, dealing with authoritarian regimes throughout the world.

Already Google “filters” what results you see in a search by nationality, language, and algorithms based on your previous search history. One result, even now, is that you are less likely to see press reports and opinion critical of U.S. government actions and policies which are published outside the U.S. (e.g., in England, Canada, or Australia) or in a language other than English. Further, Google has the ability to delay the indexing of blogs or other pages, so that you cannot see critical opinion in a timely manner, in real time.

For example, let’s see how long it takes Google to index this article. See “Do search engines delay indexing of blog posts they don’t like?” The Trenchant Observer, June 5, 2013.

Another way to control the flow of information is to go after its source, for the government to go after its critics, as in the James Risen case, or to intimidate journalists so that they engage in self-censorship. These are old tools typically used by authoritarian regimes. What is different is the magnitude of the threat and its reach as the result of new technological capabilities.

The pieces are not all in place. But they are moving in that direction.

For details on “the disposition matrix”, see

Jonathan S. Landay and Marisa Taylor (McClatchy Washington Bureau), “Experts: Obama’s plan to predict future leakers unproven, unlikely to work,” McClatchey newspapers, July 9, 2013.

Greg Miller, “Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists,” Washington Post, October 23, 2012.

Ian Cobain, “Obama’s secret kill list – the disposition matrix; The disposition matrix is a complex grid of suspected terrorists to be traced then targeted in drone strikes or captured and interrogated. And the British government appears to be colluding in it,” The Guardian, July 14, 2013 (14.00 EDT).

Daniel Byman and Benjamin Wittes, “How Obama’s ‘Disposition Matrix’ Decides The Fate Of ‘Terrorists’,” The Atlantic, January 3, 2013.

See also Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, “Obama is laying the foundations of a dystopian future; The US leader’s successors will be able to target anyone, say Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick,” Financial Times, July 10, 2013 (7:36 p.m.).p

How can we, and the American Republic, survive the personal tragedy of Barack Obama and its nefarious consequences? Obama is the protagonist of a Greek tragedy, the story a would-be hero brought down by a tragic flaw. In his case, that flaw is hubris, unbounded arrogance, and something approaching disdain for the views of those who diagree with him. We are talking of behavior manifested by action, not the endless stream of words issuing from the White House.

He is a president who imagined himself as entering history in the company of such real heroes as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela, but who will instead be remembered as the “Bush and Cheney on steroids” who systematically undermined the Constitution in a quest for unlimited power over the lives and fates of others.

In this quest, characterized by secret legal opinions and secret judicial decisions and covert activities, “the covert commander in chief” sought to become and ultimately succeeded in becoming responsible to no one–not to Congress, not to the courts, not to the informed judgments of citizens with access to the truth about government actions, and not to the judgments of other states regarding the legality of his actions and policies under international law.

In view of the above, we must ask ourselves:

How will we ever re-establish the complete and full rule of law in the United States? This will be the most critical question facing Americans for the remainder of Obama’s second term, and perhaps far beyond.

The Trenchant Observer

(Der scharfsinniger Beobachter)
(L’Observateur Incisif)
(El Observador Incisivo)
(O Observador Incisivo)

What difference does it make if John Brennan is confirmed?

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

In the end, what difference does it make if John Brennan is confirmed as CIA Director by the Senate?

1. Well, for one thing, it may be the last chance for the Senate to get control of a failed foreign policy, and to actually put someone in who would complement Secretary of State John Kerry–as a member of a team that can get the nation’s foreign policy back on a track that might avoid further disasters, and maybe even lead to some successes.

Vali Nasr, the Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of International Affairs, is publishing a book, The Dispensable Nation, which is coming out in April and is already making waves as one of the first hard-hitting assessments of Obama’s foreign policy in his first term.. And the story isn’t pretty. Obama has led the nation into one failure after another, but liberals and Democrats have been unwilling to hold him accountable. The president, after all, perfectly represents the mood of the American people, by and large, who just want to get out of Bush’s wars and focus on domestic issues.

But the world exists, regardless of what the public in general want, and it keeps turning. It keeps spinning, in fact, in ways that often seem adverse to U.S. interests, and sometimes it seems even to be spinning out of control.

Brennan’s confirmation will tilt the balance of Obama’s foreign policy team back to the place where it has been for the last four years, with Obama mainly interested in killing terrorists by drones, while at the same time dragging his feet in other international crIsis arenas, such as Syria, Mali, or even Libya (until the French and the British dragged the U.S. into it, once Security Council authorzation was secured). Obama, in the end, is not interested in foreign policy, and doesn’t know how to conduct it. So he, and we, need a strong team.

2. Brennan is the High Priest of the war on terror, the Holy Warrior leading “The Last Crusade” against the Islamic terrorist infidels. And the strategy is simple–simply to kill them before they kill us. He is not plagued by self-doubt. Obama, in becoming a warrior himself, may have modeled himself on Brennan.

The only problem is that we may have been so busy fighting this war of  targeted executions that we failed to notice, much less try to influence, strategic developments of enormous significance.

While Brennan was busy managing the “kill lists” and coordinating drone strikes on the infidels, Obama was giving up the ship to Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, offering Morsi  support and not criticism when he launched his legal coup d’etat on November 22, abrogating the rule of law in the nascent democracy of Egypt. Morsi pushed through his illegitimate constitution, shutting down the Constitutional Court with brown-shirt tactics in the street.

What difference does that make?

Well, for one thing, al-Azhar university, which is the highest center of Islamic learning in the city which is the cultural capital of the Arab world, is now facing increasing pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists to assume a more fundamentalist approach to religious issues. These include those covered by the sharia, or Islamic law, now raised to a position of preeminence in Morsi’s Islamist constitution.

In effect, Brennan was leading Obama to go and try to kill terrorist leaders with drones, while the geotectonic plates of the Middle East were shifting in Egypt. As this was taking place, Obama and Hillary Clinton remained frozen, unable to act as events unfolded in Egypt. Yet the success of terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa is likely to be determined much more by developments at al-Azhar that by mid-level terrorists being killed by drones in Yemen

3. Then there are the moral issues. Torture. Extraordinary renditions to states which torture. Secret CIA “black prisons”, hidden from everyone, even the International Committee of the Red Cross. And targeted executions, including “signature” strikes against unknown individuals who evidenced a pattern of activities indicating they were terrorists. Any male over 14 killed in a drone attack was automatically deemed to be a terrorist, which was one way of keeping civilian casualties down–at least for those living within the White House bubble.

It is interesting how Brennan makes his legal arguments purporting to justify targeted killings.  He paints a picture of the ideal case. The  real cases, however, where unknown boys 14 years of age or older merit having their guts spattered in the sand, are cases we don’t know about, and whose justifying legal memoranda we will never see, because they are secret, indeed if in individual cases they exist at all. A legal opinion to support an execution would have to be individual, taking the specific facts of the case into account, and public, and presented to a competent judicial authority.

4. There are also issues of individual moral responsibility, and guilt, incurred by killing people outside the civilizing strucures of law, including international law.

Senators voting on Brennan face this moral responsibility, and potentially moral guilt from sanctioning actions which, in strictly legal terms, might be characterized as presumptive war crimes or other international crimes.

Like the Argentine politicians and generals who argued they faced the cancer of terrorism, Brennan’s supporters may find plausible arguments for going along with international crimes.

Then there is the argument that we should let bygones be bygones. Just turn the page, and move on.  Of course that was not the position adopted by Justice Robert Jackson at Nuremberg.

If there is one book the Senators might want to read before voting on the Brennan nomination, it is “The Question of German Guilt”, by the famous German philosopher Karl Jaspers. Jaspers, in a series of lectures at the University of Heidelberg in 1948, articulated with elegant distinctions the kinds of criminal, political, moral and existential guilt Germans might feel or be accused of, as the blinders came off about what Hitler and the Nazis had done in the Third Reich. His analysis is exceedingly pertinent to “The Question of American Guilt”.

There are also a few films the Senators might want to watch before voting on the Brennan nomination. One of the best is “The Official Story”, winner of an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1985, which addresses questions of individual moral responsibility in the Argentine context. “Judgment at Nuremberg”, with Spencer Tracy starring as Justice Jackson, would be another.

Given Brennan’s use of the “cancer” metaphor to describe terrorism’s advances, the Senators might benefit from watching “Z”, Costa-Gavras’ film about the right-wing coup in Greece. Then there is always “Missing”, a film starring Jack Lemon which in the context of Agusto Pinochet’s coup in Chile powerfully conveys the impact on individuals and families of those who abandon law in favor of pure force in their battle against the “cancer” of terrorism–as they see it.

5. We must bear witness to the truth and fight to uphold the rule of law. Just as the excesses of the “Palmer raids” in 1919, or the internment of Japanese citizens in World War II, came to be understood as great deviations from the rule of law, so too some day future historians will ask, “Did no one oppose these outrageous violations of fundamental rights, or seek to prevent them from being carried out?”

We and others, at least, must speak out–as loudly and effectively as we can–so that there is some evidence that people opposed these outrages upon the Constitution and the rule of law. The challenges we face are not as great as those faced by Sophie Scholl, who distributed pamphlets in Hitler”s Germany, for which she was executed, or others who faced the power of totalitarian states, yet nonetheless spoke out.

In seeking to answer the historians’ question, the vote of individual Senators on the Brennan nomination will be duly noted, and the judgment of history will be entered, and it will fall upon those who vote, or abstain or are absent, on the Brennan nomination in the Senate.

Did this or that Senator stand up for the rule of law, and vote against a confirmation that would send a clear signal to the world that America endorses holy warriors who have no regard for international law and human rights? Or not?

How did these Senators, on the dates of these votes, define the nature of American Democracy in 2013? That is the question historians will ask, and about which they will write.

The Trenchant Observer

Imagine: The Collapse of International Order, Syria, and Berlin in 1945

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

There is nothing inevitable about international order.

The lessons of two world wars which informed the creation of the United Nations in 1945, and the maintenance of international peace and security for over 60 years, can be forgotten.

It is entirely conceivable that without decisive leadership from either Europe or the United States, the international order that has existed for many decades could start to wobble and even collapse.

And it is nearly impossible to conceive of such leadership emerging any time soon.

The rubble in Syria resembles the rubble in Berlin and the destruction in Germany in 1945, which occurred the last time the international order collapsed.

How bad could it get?

You could have wars like the one in Syria devastating countries in Africa, a nuclear attack on Los Angeles from North Korea, Iran with nuclear weapons and delivery systems within 5-10 years, and Israel surrounded by hostile Islamist states.

Things could fall apart.

Imagine a world without law, without international law governing the use of force which is generally observed and which states seek to uphold when it is violated.

Imagine a  world in which states use force without acknowledging they have acted, and without any obligation to publicly justify the legitimacy of their actions by reference to international law.

That is the direction in which we are heading.

The Trenchant Observer

European court of human rights condemns Macedonia for “extraordinary rendition” to cooperating CIA officials, in Khaled el-Masri case

Friday, December 28th, 2012

News to Note


Nicholas Kulish, “Court Finds Rights Violation in C.I.A. Rendition Case,” New York Times, December 13, 2012.

Amrit Singh, “European court of human rights finds against CIA abuse of Khaled el-Masri; America must now apologise to the German citizen, a victim of mistaken identity who was kidnapped and beaten by the CIA,” The Guardian, December 13, 2012.

Richard Norton-Taylor, “CIA ‘tortured and sodomised’ terror suspect, human rights court rules; Landmark European court of human rights judgment says CIA tortured wrongly detained German citizen,” The Guardian, December 13, 2012.

For a detailed description of the judment, see “Macedonian Government responsible for torture, ill-treatment and secret rendition of a man suspected of terrorist ties,” Press Release, issued by the Registrar of the Court, Doc. ECHR 453 (2012) 13.12.2012.

The decision was made by a unanimous vote of the 17-member Grand Chamber of the Court, comprised of the following members:

Nicolas Bratza (United Kingdom), President,
Françoise Tulkens (Belgium),
Josep Casadevall (Andorra),
Dean Spielmann (Luxembourg),
Nina Vajić (Croatia),
Peer Lorenzen (Denmark),
Karel Jungwiert (Czech Republic),
Khanlar Hajiyev (Azerbaijan),
Isabelle Berro-Lefèvre (Monaco),
Luis López Guerra (Spain),
Ledi Bianku (Albania),
Işıl Karakaş (Turkey),
Vincent A. de Gaetano (Malta),
Julia Laffranque (Estonia),
Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos (Greece),
Erik Møse (Norway),
Helen Keller (Switzerland)


Whoever President Obama’s nominee to be Director of the CIA may turn out to be, the first question in his or confirmation hearings should be to explain the international law underpinnings of this decision, and their implications for extraordinary renditions, torture, and the use of drones under current U.S. policy.

Obama and U.S. intelligence officials, including John Brennan and others in the White House don’t “get” international law.

The confirmation hearings should make sure that they do. International law is the language of international relations in the world today, not 17th century “just war theory” as Brennan, the President and other national security officials would have us believe.

Any nominee to be the head of the CIA sould know every detail of this case by heart, and be able to explain it to any member of the Senate. Obviously, it will also be important to know precisely what the involvement of the nominee, if any, has been in cases of extraordinary rendition, torture, and the use of kill lists and drones to conduct extrajudicial executions, both inside and outside the theater of the war in Afganistan

The Trenchant Onserver

The Baltasar Garzón Case: In Spain, justice itself is on trial

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

“The Supreme Court of Spain should deserve our respect. What we now appear to see is a court populated by kangaroos, full of malicious and evil intent.

But then the law, and the demand for justice, sometimes produce miracles.

The members of the Spanish Supreme Court are sworn to uphold justice, and have spent their careers pursuing a calling whose end is justice. They may yet respond to the age-old and deeper call for justice, correcting the grave deficiencies in the proceedings to date against Garzón, by reaching a just verdict in both the Gürtel network and the “historical memory” cases. Failure to aquit Garzón in either would constitute a true case of prevaricación.

The brighter the lights on these nefarious proceedings, the louder the critical analysis and the more outspoken the criticism, perhaps the greater the odds will be that such a miracle may still occur in the case of Baltasar Garzón.”

In a kind of perfect storm orchestrated by the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Spain, two of the three cases that have been brought against Investigating Judge Baltasar Garzón of the Audiencia Nacional are coming to trial this week and next. After sitting on the cases for two years, the honorable justices of the Supreme Court appear to have decided to maximize the stress on Garzón and his lawyers by trying him in both cases practically at the same time.

For reports of the cases against Garzón and the first day’s proceedings in the so-called Gürtel Wiretap cases (las escuchas Gürtel), see

“Baltasar Garzon, famed for inquiries into abuses in Spain and Latin America, faces charges of abusing judicial powers, Al Jazeera (English), January 17, 2012 (TV report).

El Observador Incisivo (The Trenchant Observer), “¡Que pena para España! Los casos contra Garzón llegan al juicio,” 16 de enero de 2012. This article may be translated into English using Google Translate, for a pretty good machine translation.

First impressions from today:

To hear this vigorous man speak in a raspy and stress-filled voice in the opening moments of the trial was to appreciate in an instant the enormous human toll that has been extracted from him by the Spanish state, acting through its judiciary. No matter how courageous the judge or defendant, the power of the state is always awesome and, without the defense of the law in action, it can easily crush anyone.

The cases against Garzón, which the Trenchant Observer has been following for over two years, seem to represent an evil attempt to destroy him for being a courageous judge — one willing to expose the immense corruption of the Partido Popular by the Gürtel gang or network, one willing to touch upon–ever so slightly–the massive crimes committed by Franco and his government up until his death on November 20, 1975.

By coincidence, exactly 37 years later to the day, the Partido Popular won parliamentary elections resulting in the ascension of Mariano Rajoy to the position of president of the government (roughly equivalent to prime minister).

There is an interesting U.S. angle to Garzón’s tribulations as well. Garzón authorized investigations into the torture of two Spanish nationals at Guantánamo, and also was poised to investigate six lawyers in the Justice Department and the White House responsible for the architecture of the torture policy of the Bush administration. According to Wikileaks cables, the U.S. intervened with the Spanish government, exercised presssure, and Gárzon was removed from these cases.

See Carlos Yárnoz, “US Embassy conspired to derail cases in Spain’s High Court:
Wikileaks reveals that prosecutors kept diplomats abreast of their legal strategies, with Washington lawmakers also intervening,” El País, November 30, 2011 (English edition);

In October, 2009, the Spanish government secured the amendment of the law to eliminate the exercise of “universal jurisdiction” over the authors of crimes like torture.

So, at the very least, the U.S. signaled to Spain that it wanted to eliminate Garzon’s participation in these cases. Whether that amounted to a green light to go after him and to take him out of action, and if so whether that has any bearing on the extraordinary lengths to which the Spanish Supreme Court has gone in order to end his career, has not been established. However, it seems like a plausible scenario.


Craig Whitlock, “Universal Jurisdiction’: Spain’s Judges Target Torture: High-Ranking US Officials Among Targets of Inquiries,” The Washington Post, May 24, 2009.

José Yoldi, “Las Cortes recortan la jurisdicción universal,” El País, 16 de octubre de 2009

Jesús Duva, “Bajo la lupa de EE.UU.: El antiamericano’ Garzón tuvo especial seguimiento; La Embajada consideraba al magistrado un personaje incómodo y presionó para acabar con la jurisdicción universal,”El País, 2 de diciembre de 2010. (A number of U.S. cables relating to Garzón and released by Wikileaks are reproduced in the December 2, 2010 edition of El País.)

See also Amy Goodman, “Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón on Holding Torturers Accountable, Why He Opposes the Killing of Osama bin Laden, and His Threatened Ouster from the Bench,”Democracy Now, May 12, 2010.

Manifiesto–Plataforma de Apoyo al Juez Garzon,

Europe, the international community, and all advocates of the rule of law should keep bright lights shining on the proceedings underway in the Spanish Supreme Court.

These days will live in history, and may be cited as emblematic of a corrupt society in which the criminals succeeded in ending the career of the magistrate who ordered their detention, and/or the far-right parties reminiscent of Franco’s Spain succeeded in bringing a case against the judge who would have opened the first page in the historical record of the abuses committed under Franco. The plaintiffs were reportedly aided by the active assistance of the first-instance judge in preparing their case. He sits on one of the panels that will judge Garzón.

The Supreme Court of Spain should deserve our respect. What we now appear to see is a court populated by kangaroos, full of malicious and evil intent.

But then the law, and the demand for justice, sometimes produce miracles.

The members of the Spanish Supreme Court are sworn to uphold justice, and have spent their careers pursuing a calling whose end is justice. They may yet respond to the age-old and deeper call for justice, correcting the grave deficiencies in the proceedings against Garzón, by reaching a just verdict in both the Gürtel network and the “historical memory” cases. Failure to aquit Garzón in either would constitute a true case of prevaricación.

The brighter the lights on these nefarious proceedings, the louder the critical analysis and the more outspoken the criticism, perhaps the greater the odds will be that such a miracle may still occur in the case of Baltasar Garzón.

The Trenchant Observer

Background Reading for the Nobel Acceptance Speech in Oslo: The U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Friday, December 4th, 2009

As President Obama Prepares to receive his Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2009, and to offer his “lecture” or acceptance speech, it would be well worth his while, and ours, to read carefully the text of the U.N. Convention Against Torture.

The first seven articles of the Convention, which are of particular importance, state the following:

Article 1
1. For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

Article 2
1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

Article 3
1. No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

Article 4
1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.
2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.

Article 5
1. Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offences referred to in article 4 in the following cases:
(1) When the offences are committed in any territory under its jurisdiction or on board a ship or aircraft registered in that State;
(2) When the alleged offender is a national of that State;
(3) When the victim was a national of that State if that State considers it appropriate.
2. Each State Party shall likewise take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over such offences in cases where the alleged offender is present in any territory under its jurisdiction and it does not extradite him pursuant to article 8 to any of the States mentioned in Paragraph 1 of this article.
3. This Convention does not exclude any criminal jurisdiction exercised in accordance with internal law.

Article 6
1. Upon being satisfied, after an examination of information available to it, that the circumstances so warrant, any State Party in whose territory a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is present, shall take him into custody or take other legal measures to ensure his presence. The custody and other legal measures shall be as provided in the law of that State but may be continued only for such time as is necessary to enable any criminal or extradition proceedings to be instituted.
2. Such State shall immediately make a preliminary inquiry into the facts.
3. Any person in custody pursuant to paragraph 1 of this article shall be assisted in communicating immediately with the nearest appropriate representative of the State of which he is a national, or, if he is a stateless person, to the representative of the State where he usually resides.
4. When a State, pursuant to this article, has taken a person into custody, it shall immediately notify the States referred to in article 5, paragraph 1, of the fact that such person is in custody and of the circumstances which warrant his detention. The State which makes the preliminary inquiry contemplated in paragraph 2 of this article shall promptly report its findings to the said State and shall indicate whether it intends to exercise jurisdiction.

Article 7
1. The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found, shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.
2. These authorities shall take their decision in the same manner as in the case of any ordinary offence of a serious nature under the law of that State. In the cases referred to in article 5, paragraph 2, the standards of evidence required for prosecution and conviction shall in no way be less stringent than those which apply in the cases referred to in article 5, paragraph 1.
3. Any person regarding whom proceedings are brought in connection with any of the offences referred to in article 4 shall be guaranteed fair treatment at all stages of the proceedings.

The United States has ratified and is a party to this treaty, and is bound by its terms under international law. In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, President Obama would do well to address the question of how the United States intends to implement these provisions.

The Trenchant Observer

Comments are invited, in any language. If in a language other than English, please provide an English translation if possible.