Developing — preliminary draft
(1) “Comissão Nacional da Verdade entrega a Dilma relatório final das investigawções; Presidente recebeu em audiência no Palácio do Planalto, às 9h, os seis integrantes da CNV,” O GLOBO, 10 dezembro 2014 8:28 ( ATUALIZADO 10/12/2014 10:03 h)i
(2) Comissão da Verdade, “Relatorio Final,” O Estado de Sao Paulo, 1d0 Dezembro 2014.
(3) (Brasilia / Sao Paulo)”CRIMES DA DITADURA: Comissão pede punição para 377 pelos crimes da ditadura; LISTA INCLUI PRESIDENTES; GRUPO DIZ QUE LEI DA ANISTIA NÃO SE APLICA; FORÇAS ARMADAS SILENCIAM SOBRE RELATÓRIO,” Folha de Sao Paulo, 10 Dezembro 2014.
(4) “The Senate Committee’s Report on the C.I.A.’s Use of Torture,” New York Times, DEC. 9, 2014.
It will take a few days to process all that is being said about the Senate Torture Report and its contents. The report was released on December 9, 2014.
Today, on December 10, 2014, Human Rights Day, the Brazilian Truth Commission released its report on the crimes committed under military rule from 1964 to 1985.
The two documents should perhaps be read together, so Americans can learn a thing or two from the Brazilian experience.
The U.S. Senate report is narrowly focused on acts of torture and other cruel and inhuman punishment committed by the CIA from September 11, 2001 through the end of the Bush presidency in January, 2009. Subjects excluded are acts of torture committed by the military, and procedures followed after January 2009, when Barack Obama became president.
The Brazilian report, while delayed for 30 years, is much more comprehensive. It is not heavily redacted like the Executive Summary of the U.S. Senate Report, is published in full and not just as an Executive Summary, and lists names, dates, victims, and the individuals responsible for the crimes that were committed.
One other difference stands out: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has not given free reign to those in the government to defend in public the commission of what constitute grave international crimes.
In the U.S., the former architects and implementers of torture have launched an all-out public relations campaign aimed at persuading the public that the actions they carried out were necessary, legal, morally justified, and produced critically important imformation that saved innocent lives.
On the legal issue, it is worth stressing that the crimes they committed were felonies under U.S. law as well as international crimes under the U.N. Torture Convention, other Human Rights conventions, and humanitarian law (the Law of War), including the 1949 Geneva Conventions and subsequent Protocols.
They argue that they were carrying out orders from top government officials, under legal guidance from the Department of Justice.
But they ignore the fact that “due obedience” to a superior order, or even under purported legal cover from the Department of Justice, is no defense to the charges of international crimes for which they may still one day have to answer.
The president does not have the authority to legally authorize the commission of torture or other international crimes.
No court can order torture, or approve of its use.
However loud their cries of self-justification may be today, they would be well advised to make their future travel plans abroad with meticulous care.
For while Barack Obama has refused to prosecute them, under the Convention Against Tortue other countries may some day bring them to justice.
There is a hidden benefit to the public relations campaign now underway by those who would defend and justify the use of torture. They are identifying themselves publicly as “friends of torture”.
A list should be made of those making these arguments, which could be helpful to future prosecutors looking for officials or former officials who may be suspected of committing torture, or who might serve as material witnesses in other cases.
The list should also be useful in identifying present or former government officials who are releasing, apparently without authorization, classified information which they seek to marshal in the defense of torture.
There is one further aspect which is worth reflecting on. While the “friends of torture” are arguing loudly and vociferously that torture was justified, and they were justified in adopting policies or committing acts of torture, they at the same time have argued that release of the Senate report would pose risks to Americans and American interests abroad.
But think about it for a minute. Won’t the declarations that torture was justified, and “produced results”, simply confirm the beliefs of jihaddists and others who they seek to recruit or win over, that the U.S. remains a country that believes in torture, and whatever Obama’s Executive Order may state, is a country that will resort to torture in the future whenever it believes that it will be effective in securing useful information?
In short, the “friends of torture” are undermining America’s statement of its commitment to the world that it will never commit torture again.
Of course, the real issues that should be considered are whether it is morally or legally permissible to commit felonies or international crimes against the physical integrity of another human being, however effective it might be in securing some immediate objective.
The argument is no different from an argument that it is morally permissible to kill another human being without a valid legal excuse, merely in order to achieve some important private or public goal. Certainly no civilized country could allow a private individual to commit such crimes, and even less so can we permit a government official, acting with the authority and power of the state, to take a human life or violate the physical integrity of another human being.
Finally, the “friends of torture” argue that torture works.
It may, in some cases, which did not prevent the Romans from banning the use of torture against Roman citizens, or Europe and America beginning in the 18th century from banning the tortue of any human being.
Our experience with Japan and Germany in World War II confirmed the absolute necessity of protecting human beings from torture by government officials, under any circumstances.
It is remarkable that during Workd War II the United States did not adopt a policy of using torture, despite the exigencies of those times. Indeed, until 2001 the U.S. upheld the prohibition of torture, while prosecuting those responsible for its commission.
Obama has violated and continues to violate the peremptory obligation under the Torture Convention to prosecute those who are suspected of planning or participating in acts of torture.
The United States must now move to follow the Brazilian example, or one like it, by publishing all of the facts on U.S. acts and policies of torture, with names and dates of perpetrators as well as victims, in unredacted form.
Those responsible for torture should then be prosecuted–there is no statute of limitations for international crimes–or required to go through a peace and reconciliation process in which they admit their crimes as a condition for leniency or even pardon.
if Obama wants to limit the risks to Americans and damage to U.S. interests, he should start by ordering John Brennan and other intelligence operatives in the U.S. government to shut up, to stop trying to publicly justify their acts of torture, which were contrary to current U.S. policy and legal obligations, both international and domestic.
He should also prosecute those “friends if torture” who are releasing without authorization classified information in their defense of torture.
Finally, he should fire John Brennan, who clearly is not equipped or willing to reform the CIA so as to ensure it never commits torture in the future.