10
Jun
2004

Freibrief zum Foltern

Der Bericht des Wallstreet Journals, der die Bemühungen der US-Regierung dokumentiert, sich einen Freibrief zum Foltern von Gefangenen auszustellen: //links.net-hh.de/?lid=22169

Dieser beruhte auf einer zweigeteilten Argumentation:

1) Soldaten und Offiziere der US-Armee könnten sich berufen auf höhere Weisungen, die sie zu befolgen hätten, und für die sie nicht zur Rechenschaft zu ziehen seinen.

2) Der Präsident / das Weiße Haus wiederum, deren Weisungen Folge geleistet würde, ständen außerhalb jeder Rechtssprechung und hätten die Freiheit, alles anzuordnen, was sie für das Wohl und die Sicherheit des Landes als richtig erachteten. Dies gelte insbesondere dann, wenn die Gefahr von Terroranschlägen bestünde (die im Irak als permanent gegeben anzunehmen ist)

Von dieser Argumentation wurde offensichtlich im Irak (etwa in Abu Ghuraib) und in Afghanistan umfassend Gebrauch gemacht.

Die Studie zum "rechtmäßigen" Einsatz von Foltermethoden bei Verhören, die von der Bush-Regierung in Auftrag gegeben wurde, umfasst ca. 100 Seiten und wurde der Geheimhaltung für die nächsten 10 Jahre unterworfen.

Mary Ellen O'Connell, Professorin für internationales Recht in Ohio, die die Studie zu Gesicht bekam, kommentierte den Inhalt: der Bericht sei "designed to find the legal loopholes that will permit the use of torture against detainees", also befasse sich mit der Suche nach rechtlichen Schlupflöchern, die die Anwendung der Folter gegenüber Gefangenen legitimieren könnten.

Justizminister Ashcroft weigerte sich gegenüber dem Justizausschuss des Kongresses Einsicht in die Untersuchung zu geben, die zweifellos geeignet ist, ihn und die Regierung insgesamt schwer zu belasten.

Der Historiker Juan Cole (Professor an der University of Michigan und Irakexperte) etikettiert den Vorgang nun als "Torturegate" und zitiert die Paragraphen des amerikanischen Strafrechts, die - entgegen der Studie - in Anwendung zu bringen sind, und die das Strafmass für die Verantwortlichen des Einsatzes von Folter in schweren Fällen, d.h. bei tödlichem Ausgang für eins der Opfer, mit lebenslänglicher Haft oder sogar mit der Todesstrafe bedrohen:

Torturegate, G8, and the Greater Middle East

The Wall Street Journal's revelation of White House counsels' memoranda permitting what most people would consider torture-- on the basis of the president's position as commander in chief in wartime-- is among the most chilling things we have seen from a Bush administration not lacking in chills for civil libertarians. It seems clear from the anger expressed by senators like Joe Biden in the hearings addressed by Attorney General John Ashcroft on Tuesday that they now suspect Bush himself authorized the Abu Ghuraib torture routines. And, they are helpless to do anything about it.

The revelations about the torture memos
//www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/06/08/1086460297930.html have cast a cloud over Bush's presentations at the G8 summit in Georgia. Since the Bush centerpiece at that conference was supposed to be promoting democracy in the Middle East, the Torturegate revelations pointed to US feet of clay. Wire services
//www.hipakistan.com/en/detail.php?newsId=en67357&F_catID=&f_type=source noted Bush's complete failure with Middle Eastern leaders at the summit:

"In an effort to demonstrate engagement with Arabs on the issues, Mr Bush invited the leaders of a number of Islamic countries to attend a lunch on Wednesday with G8 leaders, at their own expense. But leaders of some key nations, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco, turned down the invitation, and Qatar was purposely snubbed because of administration anger at al-Jazeera's coverage of the Iraq war. Ms Rice cited scheduling issues as the reason Morocco and Egypt - one of the effort's harshest critics - will not appear."

That sounds pretty sad.

With regard to the memos themselves, As usual, Josh Marshall //www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2004_06_06.php#003045 is on the case. And, Billmon has an amusing //billmon.org/archives/001518.html treatment of the hypocrisy of Mary L. Walker, the US Air Force general counsel who led the team of lawyers that wrote the torture memos. (She claims to be a Christian. On the other hand, we cynical lefties should remember that it was Christian soldiers who blew the whistle on Abu Ghuraib, out of stricken consciences.)

A Republican Congress is most unlikely to impeach George W. Bush, even if it does become clear that he is the torturer in chief and that Lynddie England is not the mastermind behind Abu Ghuraib. But he could be prosecuted, even after leaving office, for breaking US law against torture.

United States Code Title 18. Section 2340. Definitions as used in this chapter –

(1) ''torture'' means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

(2) ''severe mental pain or suffering'' means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from -
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and

(3) ''United States'' includes all areas under the jurisdiction of the United States including any of the places described in sections 5 and 7 of this title and section 46501(2) of title 49.

Section 2340A. Torture

(a) Offense. - Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

(b) Jurisdiction. - There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if -
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.

(c) Conspiracy. - A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.

'As Steve Rendell noted
//zzpat.tripod.com/cvb/may_2004/us_torture_pundits.html in a piece a couple of years ago,

Citing Title 18, Section 242 of the United States Code, legal writer Karen L. Snell notes (The Recorder, 10/31/01): "The use of pressure tactics, including torture by proxy, not only renders evidence obtained inadmissible in court. It's also a crime. And it is not just the person who physically or mentally assaults a suspect who is guilty. Any person who aids, abets, counsels or conspires to commit such acts is a criminal." '


Informant Gerhard Wendebourg
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