02 May 2008

Open Letter to the United States Congress

We are waiting. It has been 22 days since the ABC News report and subsequent interview with the President, revealing that the Principals group of the National Security Council met in the Situation Room at the White House and planned interrogation procedures rising to the level of torture step by step, and that they did so with full knowledge and approval of the President of the United States. Examination of extant news reports, interviews with high ranking officials from the CIA, interviews with CIA interrogators like John Kiriakou, clearly show that during the interrogations, permission was sought, technique by technique, and that results were reported up the chain before getting orders for the next technique. [on pages 20-21 of the ABC transcript of the Brian Ross interview with Kiriakou it says they went to the Deputy Director of Ops on each slap. We now know that the CIA didn't want to be left in the cold on this so they took each slap to the White House [ABC report on the Principals]. So the Principals were, in effect, conducting the torture of high-value detainees in real time: supervising torture directly by cable.]

You are the People's Representatives, responsible, among other things, for calling for independent investigators, prosecutors, and drawing up articles of impeachment against the President, the Vice-President, and his cabinet secretaries. Below are the laws that apply to you. They apply to you because, under our treaty obligations we are required not just to abstain from torture, but to vigorously prosecute torturers. If you draw up articles, or appoint a prosecutor, you are obeying those laws. If not, you are failing your oath of office (to uphold the Constitution), and you are in violation of the treaties named: the Convention Against Torture, and the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Since those treaties are implemented in U.S. law, you are in violation of the War Crimes Act as well. There's no end to how wrong this administration can be, they are totally lawless, and without humanity and shame. You are a willing participant in the event that you know, and from your position of power, you do nothing. History will not forgive a Congress too timid to act.

The people are waiting for criminal action. You are in the situation that you, the Congress, are in violation of international law for your lack of prosecution of torturers. And still no action. You are, by silence, participating in the greatest national shame in modern times. There is only so much the American people should be asked to endure in their names. After that, it becomes necessary to dissolve the bonds that tie men into nations, since our government has become a paragon of evil and lawbreaking and no longer represents us. And we shouldn't need to sign our signatures as large as John Hancock for the government to be able to read them without their glasses.

Please act with courage to end this national shame and horror.


Article IV paragraph 2, U.S. Constitution, on the status of treaties:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Article 4, United Nations Convention Against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment (CATCIDT)

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 6, CATCIDT, paragraphs 1 and 2.

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.

Article 12, CATCIDT

Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.

Geneva Conventions, Articles 129, 130, 131

Art 129. The High Contracting Parties undertake to enact any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present Convention defined in the following Article.

Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed. or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such High Contracting Party has made out a prima facie case.

Each High Contracting Party shall take measures necessary for the suppression of all acts contrary to the provisions of the present Convention other than the grave breaches defined in the following Article.

In all circumstances, the accused persons shall benefit by safeguards of proper trial and defence, which shall not be less favourable than those provided by Article 105 and those following of the present Convention.

Art 130. Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the Convention: wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, compelling a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of the hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a prisoner of war of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in this Convention.

Art 131. No High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contracting Party of any liability incurred by itself or by another High Contracting Party in respect of breaches referred to in the preceding Article.