Greenwald analyzes some unsurprising news from last week:
The Obama administration's aggressive, full-scale whitewashing of the "war on terror" crimes committed by Bush officials is now complete. Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the closing without charges of the only two cases under investigation relating to the US torture program: one that resulted in the 2002 death of an Afghan detainee at a secret CIA prison near Kabul, and the other the 2003 death of an Iraqi citizen while in CIA custody at Abu Ghraib. This decision, says the New York Times Friday, "eliminat[es] the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought as a result of the brutal interrogations carried out by the CIA".
Adam Serwer adds:
[N]ot everyone connected to Bush-era torture has escaped accountability. John Kiriakou, the former CIA official who went public about interrogation techniques like waterboarding, is being prosecuted for disclosing classified information for allegedly assisting defense attorneys who were seeking to identify interrogators who may have tortured their clients. You can torture a detainee in your custody to death and get away with it. You just can't talk about it.
It's a disgusting sign of the collapse of the rule of law among Washington's elites – pioneered by the Obama Justice Department. War crimes are forgiven; leaks revealing war crimes are punished. That the CIA won't face any accountability for actually torturing people to death has now been cemented in a bipartisan way by a craven president who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize while proceding to make a mockery of the Geneva Conventions for four years. Not prosecuting torture – not torture-homicides – is a grotesque violation of Geneva and makes the current president a violator of Geneva. He better not complain when an American soldier is captured and tortured to death. Scott Horton finds one silver lining:
[T]he homicides in question occurred outside of the United States, and are under the criminal-law jurisdiction of several other nations. The Durham investigation appears to have been prolonged for at least eighteen months beyond its actual conclusion in order to provide a pretext to block related foreign criminal investigations. There is now no reason why those proceedings should not go forward. Indeed, a decision by the Holder Justice Department to establish a principle of impunity means, under established international-law concepts, that other prosecutors and courts are now free to proceed.
We need other countries now to proceed. Some other democracies that, unlike the US, actually abide by the rule of law will at some point have to bring these CIA war criminals – and their more culpabe political masters - to justice. Because the rule of law does not apply in America to elite war criminals – (the poor ones are scapegoated). The CIA is a country unto itself – above the law, or rather, in its embrace of torture, way beneath it. We have no real say over it; nor do presidents.
(Photo: The tortured corpse of Manadel- al-Jamadi. From Wiki:
A ghost prisoner who was not logged in the records said he was passive and nervous "like a scared child", and there was reportedly "no need to get physical with him", though an interrogator soon started shouting at him, demanding to know where weapons were hidden … According to Spc. Jason Kenner, an M.P. with the 372nd Military Police Company, al-Jamadi was brought to the prison by U.S. Navy SEALs in good health; Kenner says he saw that al-Jamadi looked extensively bruised when he was brought out of the showers, dead. According to Kenner a "battle" took place among CIA and military interrogators over who should dispose of the body… On May 28, 2005, Navy SEAL Lieutenant Andrew Ledford, the commanding officer of the platoon of SEALs that were accused of inflicting the fatal beating, was acquitted of all responsibility for al-Jamadi's death… Mark Swanner, the CIA interrogator, has faced no charges. In August 2007, Thomas Pappas, the most senior officer present during the interrogation and time of death, was granted immunity in return for his testimony at the court martial of his subordinate Lieutenant Colonel Steven L. Jordan.)
This kind of immunity for the powerful (at the expense of the less culpable and more easily scapegoated underlings) – a message sent down by the war criminals Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld at the very top – makes me sick to my stomach.