Mr. Durham will examine several cases which were referred to the Justice Department by the C.I.A.’s Inspector General and were subsequently investigated and dropped by the Justice Department under President Bush. The cases were detailed in a 2004 report by the C.I.A. inspector general that was released on Monday by the Justice Department. The report outline cases of abused allegedly committed by C.I.A. personnel and contract employees, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Well, as the president has said repeatedly, he thinks that we should be looking forward, not backward,” Bill Burton, the deputy White House press secretary, told reporters in Oak Bluffs, Mass., where Mr. Obama is vacationing. “He does agree with the attorney general that anyone who conducted actions that had been sanctioned should not be prosecuted.”
"CIA Director Leon Panetta, who has reportedly been engaged in an angry confrontation with the White House over this issue, called the release of the inspector general’s report on abuses 'an old story' and said 'the challenge is not the battles of yesterday, but those of today and tomorrow.'"*
morganw: Someone mentioned that it's a sign of a functioning democracy for an incoming administration not to try to put the last one in prison (perhaps even when they deserve it).
Someone mentioned that it's a sign of a functioning democracy for an incoming administration not to try to put the last one in prison (perhaps even when they deserve it).
Lemmie see if I can nuance it a little. Democracy is a balancing act. It's a balancing act between two different tyrannies: mob rule and aristocracy. Neither one is really fun and both should be avoided to the same degree whenever possible.-- Avenger
An incoming government, upon discovering that it's predecessor has committed grave crimes, will launch investigations and hold the previous leaders responsible for their crimes. In theory, this keeps future governments honest and reduces the need for trials in the future.
In reality, the investigations will be used by the now disfavored party as "proof" of the new government's corruption and dictatorial tendencies. When they retake power (and they inevitably will), they will themselves launch a series of (now blatantly political) investigations and throw the previous government in jail en masse on trumped up charges. -- Avenger
government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate "clearly established" statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.
TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 118 > § 2441
§ 2441. War crimes
(a) Offense.— Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.
. . .
(d) Common Article 3 Violations.—
(1) Prohibited conduct.— In subsection (c)(3), the term “grave breach of common Article 3” means any conduct (such conduct constituting a grave breach of common Article 3 of the international conventions done at Geneva August 12, 1949), as follows:
(A) Torture.— The act of a person who commits, or conspires or attempts to commit, an act 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 for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation, coercion, or any reason based on discrimination of any kind.
During a triumphal U.S. speaking tour General Frederick Funston, bearing a Congressional Medal of Honor and harboring political ambitions, bellicosely promoted total war. In Chicago he boasted of sentencing 35 suspects to death without trial and enthusiastically endorsed torture and civilian massacres. He even publicly suggested that anti-war protestors be dragged out of their homes and lynched.
Funston's words met far more applause than criticism. In San Francisco he suggested that the editor of a noted anti-imperialist paper “ought to be strung up to the nearest lamppost.” At a banquet in the city he called Filipinos “unruly savages” and (now) claimed he had personally killed fifty prisoners without trial. Captain Edmond Boltwood, an officer under Funston, confirmed that the general had personally administered the water cure to captives, and had told his troops “to take no prisoners.”
[Marine Commander Tony] Waller was acquitted because he followed the orders [“I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better it will please me”] of Smith, and later retired with two stars. “Howling Jake” Smith was convicted, but he returned to a tumultuous citizens' welcome in San Francisco.
The water cure became front-page news when William Howard Taft, appointed U.S. Governor of the Philippines, testified under oath before Congress and let the cat out of the bag. The “so called water cure,” he admitted, was used “on some occasions to extract information.” The Arena, an opposition paper, called his words “a most humiliating admission that should strike horror in the mind of every American.” Around the same time as Taft's admission a soldier boasted in a letter made public that he had used the water cure on 160 people and only 26 had survived. The man was compelled by the War Department to retract his damaging confession.
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