by Carl Herman
- Former US President, George W. Bush
- Former US Vice President, Dick Cheney
- Former US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld
- Former US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez
- Former Chief of Staff to Cheney, David Attington
- Former General Counsel for the Department of Defense, William Haynes
- Former Assistant Attorney General, Jay Bybee
- Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General, John Yoo
The lawful response to obvious commission of ongoing War Crimes is to arrest the apparent criminal leaders.
The above video has the former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and current law professor Marjorie Cohn state that she limited her book (Cowboy Republic) documenting US War Crimes to six categories, or face encyclopedic length. An example of one point of the War Crime of torture I’ve previously documented: US political and corporate media “leadership” for “waterboarding” (see hyperlink for footnotes):
Let’s briefly consider allegations of US torture to detainees/claimed “unlawful enemy combatants.” Remember, a “detainee” hasn’t been charged with a crime; the person’s habeas corpus right has been destroyed, and the US government currently claims authority to imprison the detainee indefinitely or simply assassinate anyone claimed to be a “terrorist.”
The US applies interrogation techniques to “unlawful enemy combatants/terrorists” that previous case law found were torture.
For example, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have both admitted to authorizing “waterboarding,” (14) found by courts to be unlawful violation of rights and/or torture in all previous case law in the US and internationally (15).
When previous US courts are unanimous in their findings, (16) that means the legal definition of an act is absolutely certain. In this case, waterboarding, or more accurately “controlled drowning,” is unconstitutional.
The US Constitution expressly forbids cruel punishment in the 8th Amendment. United States Federal Law forbids torture under Code 18 section 2340. The US is bound by several treaties to never torture: the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (legally defining the meaning of the UN Charter treaty, and the most-translated document in world history), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (an interesting study of the US saying one thing and doing the opposite), the Geneva Conventions, and the UN Convention Against Torture.
Importantly, these laws do not say there are exceptions to allow torture; that is, the torturer cannot use the specious “ticking time bomb” excuse that torture was required to save lives. For example, one US treaty to end torture is the UN Convention Against Torture. It states under Article 2: (17)
“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”
Convention III of the Geneva Conventions defines torture in Article 3 as, “outrages upon human dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.”
The US refused the UN’s request to inspect the US prison at Guantanamo Bay to evaluate claims of torture (18). The US refused to release to the press the International Red Cross’ findings of the treatment of detainees (19).
The US claims under MCA that the US can remove all protections of persons under interrogation: US Constitution, Geneva Convention, and other applicable treaties. This is in Orwellian contradiction to the US Constitution being the definition of American law (and what it means to “defend America”) and in Article 6 that US treaties are the “Supreme Law of the Land.” The word “supreme” means “highest in rank or authority…greatest, utmost…last or final.”
So let’s pause and digest this. It is as simple, I assert, as our baseball analogy of a runner being out at first base by twenty feet, and an umpire/announcer conspiracy trying to get away with the lie of calling the runner safe. Let’s look:
- By any and all understanding of professional legal practice, waterboarding is defined in the present as unlawful and/or torture because it was so determined in all previous cases.
- The US has legally bound itself in its Constitution, Federal Law, and four treaties to never torture.
- Presidents Bush and Obama, along with corresponding leaders, claim that upon their unquestionable word that someone is a “terrorist,” those laws no longer apply.
- When government is no longer limited by law, that form of government is no longer a Constitutional Republic. Government based upon what the leader says at any given time is the very definition of dictatorship.
- US corporate media does not clearly explain the above legal facts. I mean, this issue is also news to you, yes?
Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney are welcome to argue for waterboarding’s reclassification as a legal practice, of course, but the legally-demanded place under a constitutional republic is in a Federal criminal courtroom, not book or speaking tours earning tens of millions (20).
For an expert legal analysis, you might consider Jonathan Turley, voted among the editors of the American Bar Association Journal as having the US’ top legal blog: (21)
“The United States has a clear obligation to prosecute those responsible for our torture program. However, President Obama has promised to block any investigation of torturers and has stopped any investigation of those who ordered the war crime.”
This would be as if the school principal’s son were a student here and would take tests while having notes on his desk with the test’s content and answers. We know that in all previous “case law” that when a student is caught taking a test with notes that contain test content, that is called “cheating.” However, the principal, son, teacher, and local media call it an “enhanced studying technique,” that while controversial, is necessary for school security against terror-tests that might infiltrate the school from people who hate education. They say this with a straight face. You know that if you did what the principal’s son did, it’s cheating and you’re busted.
Let’s consider US corporate media’s “reporting” in more detail.
This is essential because if American’s access to accurate information is compromised by government propaganda, then Americans will not have easy access to the facts. This is what the California Framework means when it asks you to guard against propaganda. Doing so requires your real-world critical thinking skills.
“Torture at Times: Waterboarding in the Media,” a paper published from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government that studied the US’ four most-read newspapers, found from the 1930s to 2004 that The New York Times reported waterboarding as torture 82% of the time, and The Los Angeles Times did so 96%. After stories broke that the US was waterboarding “detainees” in current US wars, the papers’ reporting of waterboarding as torture dropped to 1% and 5%, respectfully. In addition, after the US admitted to waterboarding, The Wall Street Journal called it torture in just 1 of 63 articles (2%), and USA Today never called it torture.
You should ask and answer: is this legal issue of torture really this objectively clear? Although I’m perfectly free to assert the preceding as facts, you’re perfectly free to determine the facts, their meaning, and what we should do about it for yourself. In professional academics, these factual claims lead to an obvious next move: anyone is welcome to refute the claimed facts to help public understanding on this issue.
But wait, there’s more.
We have verified history of official government propaganda having infiltrated corporate media. The Church Senate Committee hearings had the cooperation of CIA Director William Colby’s testimony that over 400 CIA operatives were controlling US corporate media (22) reporting on specific issues of national interest in what they called Operation Mockingbird. This stunning testimony was then confirmed by Pulitzer Prize reporter Carl Bernstein’s research (23) and reporting. Of course, corporate media refused to publish Bernstein’s article and it became the cover-story for Rolling Stone. For a 13-minute video that includes the President of CBS admitting that their news agency accepted and communicated CIA-generated and planted stories, the CIA Director admitting to the Senate that this is true, examples of widely-reported “news” stories that were total lies from the CIA to foment war support from the US public, watch here (24).
So which conclusion seems most plausible to you:
- US corporate media stopped calling waterboarding “torture” because leading and professional reporters of law somehow forgot or found basic legal definitions based on case law no longer important. I like to characterize this as the “Homer Simpson” or “SpongeBob defense.”
- US corporate media were ordered to change their reporting. Professional writers in law are very aware of looking at case law, and independent legal experts they interview affirm this as basic legal analysis especially when case law is unanimous in verdicts. It’s impossible to explain this removal of reporting waterboarding as legally-defined torture unless the corporate media editors made that conscious decision.
Corporate media won’t report the following polling data, but the American public have noticed something is very wrong with their “news” both as reported by government and regular media.
In 2010, only one in five Americans reported trust and satisfaction with their government (25) (and here ). In 2014, Gallup reported (27) Americans’ confidence in Congress at the historic low of 7%, while 7% reported their confidence level at “none” and half as “very little.”
Americans also perceive corporate media disinformation and are rejecting their “reporting.” According to a 2007 poll by the Pew Research Center (28), the majority of the American public see the US major media news organizations as politically biased, inaccurate, and uncaring. Among those who use the Internet, two-thirds report that major media news do not care about the people they report on, 59% say the news is inaccurate, 64% see bias, and 53% summarize their view on major media news as, “failing to stand up for America.” In their 2009 poll (29), “just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate.” Gallup’s 2014 poll (30) recorded the lowest ever US public confidence in accurate news reporting from corporate media’s television news: 18%.
A June 2010 Rasmussen poll (31) found 66% of voters “angry” at the media, with 33% “very angry.” Rasmussen also found 70% “angry” at current federal government policies. The most current Gallup poll in 2012 (32) shows Americans’ distrust at an all-time high in the reporting from “mass media — such as newspapers, TV, and radio”: 60% have either “not very much” trust and confidence or “none at all” to “reporting the news fully, accurately, and fairly.”
A possible genesis of oligarchic control of American major media was reported in the US Congressional Record in 1917 (33). US Congressperson Oscar Callaway claimed evidence that J.P. Morgan had purchased editorial control over 25 of the nation’s most influential publications in order to create public support for US entry into World War 1 and his new banking legislative victory: creation of the Federal Reserve system. Mr. Callaway’s colleagues voted down an official investigation.
Related corporate reporting history is summarized and documented in this brief article, “The news media at war (34).”
Note: I make all factual assertions as a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History, with all economics factual claims receiving zero refutation since I began writing in 2008 among Advanced Placement Macroeconomics teachers on our discussion board, public audiences of these articles, and international conferences. I invite readers to empower their civic voices with the strongest comprehensive facts most important to building a brighter future. I challenge professionals, academics, and citizens to add their voices for the benefit of all Earth’s inhabitants.
Carl Herman is a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History; also credentialed in Mathematics. He worked with both US political parties over 18 years and two UN Summits with the citizen’s lobby, RESULTS, for US domestic and foreign policy to end poverty. He can be reached at Carl_Herman@post.harvard.edu