American Civil Liberties Union – 2004-05-18 09:15:09
Recent news headlines have offered a deeply disturbing view of the US government’s system of detentions and interrogations in Iraq. Although much of the outrage has focused on actions taken by individual soldiers, officers at high levels authorized policies that may violate the Geneva Conventions and plainly played a role in encouraging the even-more serious abuses depicted in the photographs.
These recent events also highlight deliberate efforts, approved by the Attorney General, the White House counsel and in some cases by President Bush himself, designed to shield treatment of detainees from the safeguards provided by international law, including the Geneva Conventions, and from any scrutiny by United States or other courts.
Acts Count as Torture under US Law
These actions appear to meet the definition of torture under both international law and the United States criminal code — and demonstrate the Bush Administration’s continued disregard for international standards of conduct and for checks and balances.
President Bush must act and ensure that American detention policies are in line with international law and American values.
These abuses are not merely the depraved actions of a few poorly trained soldiers who were inadequately supervised. Rather, the abuses are a predictable result of detention policies pursued by the Bush Administration that do not honor the rule of law or American values.
Our nation’s apology to the Iraqi detainees, their families, and the nations of the world will ring hollow if it is not accompanied by a clear break with these detention policies, and all members of the Bush Administration must commit to reform of these detention policies.
These atrocities indicate the need for reform at all levels of American detention policy.
If the United States is sincere, it will not only conduct this investigation in a transparent manner, it will open to outside scrutiny the treatment, including interrogation techniques, of all war prisoners, whatever their status as prisoners of war, unlawful combatants or some other status.
It is imperative that President Bush takes steps to ensure that the rule of law is respected at home and abroad.
The Bush Administration has indicated its willingness to violate international law by detaining individuals without charge or means of proving their innocence. The abuses in Iraq are only one example of the implications of such flawed policies.
By enacting measures to reform these flawed policies, President Bush can show that these violations do not represent the values of the American people as a whole.
What You Can Do
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