The British government has initiated a criminal inquiry of the potential responsibility of CIA and British intelligence officials for detainee interrogation abuse, says Phillipe Sands in an interview with The American Lawyer posted today.

NOTE: Philippe Sands will visit UCBerkeley on November 18. See calendar in right hand column of this page for details.


Sands, a professor of international law at University College London and author of "Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values," has strongly criticized the Bush administration's use of torture and extraordinary rendition and general flouting of the rule of law. While insisting that he's not calling on the new Obama administration to initiate any immediate criminal investigations or indictments of Bush administration officials, Sands said, "the first thing that needs to happen is establishing the facts. But if the facts are as they appear, then something is going to have to happen to allow the country to move on."

Sands also insists the Obama administration and the new Congress should revoke the The Military Commissions Act of 2006, which "purports to provide immunity for any person associated with criminal wrongdoing in relation to the treatment of detainees. All of these [laws] send out a signal that this administration is willing to tolerate wrongdoing and criminality. That needs to be reversed."

He would also like to see the new president "go into a little more detail and make explicit the U.S.'s reengagement with the rule of law domestically and internationally. The specifics of that mean no more torture, no more rendition, no more unilateral acts that blatantly violate rules and developing timetables for shutting down Guantanamo and ending the 'assault' on the International Criminal Court. [The U.S.] doesn't need to ratify the ICC but they need to stop demonizing it."

Read the full interview here.