Curt Wechsler, The World Can't Wait: June 2015 Archives

ACLU's Jamil Dakwar marks the date with a call for independent criminal investigation of the U.S. torture program:

..100 organizations from around the world delivered a statement [Wednesday] to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva calling for accountability for the CIA torture program and reparations to its victims. In September the council will adopt a report on the United States' human rights record as part of the Universal Periodic Review process. The statement urges the council to demand that the United States "take measures to meet the full spectrum of its obligations under international law to ensure accountability, transparency, reparations and non-repetition, including declassification of the full Senate report on the CIA detention program, independent comprehensive criminal investigation, and the issuing of apologies and compensation to victims."

see Accountability for CIA Torture

No Human Right to War

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Instead of arguing for alternatives that might not involve military force, U.S. humanitarian lawyers discuss the appropriate degree of transparency and the legal procedure for lethal violence. Those issues aren't negligible but they are secondary to considerations of prudence and morality, first-order questions that legalistic approaches to warfare obscure...

Short Cut to Assassination by Drone

photo: Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, former director of Harvard's Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy and self-described "genocide chick" for advocating military intervention in Libya and Syria.

Senate Votes on Torture

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"Perhaps the [prohibition on torture] amendment would be unnecessary if Obama would've pursued criminal charges against the architects of the torture program, as an international treaty signed by Ronald Reagan and ratified by the U.S. Senate required him to do." -- Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic



The alleged Al Qaeda operative (it turns out that he wasn't even a member) lost his left eye while in CIA custody, sometime between 2002 and 2006. As of today he has suffered the Guantanamo torture camp for eight years nine months.   

His attorney Brent Mickum says "there is absolutely no question that on the night he was captured he had two completely functional eyes.'' A CIA spokesman claims a pre-existing condition caused the eye to "disintegrate" on its own. But eighty-three waterboardings (Zubaydah was the first suspect officially subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques") didn't help.

John Yoo's 2003 memo determined that to put out or destroy an eye could be legal as long as no specific intent to cause the prisoner severe pain could be proved. "It is an unconscionable document" says law professor Dawn Johnsen. 

CIA videotapes of Zubaydah's interrogation were destroyed. But the physician from Johns Hopkins University who treated Abu Zubaydah could shed some light on what happened.

A new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine today explores the dynamics of lawyer/physician collaboration in torture, and the mutual culpability the professions share:

Medical professionals, primarily private contractors, filled four basic roles at the black sites: clearing terrorist suspects as "medically fit" for torture; monitoring torture to prevent death and treat injuries; developing novel torture methods; and actually torturing prisoners. All these actions were taken only after CIA and U.S. Department of Justice attorneys assured the medical professionals that they had immunity from prosecution and would not be held legally responsible for violating U.S. and international law against torture as long as they used the techniques approved in legal memos (since withdrawn) written to justify their actions. Lawyers agreed to provide immunity assurances that specific torture techniques were legal "enhanced interrogation" methods only if the physicians assured them that they would be present to prevent permanent harm to prisoners.

The report concludes that the question raised by the the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's report on torture of whether torture "works"  -- like whether slavery "works" -- is simply the wrong question, and admonishes all parties to observe ethical practice.

UC Berkeley professor Stuart Russell warns that automated weapons systems "could violate fundamental principles of human dignity by allowing machines to choose whom to kill," and calls on his colleagues to take a stand -- in a recent op-ed piece for the science journal Nature.

"It's a very easy step to go from remotely piloted drones to fully autonomous weapons," Russell says. "The AI [artificial intelligence] community may be too late. We might decide that we don't like our technology being used to kill people, but we may not have a say in it."

see Beyond drone warfare

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Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo

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