Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Perpetrators Rule

Whew, am I ever relieved. I used to think that US POWs were tortured in Vietnam, that Pinochet's government inflicted horrific tortures on dissidents, and even that Saddam Hussein operated torture chambers in Iraq. Silly me, actually the stories and reports of torture in these places were probably just made up by the "alleged" victims. In fact, I'll bet US POWs in Vietnam sat together and concocted all those stories about rope torture and beatings as part of a big propaganda campaign.

I'm basing my new conclusions on what I'll call the Michele Norris Standard: if the torturers are not interviewed and don't corroborate the allegations of the supposed victims, then it's nothing but hearsay. Don't take it from me. Let's hear Michele as she interviews Mark Danner who has published the full ICRC report on US torture of ghost detainees :
"Now we should say that the allegations in this report are based on interviews with these fourteen detainees. Has the information been confirmed or corroborated by the people who allegedly participated in these sessions?"
Danner reminds Norris that the conclusions were "based on lengthy interviews conducted by Red Cross professionals" and that the similarities and details of torture would have been impossible to concoct since the fourteen detainees were never together and were always isolated - to which Norris responds,
"Though because they have not actually interviewed or do not include in this report information from either the health professionals or others that participated in the CIA interrogations is that potentially problematic in terms of the credibility of the report?"
It is truly mind boggling, but Michele is not done. From trying to discount the Red Cross report, Norris moves on to shred the rule of law. Now that there is overwhelming evidence of torture from the highest levels of the US government down to CIA operatives the law is very clear. No one states it better than Glenn Greenwald:

"The U.S. really has bound itself to a treaty called the Convention Against Torture, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988 and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1994. When there are credible allegations that government officials have participated or been complicit in torture, that Convention really does compel all signatories -- in language as clear as can be devised -- to "submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution" (Art. 7(1)). And the treaty explicitly bars the standard excuses that America's political class is currently offering for refusing to investigate and prosecute: "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" and "an order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture" (Art. 2 (2-3)). By definition, then, the far less compelling excuses cited by Conason (a criminal probe would undermine bipartisanship and distract us from more important matters) are plainly barred as grounds for evading the Convention's obligations."
Norris doesn't see it this way. She states, "The findings in the report point to a very thorny question and that is, 'What happens to the people who participated in these interrogations or who helped develop the policy that led to the conditions that have now been described as inhumane. The question of whether they should be subject to justice or adjudication or some sort of punishment..."

Unfortunately, Danner is not a Constitutional law expert and so goes along with Norris, claiming that, "the question of what should be done is a very complicated one...it's very complicated because the responsibility for this is very widespread in the former administration...have an authoritative account of what was done and what was gained if anything...yield from this stuff was very, very meager..."

Actually what should be done, is not complicated at all; what is complicated is what will be done, since the Obama justice department seems as hostile as the Bush administration when it comes to upholding the rule of law regarding the US practice of torturing detainees.


Hubertg said...

It is only appropriate that the Red Cross assist in torture to avoid loss of life. We would be remiss in our moral mission of peace, and goodwill for all of mankind, if we did not make every effort to save the lives of those we torture.

Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...

The US Army Medical Corps' motto is "To Preserve Fighting Strength." Perhaps a fitting motto for the medical personnel who participated in war crimes should be "To Preserve Torturing Strength."

Speaking of torture, Michele Norris' interview violated my ears in nearly criminal ways.

Near the end of the interview, she accuses her guest of political motivations to boot.

Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...


Well said. Something else the Norris OBVIOUSLY doesn't understand is the way in which social science research is gathered. CLEARLY, the scientific method was used to gather facts from torture victims, in such a manner as to deduce the facts of what happened to these victims. The chances of them all reporting the EXACT details are astronomical, yet Norris wants ACTUAL proof from the criminals regarding their heinous crimes?

Perhaps, by Norris' estimation, we could get the definitive information from the torturers if we subjected them to the same means they used? Would that be convincing without-a-doubt evidence for Norris? I wonder!


Anonymous said...

The Michelle Norris standard: "if the torturers are not interviewed and don't corroborate the allegations of the supposed victims, then it's nothing but hearsay."

I believe the Norris' standard is simply another version of the "Gold Standard for Interviewing Torture Victims" (established by Anne Garrels, NPR's, resident expert on interviewing torture victims):

"Everything a torture victim/interviewee says shall be construed as gospel truth if the torturers are in the same room with you and the torturee when said story is related and if said torturers corroborate the story of said torturee (or at least do not object to what said torturee said)".

Anonymous said...

"the Obama justice department seems as hostile as the Bush administration when it comes to upholding the rule of law regarding the US practice of torturing detainees."

actually, whether they are hostile or not is irrelevant.

And allow me if you will to point out the obvious here: by "not "upholding" the laws and treaties of the United States, the Obama administration is BREAKING those laws and treaties as well as violating the US Constitution (so Obama is also violating his sworn Presidential oath of office)

Fancy that, a President breaking/subverting the law (on the tortue issue and others, including the Summers/geithner plan to deal with "toxic" bank assets: http://www.cnbc.com/id/29863145 )

Anonymous said...

If i belived it held any sway, I would say "imepach Obama" unless he starts faithfully executing the laws as he swore to do.

But if Bush was not impeached for torture and Clinton WAS for lying about consensual sex, I am under no delusions that members of Congress will ever hold any President accountable for any substantive violation of his oath of office.

And PPS: make no mistake: The Obama/Summers/geithner plan to give 1 trillion of better to the banks that already have defrauded the American public to the tune of trillions is in itself FRAUD and sufficent cause to impeach Obama.

But members of Congress (including Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, head of the Senate banking committee) are supporting the Obama/Summers/geithner plan, so we know that will get precisely ZERO traction.


Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

That miserable slag Meeee-Shill Norris is an embarrassment.

I frightened the dog while I was screaming imprecations in her direction as I listened to her 'report.'

But it seems she's on-board with the Garrells protocols...

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, to any who actually are gullible enough to believe that the Obama/summers/geithner plan to deal with banks breaks no laws, you may want to listen to what William Black (a bank fraud expert who "cleaned up Dodge" after the S&L scandal of the 80s) says in the Bill Moyers interview (also linked to above) and think again.

transcript from the interview
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, certainly in the financial sphere, I am. I think, first, the policies are substantively bad. Second, I think they completely lack integrity. Third, they violate the rule of law. This is being done just like Secretary Paulson did it. In violation of the law. We adopted a law after the Savings and Loan crisis, called the Prompt Corrective Action Law. And it requires them to close these institutions. And they're refusing to obey the law.

BILL MOYERS: In other words, they could have closed these banks without nationalizing them?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, you do a receivership. No one -- Ronald Reagan did receiverships. Nobody called it nationalization.

BILL MOYERS: And that's a law?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: That's the law.

BILL MOYERS: So, Paulson could have done this? Geithner could do this?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Not could. Was mandated-

BILL MOYERS: By the law.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: By the law.

William K. Black on The Prompt Corrective Action Law

The Prompt Corrective Action Law: Section 1831


You may also want to read what Black says in “Why is Geithner Continuing Paulson’s Policy of Violating the Law?” (February 23, 2009).

Anonymous said...

The thing that convinced me that Michelle Norris had ZERO credibility was her "interview' of Alberto Gonzales right after the Bush program's warrantless (read: illegal) domestic spying was exposed.

Norris essentially allowed Gonzales to recite a "This I believe" spiel on air.

It may have been the most disgusting piece of "journalism' that i have ever witnessed (and after the past 8 years or so, that's saying a lot)

Porter Melmoth said...

Here's another side to perhaps consider. I have a feeling that the interview in question is an example of MeeShill's personal ax to grind, so to speak. I can imagine that, after having tasted the Bigger Time (i.e. network news), she's bitter about getting washed up onto the NPR shore. There's more than a bit of 'I could have been a contender' to her personality. Perhaps aspiring to being the next Katie Couric (as in anchoring on TV), but she may have been screwed out of flying higher, or else it was due to her own incompetence (!). In any case, there's something sour about her manufactured coolness.

I'm not seeking explanations. It's just an example of NPR personalities inflicting themselves on the audience. Garrels is indeed a gold standard as far as sheer ego projection is concerned.

Anonymous said...

"she's bitter about getting washed up onto the NPR shore."

You mean Meeeeshell is unhappy about selling seashells by the seashore?

Porter Melmoth said...

Yup, because said shore is polluted with all sorts of toxic techniques. There ain't much glory in trotting obediently behind Blob's slobberings. So why not take it out on interviewees?

But a gig's a gig. Perhaps she's plotting a comeback - or revenge!

Anonymous said...

But a gig's a gig.

A very well paying one at that.

Meeeshell gets over 200K per year for her "gig".

...something that most people (including myself, a lowly computer programmer) can only dream about (when we are employed)

That's what ticks me off more than anything else about NPR.

These announcers get paid exwhorbitant amounts (IMHO) with money that comes (indirectly, at least) from my pocket to spew (24/7) what amounts to propaganda over the public airwaves.

If that ain't a crime, I don't know what is (Bernie Madoff is a piker, in comparison, again IMHO)

no!bunny!wuv!4!MeeeShill! said...

Hey, I like that!

(this is only a test!)

gosh!darn!it! said...

Try again?...

Flim-blim bim-bim-bim flim-blim bim-bim-bim

gopol said...

Perhaps she's plotting a comeback - or revenge!

Has anybody checked if she's Chuck's brother. Could be vengeance is a congenital condition.

Porter Melmoth said...

In a more perfect world, I'd be thrilled to have Jack Nance (in Henry Spencer guise)as newsreader/interpreter extraordinaire.

flim!blim!flim!blim! said...

Or Kurt Schwitters for that matter, Port! Would sure be scores more informative than that of the target of our discussions here!

Anonymous said...

Woody said: "I frightened the dog while I was screaming imprecations in her [Michelle Norris'] direction as I listened to her 'report.'"

You sure it wasn't Michelle that actually frightened your dog?

The reason I ask is this: my grandfather used to have a dairy farm that I visited when I was a kid and the dogs were constantly barking at the horses...

God knows Michelle's voice is pretty damned horse.

Mytwords said...

In the spirit of the surreal and the tortured here's What the President Will Say and Do" by Jaap Blonk.

bunny!folds! said...

Omibunnygosh, Myt! Point and raise!