8 Apr. 2008

Bloody Murderers

Don't forget that Australian officials were present at some of these interrogations, and worked closely with US legal teams. From Scott Horton via Atrios:
Haynes had previously authorized the use of the torture techniques, and had secured an order from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld authorizing them.

Following the implementation of these techniques, more than 108 detainees died in detention. In a large number of these cases, the deaths have been ruled a homicide and connected to torture. These homicides were a forseeable consequence of the advice that Haynes and Yoo gave.
John Conyers is now calling Yoo before the US Senate House Judiciary. Did I mention that Australian officials were involved in these interrogations?

In May 2004, the Secretary to the Department of Defence, Ric Smith, and armed forces chief, General Peter Cosgrove, released a joint statement stating that no ADF personnel were aware of “abuse or serious mistreatment” before they became public knowledge in January 2004. A week later they retracted that statement, admitting they were aware of the allegations since at least November 2003. But of course...
Prime Minister John Howard immediately denied any culpability. “I am very unhappy that I was misinformed by the defence department. So is the defence minister,” Howard declared. “Everything that I said was based on the advice of the defence department. I did not set out to mislead anybody.”

When the Abu Ghraib photographs were first published in April, the government claimed to be appalled by the evidence of abuse, and insisted that no-one in Canberra had any idea of the extent and nature of the mistreatment. Howard repeatedly emphasised that no Australians were implicated. “We were not involved,” he declared.

Howard stuck to this claim yesterday, but it has unravelled completely. Leaks from within the defence establishment fuelled a Sydney Morning Herald investigation. It soon emerged that a number of Australian officers were working at the highest levels of the US military legal team in Baghdad, and played a central role in the US prison regime. Australian military lawyers advised US forces on interrogation techniques, and drafted replies to the Red Cross justifying violations of the Geneva Conventions...

Either the government is hopelessly incompetent, or it knew the truth all along. The fact that Howard has expressed his full confidence in Smith and Cosgrove — despite claiming to have been misled by them — suggests that the latter explanation is more likely.

Even if true, Howard’s explanation of the events represents a damning self-indictment. According to his account, the government first learned of the abuse allegations in January, following which it made no attempt to discover the nature of these allegations, or the extent of the torture. No clarification was ever sought from either the US military or the Bush administration, and no attempt was made to obtain a copy of the Red Cross reports. Nor did the government ever ask the Defence department whether any Australians working in the Coalition Provisional Authority were involved in any aspect of the affair. Far from constituting a defense, the government’s account is an admission of criminal negligence...

The Howard government is as culpable for war crimes as is the Bush administration. Howard, Hill and Downer should all be prosecuted for their role in the illegal invasion of Iraq, and the torture of Iraqi detainees.
We need a bloody Royal Commission NOW!!!