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> Amnesty International's Report to the UN, "widespread torture" by the USA?
Victoria Silverw...
post May 3 2006, 11:19 AM
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The news article:

Link

QUOTE
Torture and inhumane treatment are “widespread” in U.S.-run prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq, Cuba and elsewhere despite Washington’s denials, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

In a report for the United Nations’ Committee against Torture, the London-based human rights group also alleged abuses within the U.S. domestic law enforcement system, including use of excessive force by police and degrading conditions of isolation for inmates in high security prisons.

“Evidence continues to emerge of widespread torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees held in U.S. custody,” Amnesty said in its 47-page report.


Amnesty International's press release:

Link


QUOTE
Amnesty International today made public a report detailing its concerns about torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners and detainees both in the US and in US detention sites around the world.

The report has already been sent to members of the UN Committee Against Torture, who will be examining the US compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on 5 and 8 May in Geneva. The Convention against Torture prohibits the use of torture in all circumstances and requires states to take effective legal and other measures to prevent torture and to provide appropriate punishment for those who commit torture.


The full report (long):

Link

To be debated:

Has the United States created a "climate of torture"?

Is the United States in violation of the Convention Against Torture?


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CruisingRam
post May 3 2006, 12:25 PM
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Has the United States created a "climate of torture"?
I would only be able to answer this with a "well, duh" I am afraid, and ashamed, to say. From Rending to lot's of other documented abuses- well, quite frankly, we always kinda have. I mean, why back folks like Noriega, Pinochet, the Shah of Iran and on and on - we just don't do it as overtly has Saddam, but just as much, if not more, Oops, we even backed Saddam, so that blood is on our hands as well!

Is the United States in violation of the Convention Against Torture?

Well, yes. In fact, we are looking into prosecuting the folks that brought some of those secret prisons to light, correct? Makes you wonder how bad it REALLY is, and how little of the tip of the iceburg we can see.
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Bikerdad
post May 3 2006, 07:29 PM
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Has the United States created a "climate of torture"?[/quote]No

Is the United States in violation of the Convention Against Torture?
We're probably in violation of every Treaty, Convention, and agreement we've ever signed, at least in an absolute sense. Are we materially in violation of this one? No.

QUOTE(CruisingRam @ May 3 2006, 07:25 AM)
Well, yes. In fact, we are looking into prosecuting the folks that brought some of those secret prisons to light, correct? Makes you wonder how bad it REALLY is, and how little of the tip of the iceburg we can see.
Ah yes, those "secret prisons" that, thus far, nobody has managed to find, even though two European commissions have looked for them, and dozens of journalists are looking for them.

Amnesty International long ago lost most of its credibility.

btw, here's the members of the Committee in question:
Ms. Essadia BELMIR Morocco
Mr. Alexandre KOVALEV Russian Federation
Mr. Fernando MARIÑO MENENDEZ Spain
Ms. Nora Sveaass Norway
Mr. Xuexian WANG China

They are "independent experts". Well, at least Ms. Seaass probably is independent, and its a good bet that Menendez is, but the rest? Yah, righhhht.
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TedN5
post May 3 2006, 09:23 PM
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Has the United States created a "climate of torture"?

We've been over this before. The evidence is overwhelming to the affirmative. Lawyers in Department of Justice wrote legal opinions redefining torture designed to provide legal protection for those who engaged in it. These same documents were reviewed and approved by the counsel to the President who is now the Attorney General. Rumsfeld approved a list of "interrogation techniques" for use at the Guantanamo prison and actively monitored at least one such interrogation. (Some of the released prisoners have made sworn statements describing torture). The Defense Department directed General Miller to take these same techniques from Cuba to Iraq and "Gitmoize" Iraq interrogations. Prisoner mistreatment, torture, and murder has been widely documented within Iraq and Afghanistan. The CIA rampted up its rendition program and has snatched hundreds of suspects from different countries and delivered them to secret prisons and third countries where torture is common place. First hand accounts of such treatment has been given a Canadian citizen and a German citizen after being tortured released.

Is the United States in violation of the Convention Against Torture?

Of course it is. The Convention and US law clearly prohibit torture. Trying to redefine torture as "as pain so severe that it approaches organ failure" doesn't remove the guilt of the torturers nor those in the chain of command.
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Julian
post May 3 2006, 10:09 PM
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Has the United States created a "climate of torture"?

I wouldn't say they created a climate of torture, no. After all, the parts of the world where prisoners are being allegedly rendered to be allegedly subjected to torture are hardly bastions of ethical behaviour - that's why they are going to Saudi Arabia and Sarajevo and not Paris (Texas ir France).

However, I think that you'd have to deny that torture is taking place to think that the US is not exploiting a climate of torture that already exists in some parts of the world (and in some cultures within it*).

*By this I don't mean "Arab" or "Slavic", I mean subcultures. Just last night I was sitting in the pub talking with some ex-military people about the types of initiation ceremonies that go on in the British forces. Most of them involve stripping newbies naked and forcing them to undergo some kind of physical brutality - the sort likely to leave bruises at best. This is pretty widespread from what I understand, though not (for some reason) in the Air Force.

So, maybe the type of stripping people naked and beating the bejaysus out of them that's been going on in Middle Eastern prisons is some kind of twisted initiation ceremony to make the locals "one of us"? Maybe it just gets lost in translation sour.gif

Is the United States in violation of the Convention Against Torture?
I'd say it probably is, but then if you look at the Amnesty website you'll find that, far from being an anti-American front group, about the only sovereign territories they don't accuse of torture and human rights abuses are Iceland and Swizerland.


QUOTE(Bikerdad @ May 3 2006, 08:29 PM)
We're probably in violation of every Treaty, Convention, and agreement we've ever signed, at least in an absolute sense. 
Are we materially in violation of this one?  No.
*


Unfortunately, Congress has validated many of the treaties, conventions and agreement that you've signed, which means your government is breaking your own laws. Whether they're doing so a little or a lot is not 'material' to this discussion.

QUOTE
Amnesty International long ago lost most of its credibility.

Many people would say the same about the USA under the Bush administration (and others), AND about the UK under Blair (though he's got some catching up to do to beat Thatcher, who sank a ship full of sailors that was outside a warzone and sailing away from it).

QUOTE
Ms. Essadia BELMIR  Morocco
Mr. Alexandre KOVALEV Russian Federation
Mr. Fernando MARIÑO MENENDEZ Spain
Ms. Nora Sveaass Norway
Mr. Xuexian WANG China 

They are "independent experts".  Well, at least Ms. Seaass probably is independent, and its a good bet that Menendez is, but the rest?  Yah, righhhht.


Glad to see that Spaniards are bastions of probity again after being terrorist sympathisers and cowards after the Madrid bombings. And the Swedes are probably pleased as punch to know that it is not possible for them to be corrupt or just wrong. The Moroccans, Russians and Chinese are probably a bit depressed that they are all puppets of their sinister governments, though.

Gee, d'ya generalise much? Or do you just like shooting messengers? Surely it's less important who appointed them or which country they were born in and much more important whether they are saying useful or important things or not? Or, dare I say, the truth? If Saddam himself were to tell you the sky was blue, would he be wrong just because he's a baddie? blink.gif
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Bikerdad
post May 4 2006, 01:48 AM
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QUOTE(Julian @ May 3 2006, 05:09 PM)
Has the United States created a "climate of torture"?

I wouldn't say they created a climate of torture, no. After all, the parts of the world where prisoners are being allegedly rendered to be allegedly subjected to torture are hardly bastions of ethical behaviour - that's why they are going to Saudi Arabia and Sarajevo and not Paris (Texas ir France).

*By this I don't mean "Arab" or "Slavic", I mean subcultures. Just last night I was sitting in the pub talking with some ex-military people about the types of initiation ceremonies that go on in the British forces. Most of them involve stripping newbies naked and forcing them to undergo some kind of physical brutality - the sort likely to leave bruises at best. This is pretty widespread from what I understand, though not (for some reason) in the Air Force.

So, maybe the type of stripping people naked and beating the bejaysus out of them that's been going on in Middle Eastern prisons is some kind of twisted initiation ceremony to make the locals "one of us"? Maybe it just gets lost in translation  sour.gif 
No, it would be an initiation ceremony to make them feel British. devil.gif

QUOTE
Is the United States in violation of the Convention Against Torture?
I'd say it probably is, but then if you look at the Amnesty website you'll find that, far from being an anti-American front group, about the only sovereign territories they don't accuse of torture and human rights abuses are Iceland and Swizerland.
...
Whether they're doing so a little or a lot is not 'material' to this discussion. 
Of course its material. For one thing, I've yet to see anybody initiate damning threads about the horrid torture and human rights abuses of Canada and Norway and New Zealand. Why not? Because this is "America's Debate", or more likely, because nobody here considers the violations alleged by Amnesty by those countries to be "materially relevant"? My guess is everybody posting on this board who has a driver's license has sped on occasion, perhaps even today. So, would you consider it accurate to identify yourself as a scofflaw, a criminal?

QUOTE
QUOTE
Ms. Essadia BELMIR  Morocco
Mr. Alexandre KOVALEV Russian Federation
Mr. Fernando MARIÑO MENENDEZ Spain
Ms. Nora Sveaass Norway
Mr. Xuexian WANG China 

They are "independent experts".  Well, at least Ms. Sveaass probably is independent, and its a good bet that Menendez is, but the rest?  Yah, righhhht.

Glad to see that Spaniards are bastions of probity again after being terrorist sympathisers and cowards after the Madrid bombings.
Terrorist sympathisers? Nah, can't recall ever accusing them of that (save for whatever inane European style affection they may have for the Palestinians), but cowards? Well, there's certainly a case to be made.
QUOTE
And the Swedes ??!!? are probably pleased as punch to know that it is not possible for them to be corrupt or just wrong.
Wrong? Corrupt? I never said a word about either, although its quite possible for the Swedes, or more relevant to this conversation, the Norwegians to be one or both. Since I wasn't raising either issue, but rather the subject of independence, perhaps we can agree on my assessment of the likelihood that the Norwegian is independent?
QUOTE
The Moroccans, Russians and Chinese are probably a bit depressed that they are all puppets of their sinister governments, though.
Well, if they're depressed about it, good for them.

QUOTE
Gee, d'ya generalise much?
Who, me? I'm not the one ignoring the realities of international politics and cultural conditions. If you do think it is more likely for the Norwegian rep to be a stooge of her government than the
Chinese rep, go ahead and say so. If you think it is impossible that any of these reps are stooges, say so. I'm simply making an observation on the relative probability that the representatives on the Commission are actually "independent", as the UN website claims.

QUOTE
Or do you just like shooting messengers?
Messenger? The Commission is the recipient.

QUOTE
Surely it's less important who appointed them or which country they were born in and much more important whether they are saying useful or important things or not? Or, dare I say, the truth?
Interesting that you would separate "useful or important" from "the truth." It is exactly the repeated distinction between the two that is why I am less than impressed with this Amnesty International report. It is very useful to those who oppose America, but is it the truth?

QUOTE
that  If Saddam himself were to tell you the sky was blue, would he be wrong just because he's a baddie? blink.gif
No, but I'd check for myself. Since that isn't possible in this case, I have to simply go with my assessment of the credibility of the messenger. You clearly have no problem with such assessments yourself where the Bush Administration is concerned.

I do not consider Amnesty International to be a sterling objective source, although they are a darned sight better than Bagdad Bob or Pravda. Your assessment of their credibility likely differs from mine. cool.gif
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TedN5
post May 4 2006, 02:54 PM
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I don't have time to discuss it in detail but this article is highly pertinent to this thread.

QUOTE
Moreover, each extended application of this psychological method has produced innovation—an adaptability evident today in the war on terror. Under the command of General Geoffrey Miller, Guantanamo became an ad hoc behavioral laboratory for innovative interrogation techniques that, in sum, perfected the CIA’s psychological paradigm. Moving beyond the agency’s original, generic attack on sensory receptors universal to all humans, Guantanamo’s interrogators intensified the psychological assault by exploiting Arab cultural sensitivities to sexuality, gender identity and fear of dogs. Miller also formed teams of military psychologists to probe each detainee’s phobias. Significantly, after repeated visits to Guantanamo in 2002-2004, the International Committee of the Red Cross described these practices as “an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture.”

With his new Guantanamo methods codified in a top-secret manual, General Miller exported these techniques with a personal visit in September 2003 to Iraq, where the U.S. commander, General Ricardo Sanchez, incorporated them into his orders for aggressive interrogation at Abu Ghraib. Beyond Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the administration has also built a global network for torture at a half-dozen “black sites” worldwide that used these techniques and even more extreme methods, including one particularly cruel CIA technique called “water boarding.”


This post has been edited by TedN5: May 4 2006, 02:54 PM
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Bikerdad
post May 6 2006, 04:38 AM
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For those who may question my assessment that the credibility of Amnesty International has been sliding..., I offer the following excerpt from the Euston Manifesto

The violation of basic human rights standards at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, and by the practice of "rendition", must be roundly condemned for what it is: a departure from universal principles, for the establishment of which the democratic countries themselves, and in particular the United States of America, bear the greater part of the historical credit. But we reject the double standards by which too many on the Left today treat as the worst violations of human rights those perpetrated by the democracies, while being either silent or more muted about infractions that outstrip these by far. This tendency has reached the point that officials speaking for Amnesty International, an organization which commands enormous, worldwide respect because of its invaluable work over several decades, can now make grotesque public comparison of Guantanamo with the Gulag, can assert that the legislative measures taken by the US and other liberal democracies in the War on Terror constitute a greater attack on human rights principles and values than anything we have seen in the last 50 years, and be defended for doing so by certain left and liberal voices.

For those who don't know, here's how the writers of the Manifesto identify themselves:

We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment.

Take note, it is the core contention, fueled and echoed by the AI report, raised in this thread's opening questions with which I disagree. Even these Eustonian Progressives consider AI to be a non-objective organization. ("non-objective" is a very polite way of saying "partisan and biased" mrsparkle.gif )

This post has been edited by Bikerdad: May 6 2006, 04:42 AM
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TedN5
post May 6 2006, 08:52 PM
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Bikerdad, many of us trust Amnesty International far more than our government and most of our media. They have earned our trust over the years. Your attempt to discredit them is another example of going after the messenger rather than dealing substansively with the issues raise in their report. So far as I know, Amnesty never compared Guantanamo with the Soviet gulags. What they did was call American's string of secrete prisons "the gulag of our time." This was a descriptive use of the term "gulag" not an overt comparison. It was probably an unfortunate analogy that opened the organization up to this kind of ridiculous attack but hardly lowers their credibility in my eyes.

I don't want to get into the whole Euston Manifesto thing but you might want to take a look at the Mathew Yglesias Blog.
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Bikerdad
post May 6 2006, 09:46 PM
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QUOTE(TedN5 @ May 6 2006, 03:52 PM)
Bikerdad, many of us trust Amnesty International far more than our government and most of our media.  They have earned our trust over the years.
A point made by the Manifesto, which then proceeds to point out how AI is abusing and/or squandering that trust.

QUOTE
So far as I know, Amnesty never compared Guantanamo with the Soviet gulags.  What they did was call American's string of secrete prisons "the gulag of our time."  This was a descriptive use of the term "gulag" not an overt comparison. It was probably an unfortunate analogy that opened the organization up to this kind of ridiculous attack but hardly lowers their credibility in my eyes.
*

Wow? Describing something as a "gulag" in no way compares it to the Soviet gulags. blink.gif Based on that logic, if I were to describe somebody as a "brownshirt", you would take it to mean that I'm comparing them to the UPS guy, right? thumbsup.gif

The very term "gulag" is rooted absolutely in the murderous Soviet labor camps, and cannot be used without invoking a comparison. It may be a an "unfortunate" analogy, but it is one in a very deliberately written report. You may choose to ignore their choice of words, but I'll simply take them as a face value indication of their perspective....
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TedN5
post May 7 2006, 03:06 AM
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Bikerdad, I wish your standards for credibility for members of the Bush Administration were even remotely as exacting as those you apply to to Amnesty International.

As for the whole gulag thing, we discussed it last fall. Post #19 is one of my contributions.

QUOTE
Torture and prisoner abuse is evil and we should keep our focus on that issue and the conditions such as secret prisons that can enable it. I hate to let you distract the issue into another of your off subject tangents. However, as a final remark on the subject I will point out that my Wesbster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, published in 2001 before any of these issues came up, includes the definition: "3. any prison or detention camp, esp. for political prisoners."
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Ted
post May 9 2006, 12:49 PM
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Has the United States created a "climate of torture"?

NO

Is the United States in violation of the Convention Against Torture?
No and I have seen no proof to the contrary. Certainly the captured terrorists are going to claim they were “tortured” regularly. With the exception of un authorized (criminal) behavior this is just not the case.

This post has been edited by Ted: May 9 2006, 12:49 PM
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