News Release

Implications of Torture

RICK SHENKMAN
Editor of the History News Network, Shenkman is author of the just-released book Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter.

He said today: “Despite Watergate, Republicans have never given up their belief in an imperial presidency. If the president does something, it’s not illegal, was Nixon’s line of defense. It might as well be Bush’s and Cheney’s, though they are careful never to admit it publicly. President Bush violated the law numerous times during his presidency without once expressing remorse at having done so. Violate the law by going around the FISA court? No problem. Torture terrorist suspects by waterboarding them? No problem (even as his own attorney general designate opined that torture is illegal under the Constitution as a violation of the 14th Amendment).”

LISA HAJJAR
Hajjar, a professor in the Law and Society Program at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Hajjar said today: “The problem-ridden and illegitimate military commissions at Guantanamo offer one among many examples of the adverse consequences of using torture on prisoners. The fact that the U.S. has adopted a policy of torture is now beyond dispute, as is the fact that hundreds, if not thousands of totally innocent people have been subjected to officially sanctioned torture and abuse. However, supporters of the administration are arguing that if some ‘errors’ were made, they were done with good intentions to benefit American security, and they produced invaluable information. There evidence that any good intelligence was produced through torture; people knowledgeable about the interrogations of KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] and Abu Zubaydah, for example, have said that any information they provided came during non-coercive interrogations. But because they were tortured, the use of this information for their prosecutions becomes problematic. To understand why the U.S. got to this place, it is important to appreciate that Cheney and other top officials were motivated by the goal to roll back the legal constraints on the executive branch instituted in the wake of Watergate, and to repudiate international law as ostensibly ‘unAmerican.’ …

“Torture is a crime. Now is the time for ‘law and order’ types to ‘get tough on crime’ and demand special prosecutors and prosecutions for those who have authorized the illegal policies of torture that have
destroyed America’s reputation and the very institutions responsible for keeping us safe.”

Hajjar is author of the book Courting Conflict and co-editor of Human Rights: Critical Concepts in Political Science.
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167