By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune Political Note
THE DOUBLE STANDARDS
Sat, 2014-11-15 08:47 — editor
By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune Political Note
“We crossed the line” since September 11 attacks; we regrettably did not always live up to our own values, including those reflected in the [UN] Convention [Against Torture] “; “As President Obama has acknowledged, we crossed the line and we take responsibility for that. The United Nations doesn’t buy it.
What amused us was that an official media outlet of a South Asian nation which is currently being harassed by the United States teaming up with those who were once providing ‘material support’ to the now ‘domestically’ defunct separatist/terrorist group Tamil Tigers has bought the U.S. twist.
This media outlet – Daily News – in highlighting ‘We crossed the line’ excuse of the U.S. delegation in Geneva seems to be jubilant that Sri Lanka’s premier ‘harasser’ acknowledged the wrong it committed.
For the UN Human Rights Committee on Torture to summarily dismiss the ‘sugar quoted’ submission of the American delegation, the story lies somewhere else which Sri Lanka’s Daily News should have highlighted for the benefit of those who handle Sri Lanka’s external affairs.
Sri Lanka needs some breathing space to reason out with the sole Super Power – at some point when diplomatic discourses take place – who sits on judgment of the manner in which other nations engage in their governance that it needs to allow nations like Sri Lanka, which had a serious battle with the lethal terrorist movement ending it just five years ago and engaged in rebuilding the lives of all ethnic communities, to manage its affairs which fits its populous.
When this writer was on the staff of the media unit of the American diplomatic mission in Colombo in the 70s decade, the unit monitored all newspapers – English and vernacular – to prepare cables to Washington the host country media reaction to US pronouncements and policy decisions.
Undoubtedly, this unit – in delight – would have highlighted the Daily News headline in its cable to Washington the favorable reaction the state-owned media outlet expressed in its two opening ‘intros’ of the report which gave light reference to the American failure to accountability and justice in the torture regimen it practiced.
On Thursday, 13 November, the State Department assistant secretary for human rights Tom Malinowski declared in Geneva before the committee “Our goal is to move forward, but we know that to avoid falling backward, we must be willing to look backward and to come to terms with what happened in the past.”
Mr. Malinowski’s remark was a twist on a comment President Obama made in January 2009, that when it came to previous C.I.A. practices, “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”
This is not the explanation Sri Lanka needs to buy or consume at a time the United States itself is ‘gunning’ this South Asian nation, in collaboration with the former Tamil Tiger activists within the Tamil Diaspora, on range of issue such as putting the entire culpability of civilian deaths on Sri Lankan armed forces which was engaged with a ruthless terrorist groups which took shelter behind innocent civilians, alleging war crimes (even genocide at the insistence of the activists within the Tamil Diaspora), rule of law and violation of international humanitarian (IHL) and human rights (IHRL) law.
During his 2008 campaign for president, the then senator Obama repeatedly vowed that, while he opposed “partisan witch-hunts”, he would instruct his attorney general to “immediately review” the evidence of criminality in these torture programs because “nobody is above the law.” Yet, almost immediately after winning the 2008 election, Obama, before he was even inaugurated, made clear that he was opposed to any such investigations, citing what he called “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards”.
16 April 2009, Obama himself took the first step in formalizing the full-scale immunity he intended to bestow on all government officials involved even in the most heinous and lethal torture. On that date, he decreed by Executive Order absolute immunity for any official involved in torture provided that it comported with the permission slips produced by Bush department of justice (DOJ) lawyers which authorized certain techniques. “This is a time for reflection, not retribution,” the new president observed in his statement announcing this immunity.
President Obama added:
“[N]othing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past … we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.”
On the same day, Attorney General Eric Holder issued his own statement arguing that “it would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the justice department.”
One media outlet declared: the Obama administration has been desperate to ensure that there will be no accountability or even that meaningful investigations ever take place. That is almost certainly due to the fact that numerous high-level members of Obama’s own party were so complicit in these crimes.
This is the official line the Obama administration has throughout taken to evade America’s culpability of prisoner torture in the name of combating terrorism.
And the latest line that the United States wants other nations to buy – which the UN Human Rights Committee on Torture refused on Wednesday and Thursday – is “We crossed the line” since September 11 attacks; we regrettably did not always live up to our own values, including those reflected in the [UN] Convention [Against Torture] “; “As President Obama has acknowledged, we crossed the line and we take responsibility for that.”
The American officials before UN human rights panel pointed to a criminal investigation by John H. Durham, an assistant United States attorney, whom Michael B. Mukasey, then attorney general, appointed in 2008 to look at whether the C.I.A. had broken the law by destroying videotapes of its interrogations of Qaeda suspects.
In 2009, Obama’s Attorney General Eric H. Holder expanded Mr. Durham’s mandate to look at C.I.A. torture that went beyond what the Justice Department had said was legal. Mr. Durham eventually closed the investigation without indicting anyone.
The U.S. delegation was slammed for touting its 2009 Justice Department Investigation into the CIA’s torture program — which resulted in no charges — as proof of its commitment.
“We are not fully satisfied with that answer,” said UN torture committee Chairman George Tugushi. “In our view, any investigation into possible ill treatment by public officials must comply with the criteria of thoroughness. And actually to be considered credible, it must be capable of leading to a determination of whether force or other methods used were or were not justified under the circumstances, and to the identification of the appropriate punishment of those concerned.”
One member of the U.N. committee suggested the investigation was a whitewash.
The Durham investigation “found that there was not sufficient evidence,” said Jens Modvig. “Well … you won’t find what you’re not looking for.”
The American delegation told the U.N. panel that the anti-torture convention applies to all U.S. territory — including military bases like Guantanamo. But the comments didn’t include “black site” prisons outside the U.S.
It is well know that ‘Black Sites’ are administered by the CIA to interrogate terrorism suspects located in many countries not necessarily in the Middle East.
The U.S. refused to accept that the Convention Against Torture “applies wherever the U.S. has effective control — the standard that would give full effect to the treaty,” said Laura Pitter, senior national security researcher for Human Rights Watch. “The carefully limited language does little to allay concerns that the U.S. is looking for wiggle room in terms of how it applies treaty obligations outside U.S. borders.”
So, this then is the story besides “We crossed the line” since September 11 attacks; we regrettably did not always live up to our own values, including those reflected in the [UN] Convention [Against Torture] “; “As President Obama has acknowledged, we crossed the line and we take responsibility for that.”
– Asian Tribune –