Today is Human Rights Day.
Yesterday we got to read a heavily redacted 500+ page report (originally 6000+ pages) by the US Senate Select Committee on Torture carried out by the CIA. Of course, the CIA was not alone in carrying out torture as it was a systemic abuse on a grand scale.
High-ranking US officials have not been investigated, let alone prosecuted due to these criminal acts. However, one former US official is now behind bars, in a roundabout way because of the torture carried out by the US. John Kiriakou is a former CIA analyst and the first official within the US government to expose the use of waterboarding. Kiriakou blew the whistle on waterboarding and confirmed it as an official government policy in a 2007 ABC interview.
Kiriakou is now serving the remainder of a 30 month prison sentence – one of the 8 whistleblowers the Obama administration has prosecuted, more than all the other presidents combined – while Army officers, CIA officers, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and those who presided over the use of torture aren’t investigated and aren’t prosecuted. In the words of President Obama, the US just “tortured some folks”.
As reported by the Guardian, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, Steven W. Hawkins said in a statement: “Under the UN Convention against torture, no exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be invoked to justify torture, and all those responsible for authorising or carrying out torture or other ill-treatment must be fully investigated.” Similarly, Ben Emmerson, UN’s Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights has called for CIA officers and other government officials to be prosecuted.
Meanwhile, Kiriakou serves his time behind bars, symptomatic of an administration that, to use James Risen’s words, normalised Bush’s War on Terror.
Around 50 nations are complicit in the CIA torture program, acting as secret prison facilitators or allowing rendition flights through their aerospace. Iceland belongs to the latter category. Unfortunately, the report does not enlist the names of those countries complicit in these human rights violations but it can be found in the Open Society Foundation’s report from 2013: Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition.