Obama reprieve for CIA illegal

U.N. rapporteur on torture is challenging Barack Obama’s decision to grant CIA torturers a reprieve.

VIENNA (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s decision not to prosecute CIA interrogators who used waterboarding on terrorism suspects amounts to a breach of international law, the U.N. rapporteur on torture said.

“The United States, like all other states that are part of the U.N. convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court,” U.N. special rapporteur Manfred Nowak told the Austrian daily Der Standard.

Nowak did not think Obama would go as far as to seek an amnesty law for affected CIA personnel and therefore U.S. courts could still try torture suspects, he said on Saturday.

Obama has affirmed his unwillingness to prosecute under anti-torture laws CIA personnel who relied in good faith on Bush administration legal opinions issued after the September 11 attacks.

Obama said he had ended harrowing techniques used against detainees by Bush-era CIA personnel, but that U.S. intelligence agents still operated in a dangerous world and had to be confident they could perform their jobs.

Nowak, an Austrian, suggested an investigation by an independent commission before suspects were tried and said it would be important for all victims to receive compensation.

Human rights advocates have attacked Obama’s decision, saying charges were necessary to prevent future abuses and hold people accountable. Some U.S. lawmakers have called for public investigations.

The four memos Obama released approved techniques including waterboarding, week-long sleep deprivation, forced nudity and putting insects in with a tightly confined prisoner.

His administration also said it would try to shield CIA employees from “any international or foreign tribunal” — an immediate challenge to Spain where a judge has threatened to investigate Bush administration officials.

(Reporting by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Robert Woodward)

Author: Idrees Ahmad

I am a Lecturer in Digital Journalism at the University of Stirling and a former research fellow at the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies. I am the author of The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). I write for The Observer, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Al Jazeera, Dissent, The National, VICE News, Huffington Post, In These Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), Adbusters, Guernica, London Review of Books (Blog), The New Arab, Bella Caledonia, Asia Times, IPS News, Medium, Political Insight, The Drouth, Canadian Dimension, Tanqeed, Variant, etc. I have appeared as an on-air analyst on Al Jazeera, the BBC, TRT World, RAI TV, Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon, Alternative Radio with David Barsamian and several Pacifica Radio channels.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: