Can Holder Ignore the Red Cross Report? Can Obama? Updated

From the Wasington Post

The International Committee of the Red Cross concluded in a secret report that the Bush administration’s treatment of al-Qaeda captives “constituted torture,” a finding that strongly implied that CIA interrogation methods violated international law, according to newly published excerpts from the long-concealed 2007 document.

Well first, isn’t that a bit paradoxical, WaPo? Torture DOES violate international law. Period. So since (no longer if after this report) The Bush Torture Program did torture, the report doesn’t “imply” that international laws against torture were broken……it says so.

For more information on the report, see Valtin’s article Leaked! International Red Cross Report on CIA Torture, and the original article US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites By Mark Danner/

But here is the crux of the issue, as far as justice for those in the Bush Administration who ordered the torture….and for those who are currently responsible under the law to pursue that legal justice.

“It could not be more important that the ICRC explicitly uses the words ‘torture’ and ‘cruel and degrading,’ ” Danner said in a telephone interview. “The ICRC is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, and when it uses those words, they have the force of law.”

He discounted the possibility that the detainees fabricated or embellished their stories, noting that the accounts overlap “in minute detail,” even though the detainees were kept in isolation at different locations.

Let us repeat that.

“The ICRC is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, and when it uses those words, they have the force of law.”

Update* The ICRC the most authoritative of the international agencies that inspect and determine whether abuses of the Conventions have occurred. That is why governments allow them to monitor it. They are required by the Conventions, which are legally binding to the signatories, to allow them to monitor and determine whether torture or other abuses have occurred.

It has determined torture has occurred.

Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts.

That would be Attorney General Holder. He is obliged, under the Geneva Convention to bring torturers before the courts

The ICRC is the entity that determines if torture has occurred.

Now, the ICRC has determined that torture has occurred.

The ICRC has alleged in this report, according to their role, that torture has occurred.

Which means that the The Bush Torture Program did officially violated international laws against torture and has officially violated the Geneva Convention.

Let’s pound that nail home for Attorney General Holder. The United States Government officially tortured, according to the agency that officially determines whether torture has or has not occurred. Torture is officially illegal, officially a crime, officially a Geneva Convention violation, which we are officially obligated to uphold by the Constitution. The Attorney General of the United States is officially obligated to investigate and prosecute crimes.

Can the Attorney General then ignore this official report?

Can the President allow the Attorney General to do so?

And then the final question. At what point does ignoring an official report of torture become being an accessory to torture by “covering it up” through not investigating and prosecuting based on an official report?

* The evidence and reports continue to mount. So far the DOJ, to all appearances, has ignored these reports and evidence. Now there is an allegation of torture by the very agency that is tasked with that function. Will this too be ignored?

At what point does legal inaction ….become illegal complicity?

Mr. Holder?


Skip to comment form

  1. Photobucket

  2. Gibbs at the daily briefing was just asked to respond to the Red Cross report.

    Gives a stunning non-answer, the President is changing these policies….or something, mumble mumble moving on.

    WTF? Is that the official response?


    He was also asked to respond to Cheney saying that Obama is making us less safe….

    He replied that apparently Rush was busy, so they had to trot out Cheney!

    On follow up….Bush did not capture bin Laden.

    All paraphrased, of course.

  3. Between ignoring torture and war crimes and funding the Wall Street bail cash out, Obama seems hell bent on proving the skeptics right.

  4. each day brings more and more revelations about what has transpiredin our names, and, I think, it is and will come to a “head.”  As we see, there is increased International “pressure” almost daily.

    LTE’s on this would be good, with a What You Can Do (and steps listed).


  5. The ICRC is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, and when it uses those words, they have the force of law.

    What is the source of this authority?  The ICRC is named in the Geneva Conventions, but in neither a prosecutorial or judicial role.  Their own website lists their protocols of International Humanitarian Law with the caveat:

    These rules, drawn up by the ICRC, summarize the essence of international humanitarian law.  They do not have the authority of a legal instrument and in no way seek to replace the treaties in force.

    Further on their site, the ICRC defines its roles as:

    The ICRC’s role in the development of

    humanitarian law is to:

    – monitor the changing nature of armed conflict;

    – organize consultations with a view to

    ascertaining the possibility of reaching

    agreement on new rules;

    – prepare draft texts for submission to

    diplomatic conferences.

    So, unless the ICRC’s website is unfamiliar with their own powers and responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions, that quote is simply incorrect about the authority which any statement, report, or conclusion by the ICRC holds.

    I’m not saying that is a good thing.  But I am saying that there seems to me no reason to believe that the ICRC’s conclusions hold any legal authority at all.

    • Edger on March 16, 2009 at 22:04

    I would also ask  a couple of other questions… in light of the fact that Obama enjoys what I believe are record high public approval ratings (or at least very high). Higher even than George Bush enjoyed from the right for most of his first term… while pursuing identical policies.

    At what point does inaction of any kind, even calling Obama out publicly or approving of his administrations actions on these “issues” (and I hesitate to call torture an “issue”)… become complicity?

    If Obama is guilty of complicity, what does that say about his “approvers”?

  6. to think/type with a lot of distractions here, sorry.

    This is great, but I am worried about a few things with all this. I read some of the reader’s comments in the WaPo story.

    45,000 signers on your Petition is great, but we need more. How are we going to get morepeople on board with us? Holder and Obama will not listen to this little whisper.

    I can imagine that a lot of people will see THIS Danner story and say, well, yeah but those were THE Bad Guys, the guys who really were responsible for attacking us and murdering our citizens, so yeah, string ’em up. (People in general I mean, not progressives of course.)

    I think its important to stress certain aspects, angles of this.

    (1) “Guilty” or “not guilty” isnt the issue here. They were never charged, no habeus corpus, no Rule of Law. SO how do we know if they were guilty or not, and people were (are) detained and tortured, guilty and innocent alike. AND, if guilty, we’ve foresaken (sabotaged) the legal opportunity to actually bring them to justice since any “confession” is shit… if procured illegally like this. So, we lose, & we lose… on all counts.

    (2) One of the most important points of this Danner ICRC piece is that it shows … it was a deliberate and methodical program that was designed and developed with full knowledge, and under the directive actually, of TPTB. They were conducting an “experiment” to determine ways to do this without leaving a trace, with impunity. They KNEW it was wrong, immoral, and ILLEGAL, and they went to great lengths to make sure they figured ways around that.

    (3) Did anybody ever get any “actionable intelligence” as a result of these early black sites?

  7. As always, I highly value your input!

  8. Would that we were so forthright and forceful — see this video:  a Canadian lawyer speaks with Keith Olbermann.  

    Will Canada Arrest George W Bush For Torture?

  9. is about 42:00 long and online now here

Comments have been disabled.