Friday, June 24, 2005

U.S. Admits To Torture?

This report from Agence France Press suggests that the U.S. has broken new ground in admitting to torture when it filed its report to the Committee Against Torture, a report that is required by the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Here is the triumphant reaction by UN officials:

'They are no longer trying to duck this and have respected their obligation to inform the UN,' the Committee member said. 'They they will have to explain themselves (to the Committee). Nothing should be kept in the dark,' he said.

I'm not so sure this is a big deal. The report, which is posted here, is filed because, well, the U.S. is obligated to file them and has been doing so since 2000. Moreover, it sticks to the U.S. policy that President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld keep repeating, but that none of their critics seem to believe. Here is the bottom line from the U.S. report:

The United States is aware of allegations that detainees held in U.S. custody pursuant to the global war on terrorism have been subject to torture or other mistreatment. The President of the United States, as noted above, has clearly stated that torture is prohibited. When allegations of torture or other unlawful treatment arise, they are investigated and, if substantiated, prosecuted. These issues are addressed in detail in this report and its annexes with a view to conveying the seriousness of the commitment of the United States
on these issues.

The actual acknowledgments about Guantanamo, Iraq, etc. are contained in Annex 1 to the Report. But there is no news here. All the report does is summarize the results of U.S. investigations into abuse in Guantanamo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. These investigations have already been made public (and have already been rejected by many critics of the U.S. administration). There are no new admissions, as far as I can tell, and there is no departure from U.S. policy here.

So, all we have here are some anonymous U.N. officials in Geneva blowing some smoke to puff up their organization's importance. Big surprise...


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