Thursday, December 29, 2005

British Torture Memos Published?

The Daily Kos claims to be republishing some British "torture memos" (not to be confused with the Al Jazeera Memos referenced by the banner on the right). Unfortunately, the source of these documents has already been pulled offline, presumably by Her Majesty's Government.

These documents appear to say in black and white what anyone who has been paying attention has known there was good reason to believe since day one of this story. The USA and Britain have been avid consumers of "intelligence" they knew full well was derived from confessions produced in Uzbekistan under torture.

We've long known that Uzbekistan tortures its prisoners. We've long known that the USA and Britain have been "rendering" people into the tender mercies of Uzbekistani prison wardens. These facts have been beyond reasonable dispute for years. Years! All these documents do is show that the USA and Britain have known that specific intelligence was derived from confessions produced by specific acts of torture and they continued deliberately to look the other way while feeding more prisoners to the torturers.

If these documents are authentic (and I, personally, find that claim pretty credible), then these are evidence of violations of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Now, it should be remembered that the USA ratified this treaty but it took a "reservation" against the definition of torture in Article 16, because it insisted on using the broader prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment" in Amendment VIII of the U.S. Constitution. Nevertheless, the U.S. State Department is on record describing the treatment of prisoners in Uzbekistan as torture.

Isn't it about time the USA and Britain come clean and denounce the Convention Against Torture under the terms of its Article 31? If they did that, at least their credibility in signing treaties wouldn't be irreparably damaged. They'd still be monsters on the world stage, but at least they would be monsters with which you can negotiate a peace treaty.

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