Friday, 15 February 2008

Bush: guilty defendants' fair trial

'He [U.S. President George W. Bush] said: "There's some people there that need to be tried. And there will be a trial. And they'll have their day in court. Unlike what they did to other people.' So, not everybody interned needs to be tried. The people who need to be tried, will be. The people who will be tried are the guilty ones (those who 'did [things] to other people'), but they don't need to be tried, because we already know they're guilty. And the people who aren't guilty don't need to be tried, but they will remain interned. All clear now? (I'm afraid I can't help anyone parse "fair trial" from "show trial".)

As for the evidence to be used to prove the defendants' guilt, it will be the kind derived from techniques that are not torturous, but inhuman. We know US interrogation techniques involve cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that is like torture(1), because, as Private Eye (No. 1203, 7) observed,
hooding and [stress-positioned] wall-standing [and noise, sleep deprivation and food and drink deprivation causing 'intense physical and mental suffering' and 'acute psychiatric disturbances'] were banned [in the UK] 30 years ago after use by the [British] army in the early 1970s [also against suspected terrorists]. The techniques were declared to be "cruel and inhumane treatment" by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in the Ireland v UK (1978) case.
Furthermore, U.S. interrogation involves "waterboarding" - forced partial drowning - and 'Stephen Bradbury, head of the [U.S.] justice department's office of legal counsel... said: "Let me be clear, though: There has been no determination by the justice department that the use of waterboarding, under any circumstances, would be lawful under current law."'

The final word is Private Eye's:
And just where did the Americans get the idea for these techniques they say are "not torture"? According to the legal advice given in the infamous "torture memo" on standards of conduct for interrogation, dated 1 August 2002, from assistant US attorney-general Jay S. Bybee [actually, John Yoo] to attorney-general Alberto Gonzales and agreed by President George Bush, it was... from the ECHR decision in Ireland v UK!
  1. Saying it is "like torture" is an important and intriguing caveat, because the 1984 United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment defines torture as
    any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.
    It is difficult to differentiate between torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, but, according to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the ECHR parsed the acts thus:
    (i) Torture: deliberate inhuman treatment causing very serious and cruel suffering;
    (ii) Inhuman treatment: treatment that causes intense physical and mental suffering;
    (iii) Degrading treatment: treatment that arouses in the victim a feeling of fear, anguish and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing the victim and possibly breaking their physical or moral resistance.
    So, because the interrogation techniques "only" cause "intense suffering", rather than "very serious suffering", they do not constitute torture.

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