Saturday, February 21, 2009

Homeland Security Secretary: We did "some not very nice things"

Tom Ridge, first Secretary of Homeland Security has accepted an International Commission of Jurists report criticizing US torture of prisoners. The report states that measures taken by the US and other states
have resulted in human rights violations, including torture, enforced disappearances, secret and arbitrary detentions, and unfair trials. There has been little accountability for these abuses or justice for their victims.


Much damage has been done to the international legal framework in these few short years [since 9/11].
The report is striking for, among other things, the near-total absence of American members, a testament perhaps to the unwillingness of Americans to risk being labelled 'anti-American'.

Striking also is the tepid admission of Tom Ridge. It is powerfully reminiscent of 'admissions' of wrongdoing — or worse — by the United States or Israel. The US (or Israel) has "done some not very nice things" (a popular construction).

For the hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq, or for the innocent victims tortured to death at Abu Ghraib or Bagram (in Afghanistan) or Guantanamo Bay apologies are too little, too late. And worse, President Obama shows little sign of changing US policy apart from removing the glaring eyesore of Guantanamo Bay.

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