Why the US is an outlaw state

The US stands condemned in the world of public opinion as being led by war criminals and condoners of war crimes and a nation that practices the most disgusting forms of torture. You can be sure that we still haven’t been told the worst of it, since the full report has not been released and neither have the videos of the force-feeding of Guantanamo detainees.

There will be immense efforts to try and obfuscate the issue by the torturers and their aplogists. We have to be clear that there is absolutely no legal wiggle room to argue that what was done was not torture nor to escape prosecution for torture. The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is unambiguous. Here is the definition of torture in Article 1, Section 1:

For the purposes of this Convention, torture means 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 does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

There is no doubt that what was done by the CIA is torture, however much the head of the CIA, the Senate report, and their lackeys in the media shy away from using that word and replace it with euphemisms like ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’.

Furthermore, the convention is also clear that there are no extenuating circumstances (such as the very popular ‘ticking time bomb’ scenario) that can be used to justify torture. Article 2 states:

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

This convention has been ratified by 156 states. President Ronald Reagan signed it on behalf of the US in April 1988 and the US Congress ratified it in October 1994. The US State Department, on its official website, is unequivocal about what ratifying this convention implies.

Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States. It is categorically denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of state authority. Every act constituting torture under the Convention constitutes a criminal offence under the law of the United States. No official of the Government, federal, state or local, civilian or military, is authorized to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit torture. Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form. No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture. United States law contains no provision permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent circumstances (for example, during a “state of public emergency”) or on orders from a superior officer or public authority, and the protective mechanisms of an independent judiciary are not subject to suspension.

It should be no surprise that although president Obama is willing to flout the law in order to shield torturers, there are increasing calls nationally and internationally for actions to be taken to prosecute those who did these things.

The UN, human rights activists and legal experts have renewed calls for the Obama administration to prosecute US officials responsible for the CIA torture programme revealed in extensive detail following the release of a damning report by the Senate intelligence committee.

The report, released on Tuesday, found the CIA misled the White House, the Justice Department, Congress and the public over a torture programme that was both ineffective and more brutal than the agency disclosed.

“Today’s release once again makes crystal clear that the US government used torture. Torture is a crime and those responsible for crimes must be brought to justice,” Amnesty International USA’s executive director, Steven W Hawkins, said in a statement.

“Under the UN convention against torture, no exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be invoked to justify torture, and all those responsible for authorising or carrying out torture or other ill-treatment must be fully investigated.”

In Geneva, the United Nations’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, said CIA officers and other US government officials should be prosecuted.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US government provides no excuse whatsoever,” Emmerson said in a statement.

Kenneth Roth, head of Human Rights Watch, says that torturers must be prosecuted. Similar calls have emanated from other civil rights organizations that the chief architects of the torture programs be prosecuted.

But since the US stands convicted of being a torture-condoning nation because of president Obama’s refusal to take any action, it is hoped that international courts be used and indictments issued so that all of these criminals (Bush, Cheney, Hayden, Tenet, Brennan, Yoo, Addington, Bybee, Rumsfeld, and the rest of the gang) risk arrest if they travel outside the US.


  1. says

    The US illegally invaded two foreign nations under the pretext of arresting criminals. If anyone were to suggest doing the same to the US, invading and arresting the US’s criminals, people would call that an act of war or terrorism.

    “[I]t is hoped that international courts be used and indictments issued so that all of these criminals (Bush, Cheney, Hayden, Tenet, Brennan, Yoo, Addington, Bybee, Rumsfeld, and the rest of the gang) risk arrest if they travel outside the US.”

    “Might makes right”? No, might makes doing right impossible. The US’s military strength prevents any justice, much like any thug in any neighborhood who terrorizes his neighbors.

    But just like any thug or bully, eventually he weakens or someone more powerful comes along. The US is throwing away its technological and econmic edge, so that’s an inevitability.

  2. aashiq says

    The “force feeding” included anal rape. CIA operatives stuck tubes inside the anuses of prisoners and “fed” them pureed food.

    We treated the Nazis like human beings, they were subjected to trials at Nuremberg. The only reason we can justify …and try and get away from….this behavior is because the victims are Muslims. And, Muslims are savages as we all know.

  3. says

    The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is unambiguous. Here is the definition of torture in Article 1, Section 1:

    What’s interesting, that most people don’t realize, is that it’s just plain against US law.
    18 U.S. Code Chapter 113C -- TORTURE

    (a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
    (b) Jurisdiction.— There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if—
    (1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
    (2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
    (c) Conspiracy.— A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.

    Pretty much any district attorney in the US ought to be able to indict Cheney, Bush, etc under USC18. In Texas, where they like their capital punishment, torturers might face execution.


    (1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
    (2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
    (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
    (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
    (C) the threat of imminent death; or
    (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and

    Obama’s drone killings are also illegal under USC18:
    18 U.S. Code § 2441 -- War crimes

    (c) Definition.— As used in this section the term “war crime” means any conduct—
    (1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;
    (2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;
    (3) which constitutes a grave breach of common Article 3 (as defined in subsection (d)) when committed in the context of and in association with an armed conflict not of an international character; or
    (4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.

    This is worth noting (Art 3)
    Art. 3.

    The armed forces of the belligerent parties may consist of combatants and non-combatants. In the case of capture by the enemy, both have a right to be treated as prisoners of war.

    drone “double taps” probably fall under #4. But Art 25 of the Hague convention is the one every president has violated since the WW1:
    Art. 25.

    The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited.

    Under USC 18, violations of Article 25 that result in civilian deaths are a capital crime

  4. says

    I don’t believe there is a statue of limitations for capital offenses. Seriously, if I ever retire, I may move to Austin and run for District Attorney, then indict Kissinger, Bush, Cheney, Obama…

  5. says

    Let me repeat myself: those are not just international laws. They are US law. It seems like every time I post these, someone says “but the US isn’t signatory to international laws”
    Yes, yes, it fucking is.

  6. dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!" says

    Don’t worry, on the off chance that the ICC ever get their hands on any of these thugs we’ve got a plan to get them back:

    ASPA authorizes the U.S. president to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court”. This authorization has led the act to be nicknamed The Hague Invasion Act, because the freeing of U.S. citizens by force might be possible only through an invasion of The Hague, Netherlands, the seat of several international criminal courts and of the Dutch government.


  7. says

    on the off chance that the ICC ever get their hands on any of these thugs

    They should be arrestable anywhere within the US, because they also violated US law. Granted, they probably have secret service ninjas guarding them. But they have committed capital crimes under US law and are subject to arrest on sight in any jurisdiction that is willing to enforce federal law.

  8. kraut says

    “We have to be clear that there is absolutely no legal wiggle room to argue that what was done was not torture nor to escape prosecution for torture”

    You are wrong, and completely so. If the Russians after a popular vote “annex” a country -- that is called an invasion, even if no shots were fired. If the US does it even without the agreement of the populace it is called spreading democracy. In order to spread democracy efficiently, someone might have to suffer the consequences. As long it is coloured folks -- what is the harm?

    When the Russians deliver weapons (not necessarily true, btw.) to a country that declared its desire to become more independent of the central government and subsequently gets not negotiations but tanks and artillery shots thrown at their infrastructureas a negotiating tool than this is called terrorism and someone always sees some imaginary tanks rolling in to make it an invasion.

    If the US or NATO bomb without cause the central government and support rebels with weapons it is called regime change and spreading democracy. Totally different game.

    If the US invades a country, labels the defenders “enemy combatants” or “Terrorists” because they might or might not be really members of a genuine terrorist group, takes the prisoners and tortures them -- this is just cause because “democracy”.

    If a few wind up prisoners who were not even fighting, just in the wrong place at the wrong time? -- as long as they have a different colour from white and get accidentally tortured? Nothing to worry, my friend, it is all because democracy or national security.
    I hope you do understand -- the US under Obama et al declared itself an exceptional state, even a necessary state and international law, the Geneva conventions or home cooked laws that seem to be contrary simply do not apply in any situation where it is deemed necessary by the authority having jurisdiction to not abide by those laws.
    Very simple -- what is there not to understand?

  9. khms says

    I have two serious problems with the definition of torture in the convention.

    (1) It is only torture if some official knows it is happening. WTF?

    (2) All a government needs to do to make it not torture, is make a law that declares it a lawful sanction. WTF?

    Incidentally, the language about jurisdiction in the US law is directly copied from the same language in the convention.

  10. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Maybe some of the member countries can afford to start an embargo of US goods.

    Hopefully….it might make the complacent citizens here at least take notice. Of course, we will just call that economic terrorism and invade them….

    The US is the global bully (for now, things will eventually change).

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