Poll: Most want inquiry into anti-terror tactics

If we limit ourselves to the specific alleged crime (against Condoleezza Rice and others) of *torture* — and put aside for now the much worse crime of aggressive war as against Iraq — we see that a clear majority is in agreement with the dictates of international law.

In particular, the vast majority of the US public in favour of investigations/prosecutions of Bush administration officials agrees with the UN Convention Against Torture, signed by the USA in 1988, ratified 1994, and hence, according to article VI of the US Constitution, the “supreme law of the land” — also implemented into US domestic law by the War Crimes Act of 1996, the torture statute, and other legislation and regulation. (See Marjorie Cohn’s article at http://www.counterpunch.org/cohn05062008.html for a useful summary of the legislation.)

UN Convention Against Torture

Article 2

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

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

Article 12

Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.

NB: It is an *obligation* to investigate. It is not optional.

The law against torture is “jus cogens”, a peremptory norm of international law from which no derogation is permitted. In this status it ranks with the worst crimes against humanity, alongside genocide and aggressive war.

There is no immunity for the specific international crime of torture — so, at least, the UK House of Lords held against Pinochet, the US-backed dictator of Chile. Whatever Pinochet’s arguments, the case for immunity for Rice and others can be no stronger.

“[T]he torturer has become like the pirate and slave trader before him hostis humani generis, an enemy of all mankind”.
— US Court of Appeals (2nd circuit), 1980

Recent poll agrees with international law
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