by Jason Easley
December 09, 2014
A top international official is calling for the criminal prosecution
of top members of the Bush administration for torture and other war
United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human
rights, Ben Emmerson called for prosecutions of former Bush
administration officials at the highest levels,
It is now time to take action. The individuals responsible for the
criminal conspiracy revealed in today's report must be brought to
justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the
gravity of their crimes.
The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized
at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse
whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal
International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public
officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only
to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within
the US Government who devised, planned and authorized these crimes.
As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring
those responsible to justice.
The UN Convention Against Torture and
the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to
prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is
sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.
States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave
It is no defence for a public official to claim that they were
acting on superior orders. CIA officers who physically committed
acts of torture therefore bear individual criminal responsibility
for their conduct, and cannot hide behind the authorization they
were given by their superiors.
However, the heaviest penalties should be reserved for those most
seriously implicated in the planning and purported authorization of
these crimes. Former
Administration officials who have admitted their
involvement in the program should also face criminal prosecution for
The prosecutions would involve the highest levels of the Bush
Former CIA directors, Dick Cheney, and
maybe even former President Bush. The CIA may have misled the Bush
administration about the severity of the tactics, but it was the
Bush administration that set up a torture program that was a clear
violation of international law.
The odds of the Bush administration officials being turned over for
prosecution are zero, but those who have referred to the Bush
administration as war criminals have new justifications for their
They also have the agreement of the international community that
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
engaged in was criminal, and officials in their
administration deserve to be prosecuted.