US Law Special: The Leak Investigation

7 December
:: Sec. Rice in Kiev says US has forbidden all forms of cruel or inhumane treatment, anywhere US personnel operate...
6 December
:: ACLU files suit against Bush admin. for kidnapping foreign national...
:: HRW: Rice "miscast" rendition as legal; it is clearly banned under international law...
5 December
:: McCain holds firm, torture ban must be total, must be law; Hadley pushing CIA exemption...
Human Rights Watch :: Reports on abuse...

US Legal & Judicial News

Under Article VI of the US Constitution:
"...all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land..."

Under Article 1 of the Convention against Torture:
"1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "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"...

Under Article 2 of the Convention against Torture:
"2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

Under Article 4 of the Convention against Torture:
"1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture."

Under the US Foreign Assistance Act:
Section 502b: "a principal goal of the foreign policy of the United States shall be to promote increased observance of internationally recognized human rights by all countries".

14 June 2006

A new report by the human rights organization, entitled Partners in Crime, accuses 7 EU member states of collaborating in extrajudicial detentions and renditions to third countries or prison facilities where torture may be used. The report follows up on a Council of Europe investigation, headed by Swiss senator Dick Marty, which found that 14 EU states had been complicit in extralegal detentions and prisoner transfers.

The new Amnesty report lists Bosnia-Hercegovina, Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Sweden, Turkey and the UK as having clearly collaborated in the CIA's alleged program of renditions, through which individuals accused of terrorist ties were taken from the streets of European countries or from Afghan or Iraqi soil, flown without charge or process to third countries, and subjected to prolonged detentions and in some cases, torture.

The report also calls specifically for individual officials in the named countries to beheld criminally responsible for participation in actions which violate international human rights law or domestic due process requirements. Amnesty calls the attitude of EU governments hypocritical, citing efforts to denounce the Guantanamo detention facility, even where the same governments participated in efforts to detain and transfer prisoners to the legally undefined camp.

The gist of the report is to call for openness and clarity about any role EU governments may have had, alleging that continued denials, which appear to be "wearing very, very thin", according to Dick Oosting, director of Amnesty's EU branch.

European ministers are expected to press George W. Bush to close the camp at a US-EU summit in Vienna, as the European Parliament has recently passed a non-legally-binding resolution calling for its closure. It has been called an "anomaly" for a nation that seeks to promote justice and freedom around the world, and Pres. Bush has said he wants to close the camp, but that he is "waiting" for a legal process to emerge which would allow the detainees to be tried in a new kind of military setting. [s]

24 January 2006

Prelminary findings from the Council of Europe's investigation into human rights abuses and a secret CIA network of extralegal detention facilities report high probability that European governments knew what US forces were doing on their soil and in neighboring countries. [Full Story]

9 December 2005

The principal legal problem relating to alleged "ghost flights", secret interrogations and the policy of "extraordinary rendition" is the extralegal nature of all three techniques. The issue centers on these processes being designed to operate beyond the scope of ordinary legal constraints. [Full Story]

7 December 2005

Amid growing concern relating to press reports of undisclosed CIA flights through or over European nations, with possible connections to the abduction of terror suspects and the use of secret detention centers, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has sought to defend US policy. She admitted that the US might make mistakes in the "war on terror", but did not make specific reference to controversy over the alleged abduction of an innocent German citizen who, after 5 months of questioning in Afghanistan, proved to be a case of mistaken identity.

Secretary Rice spoke to the press while in Kiev, Ukraine, today, Wednesday, and announced that the US had prohibited all inhumane treatment of prisoners. She said "As a matter of U.S. policy, the United States' obligations under the CAT [U.N. Convention Against Torture], which prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment -- those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States".

8 December Update:
Human Rights Watch has issued a statement calling Rice's comments in favor of international torture bans "inadequate". The organization stated that the Secretary of State's comments did not address any specific allegations of secret or extralegal procedures which, if true, would violate those prohibitions. [Full Story]

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment —based in part on the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1975— was formally adopted by the UN in 1984 and entered into force on 26 June 1987.

Under Part I, Article II, Section 1 of the treaty, "Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction." [emphasis added] the US Constitution specifically requires that ratification of any treaty binds the standards of the US system of laws to those of the ratified treaty. Some legal clauses relevant to stories in this special section can be found in selected excerpts to the left of this page, above.

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