NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • HRW: Obama broke law not prosecuting Bush & Cheney


    Michael Ratner: Prosecution of Bush Cheney and Rumsfeld will have to be done in other countries as Obama has refused to pursue it -   August 8, 2011
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Audio

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter




    I support The Real News Network because I am tired of lies and biased journalism. Long live TRNN! - Roberto
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. His current books include "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century America," and “ Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder.” NOTE: Mr. Ratner speaks on his own behalf and not for any organization with which he is affiliated.

    Transcript

    HRW: Obama broke law not prosecuting Bush & CheneyPAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay, coming to you from New York City. We're at Rizzoli Bookstore in New York, who generously provided the space. Human Rights Watch issued a report recently that not only said that President Bush and Vice President Cheney should be prosecuted for crimes, particularly to do with torture, but they also said that President Obama violated the law by not doing so. Now joining us to discuss all of this is Michael Ratner. Michael is the president at the Center for Constitutional Rights. And for full transparency, he's also a member of the board of The Real News Network Thanks for joining us.

    MICHAEL RATNER, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, AUTHOR: Nice to be here, Paul.

    JAY: So what did you make of the Human Rights Watch report?

    RATNER: You know, it was terrific. I mean, Human Rights Watch has been consistent, really, since the torture conspiracy has begun and unfolded about demanding that there be an investigation and prosecution of the major perpetrators of the torture conspiracy. And, of course, that's the president, Bush; Vice President Cheney; it's Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense; the lawyers as well. And they've insisted on an investigation, and they've put out two reports over the years, one in 2005 or 2006, and one just recently, which was a compilation of all the material, including the recent material that came out over the last year, that people were waterboarded 185 times, etc., and it was a really hard-hitting report. And it not only said the US should prosecute, but if there's a failure by the US to prosecute--and they said there is a failure--then the national courts of other countries ought to prosecute. And we can talk about that, 'cause it's some of the work we're pursuing in Spain and in Switzerland against some of the key members of the Bush administration.

    JAY: Before we talk about that, is there anything that can be done? If they're correct and the Obama administration is violating the law by not prosecuting, what can Americans do in order to hold the Obama administration accountable?

    RATNER: Well, this is always the question: how do you hold lawless administrations accountable? Now, what Human Rights Watch said and what has been clear for a long time is, when the US signed the Convention Against Torture, which has been signed by 148 countries, that convention requires every country to investigate any torturers on their territory. And if they don't do that, they're violating the convention and violating the law. And the law that Human Rights Watch is referring to is that the US is a signatory and has ratified the Convention Against Torture, which says that if you have torturers on your territory or if torturers come into your to your territory, they have to be investigated and prosecuted, or they have to be extradited to a country that will do it if they're not from the home country. So where Obama is going wrong and where he's violating the law is by giving a free pass to people who are not just suspected of being torturers, but people who have admitted to carrying out acts that constitute torture. George Bush, for example, in his recent autobiography, talked about waterboarding, which, as all your listeners, I'm sure, know, is a form of torture. It's one the US has condemned continuously up until the Bush administration. We prosecuted people for it. It's one the French used in Algeria; they were prosecuted for it. It's a huge, huge issue. It's clearly torture. And so Bush admitted in his book that he would torture, and he said he would torture again. And then what did Obama do? His reaction to all of that, to all of those admissions, to the 183 waterboardings, is to say we're going to look forward, we're not going to look backward. And that's completely disingenuous. Obviously--.

    JAY: Yeah. There'd been no judicial system if that was applied to crime.

    RATNER: Right. It would be all pre-crime, right, or something like that.

    JAY: [incompr.] Tom Cruise movies.

    RATNER: Right. It would be all nothing. It would be--the whole theory of the criminal justice system is that you commit a criminal act and you get tried for it as in part a deterrence that you won't commit future criminal acts.

    JAY: So is there any judicial mechanism, for example, the Center for Constitutional Rights or some other body could actually take the administration to court and try to actually sue, I guess, in some way that the administration's violating the law?

    RATNER: The Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU have brought scores, probably, of cases in the United States court to try and get some accountability for torture. We can't bring criminal cases. Our system in the United States is one in which we can only bring cases for damages. It's the prosecutor who brings the criminal cases. And unlike Europe, there's no way that a individual or an organization can come in on the prosecution side. So we bring these civil cases. We bring them for torture at Guantanamo. We bring them for torture at Abu Ghraib. We bring them directly against Donald Rumsfeld. We bring them all over the place. Every single case--including one of your citizens, Maher Arar, a case we brought on his behalf because of his torture in Syria, sent there by the United States for the purpose of being tortured--we brought every one of those cases. Every one has been dismissed by the United States courts, either because they claim--in Maher Arar's case particularly outrageous--that while it may have been illegal to torture people in the United States, it wasn't clearly illegal to send someone abroad for torture.

    JAY: Okay. No, I'm asking specifically: the Obama administration, if they're violating these treaties and laws thus, is there a way to go after, directly, the Obama administration for this?

    RATNER: The answer is no, there's not. Not--no legal mechanism in the courts to do that.

    JAY: So it would have to come out of Congress?

    RATNER: There's no way to do it. There's no--we have to come from a prosecutor saying the US attorney, the attorney general saying, you're violating the law and we'll go after you for that. Well, the US attorney is Eric Holder, appointed by Obama. I mean, what are we talking about here, Paul? Congress can't do it. Congress could conceivably impeach someone who violates a treaty. They've--you know, that's very unlikely. So we're not talking about any mechanism. There are international mechanisms we can use--violation of the Convention Against Torture. There's UN mechanisms. They won't necessarily lead to criminal prosecutions. They lead to a little bit of trouble, which is--in the position of the most powerful country in the world, where we are, is about what you can do.

    JAY: Talk a little bit about the international options, then.

    RATNER: The international options have been options that we at the center have been pursuing, really, since about 2004. National courts, which is to say the courts of any country, all are parties to the Convention Against Torture, and a lot of them actually have laws that say, we will prosecute, we will investigate and prosecute torturers on our territory. And unlike the United States, organizations in those countries, victims or survivors of torture in those countries, are allowed to try and bring cases into courts and get them looked at by investigating judges. We have not been very successful, but we have been somewhat successful in doing that. So we began by going to Germany, which had a very good law, partly coming out of the Holocaust experience. We eventually lost those cases in Germany. The court said, well, we're not sure the US won't investigate, etc. Then we went to France. We got a very bad decision in France. Rumsfeld was actually in France when we tried to do it. We were unable to. Two other cases, though, are more optimistic. Bush, our former president, was about to make his first trip to Switzerland about two months ago, and he was invited there, and it was going to be his first trip outside the United States, not just to Switzerland. And we prepared a torture complaint to file in Switzerland, which, about two days before, we had to give the Swiss authorities notice we're about to file this. Bush then canceled his trip to Switzerland. So--and it was clearly because of that.

    JAY: Is there any international forum, or, I should say, another country, where one could actually launch a case against the Obama administration for violating the treaty?

    RATNER: With great difficulty. I'm not sure there is. It would have to come within their law as a treaty violation, and most of them wouldn't be that direct against Obama. But it's certainly one--it's intriguing, it's one worth looking at, but it's not one that we have yet looked at pursuing. The other case that we've been very successful at is we've sued the key people in the Bush administration in Spain. And one of the judges who had replaced the judge Garzon, who had been booted out because of wanting to open up the Spanish Civil War cases, one of those judges actually opened a case that's currently pending before a judge in Spain. Geoffrey Miller, the former head of Guantánamo, is the main defendant right now in that case. He's the first one we've been able to actually get testimony taken against. He was also the one who said we're going to Gitmo-ize Iraq. That's what led to Abu Ghraib. So Spain is going to be very successful, I think. And at this point, the one thing you can say is none of these guys are going to be visiting the Prado very soon. I mean, none of these Bush, etc., group are going to go. So I feel strongly that we're moving in a right direction. It took 30 years to get Pinochet. I'm not sure it will take so long to get these guys.

    JAY: Thanks for joining us. And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network, coming to you today from Rizzoli Bookstore in New York City.

    End of Transcript

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting