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The International Center for Transitional Justice has spent more than a year looking into how the United States can restore its good name on the international stage. Here’s the diagnosis:
[The] slippage in respect for human rights by the U.S. government and its agents has
occurred in the context of government policies of secrecy and denial. The democratic
principle that openness in government can act as an important check against the
possibility of government abuse has been steadily undermined. A critical information
gap, only partially addressed through fragmented investigative efforts within and outside
government, leaves important questions unanswered, such as how and by whom abuse
has been authorized and carried out, on what scale and with what human and policy
The first important steps in righting U.S. policy in connection to the “war on terror” must be to ensure that abuses cease, that instructions to avoid future abuses are clear and unequivocal, and that its commitment as a party to international treaties such as the Geneva Conventions, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment are fully honored.
It has some simple recommendations:
An investigative body, special investigative committee, or commission of inquiry
(hereafter, generically, “inquiry”) should be established to examine the causes, nature,
extent and effects of gross or systematic violations of U.S. law and applicable
international human rights and humanitarian law standards that may have been
committed in relation to the “war on terror.”
The path out of torture starts, sensibly enough, with coming clean about what happened. Read the entire policy statement here.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”