SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
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.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
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 tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“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.”