No Comment — February 17, 2009, 9:59 am

Jurists: War on Terror Tactics Have Undermined Basic Values

At a press conference in Geneva yesterday the International Commission of Jurists released the results of its three-year study of new policies adopted by the United States, Britain, and other nations to address the war on terror. The Washington Post reports:

“We have been shocked by the damage done over the past seven years by excessive or abusive counter-terrorism measures in a wide range of countries around the world,” said Arthur Chaskalson, a member of the International Commission of Jurists, in a statement announcing results of a 3-year study of counter-terrorism measures since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. “Many governments, ignoring the lessons of history, have allowed themselves to be rushed into hasty responses to terrorism that have undermined cherished values and violated human rights,” said Chaskalson, a former chief justice of South Africa.

The complete report, which is quite readable, can be accessed here.

Roughly two-thirds of the American public now want there to be more accountability for war on terror-related crimes committed by the Bush Administration. And a storm of controversy has engulfed the British Government over its cooperation with American intelligence authorities connected to the torture of a British subject, Binyam Mohamed, who is expected to be released from Guantánamo and returned to Britain within the next few days. Parliamentary figures and others have charged that the evidence available implicated British intelligence services in the prisoner’s torture, while the British Government, resisting disclosure of the evidence, denies this. The Post reports that the former head of MI5 is defending her service even as she assailed U.S. abuses in an interview with the Spanish press:

“It would be better that the government recognized that there are risks–rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism–that we live in fear and under a police state,” said Stella Rimington, former head of MI5, the domestic intelligence-gathering agency. In an interview with Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper, which was republished in the British press Tuesday, Rimington compared the controversial anti-terror practices at the U.S.-run detention center at Guantanamo Bay military base in Cuba with Great Britain’s MI5 security service.

“MI5 does not” engage in the same activities, she said, adding that the U.S. practice of prosecuting terror suspects through the military system, and using widely denounced interrogation measures, “has achieved the opposite effect — there are more and more suicide terrorists finding a greater justification.”

These remarks are provoking skepticism in Britain and demands for a fuller accounting.

The International Commission of Jurists will issue their report at a function to be held at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., on Friday, February 27 at 9:30 a.m. I will be participating in a panel discussion at the event, which is open to the public and Harper’s readers are welcome to attend.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2016

Disunified Front

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

We Don’t Have Rights, But We Are Alive

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Isn’t It Romantic?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Trusted Traveler

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Trouble with Iowa

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Queen and I

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Isn’t It Romantic?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“He had paid for much of her schooling, something he cannot help but mention, since the aftermath of any failed relationship brings an ungenerous and impossible impulse to claw back one’s misspent resources.”
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
The Trouble with Iowa·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“It seems to defy reason that this anachronistic farm state — a demographic outlier, with no major cities and just 3 million people, nine out of ten of them white — should play such an outsized role in American politics.”
Photograph (detail) © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Article
Rule, Britannica·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“This is the strange magic of an arrangement of all the world’s knowledge in alphabetical order: any search for anything passes through things that have nothing in common with it but an initial letter.”
Artwork by Brian Dettmer. Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W., New York City.
Article
The Queen and I·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Buckingham Palace is a theater in need of renovation. There is something pathetic about a fiercely vacuumed throne room. The plants are tired. Plastic is nailed to walls and mirrors. The ballroom is set for a ghostly banquet. Everyone is whispering, for we are in a mad kind of church. A child weeps.”
Photograph (detail) © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
Article
We Don’t Have Rights, But We Are Alive·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If I really wanted to learn about the Islamic State, Hassan told me, I ought to speak to his friend Samir, a young gay soldier in the Syrian Army who’d been fighting jihadis intermittently for the past four years.”
Photograph (detail) by Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty

Estimated number of American senior citizens who played tackle football last year:

47,000

An island of fairy penguins was successfully defended against foxes and feral dogs by Maremma sheepdogs.

In Turlock, California, nearly 3,500 samples of bull semen were stolen from the back of a truck.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Two Christmas Mornings of the Great War

By

Civilization masks us with a screen, from ourselves and from one another, with thin depth of unreality. We habitually live — do we not? — in a world self-created, half established, of false values arbitrarily upheld, largely inspired by misconception, misapprehension, wrong perspective, and defective proportion, misapplication.

Subscribe Today