No Comment — April 6, 2009, 8:31 pm

“Investigate and Punish the Perpetrators”

The Red Cross apparently thinks that a number of senior Bush Administration figures belong in jail. Its report on “high-value detainees” from February 2007 has just been published by the New York Review of Books. It can be downloaded here(PDF).

A stand-out among the conclusions:

…That the US authorities investigate all allegations of ill-treatment and take steps to punish the perpetrators, where appropriate, and to prevent such abuses from happening again.

As we know, the treatment of the sixteen high-value detainees was reviewed and approved at a very high level. The specific regimen for these detainees was presented to and approved by the Principals Committee of the National Security Committee, chaired by Condoleezza Rice. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a recent interview with Rachel Maddow, properly focused our attention on the fact that an extensive paper trail exists which has not yet become public. Powell said it should be public and the participants should be questioned about it. I give him points for all of that, particularly in that he will himself figure as a target of this inquiry.

The Red Cross does not reach quickly to an “investigate and punish” recommendation. That happens only where the evidence of criminal conduct is manifest. And it was in this case. They use the word “torture” repeatedly, without equivocation or qualification.

Given that six of the key Bush Administration perpetrators now face a criminal investigation in Spain, the publication of the Red Cross report makes it far more likely that the Spanish prosecution will go forward. The question, however, is for the Obama Administration: why has Eric Holder blocked the criminal investigation that a proper understanding of his duties would lead him to initiate?

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