Dereliction of Duty | Harper's Magazine

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Dereliction of Duty

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Congressional Quarterly reports that Attorney General Eric Holder reads the news but feels no obligation to act on what he has learned:

The clamor for a Justice Department probe into allegations of detainee torture has intensified this week after the New York Review of Books published excerpts of a 2007 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross that contained interviews with detainees who claimed they had been tortured.

“We will let the law and the facts take us to wherever we go,” Holder said. But he added that the administration does not want to criminalize policy differences. Holder said the department is “mindful” of recent news accounts. But when asked whether there was a formal Justice Department investigation, Holder said, “I wouldn’t say that.”

Article 6 of the Convention Against Torture provides:

Upon being satisfied, after an examination of information available to it, that the circumstances so warrant, any State Party in whose territory a person alleged to have committed an [act of torture] shall take him into custody or take other legal measures to ensure his presence. The custody and other legal measures shall be as provided in the law of that State but may be continued only for such time as is necessary to enable any criminal or extradition proceedings to be instituted.

The offenses described by the Convention are criminalized under United States law by the Anti-Torture Statute, 18 U.S.C. sec. 2340 and sec. 2340A, which further criminalizes a joint criminal enterprise to violate the prohibition on torture, as obviously occurred.

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