The President of the legal nonprofit Center for Constitutional Rights,
Michael Ratner, has resumed calls for a formal prosecution of ex-Bush
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld following revelations by a
Congressional report that Rumsfeld was to blame for the Pentagon's
policy allowing torture.
In a statement, he said that the report reaffirms findings he spelled out in his book published this September, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution. Ratner's group was the first to volunteer an attorney to meet with one of the CIA's "ghost detainees."
"The Committee's report reaffirms that high-ranking administration
officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, were directly responsible for the
abuse and torture of detainees in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan,"
Ratner said in a statement to RAW STORY. "The brutal interrogation
techniques used on our clients and many others were carried out despite
well-documented opposition from military lawyers and others concerned
by the illegality and ineffectiveness of the techniques."
"There is no question that Rumsfeld and the others must be held
individually accountable, and it must be before a court of law. There
must be consequences for their illegal activities," he said. "A special
prosecutor should be appointed. To do otherwise is to send a message of
impunity that will only embolden future administrations to again engage
in serious violations of the law."
A Senate Armed Services report
issued Thursday asserted that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
and other members of the Bush administration "conveyed the message that
physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for
According to the committee, prisoners were tortured in the Iraqi prison
Abu Ghraib, the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other US
military installations. Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain
(R-AZ) were responsible for the content of the Senate's findings.
The report determined that placing the blame on "a few bad apples," as
Bush administration officials attempted to do in the aftermath of the
Abu Ghraib scandal, is inappropriate.
The policies were adopted after government assessments determined
waterboarding and other torture techniques were "100 percent effective"
at breaking the wills of US officers who underwent the military's
Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape program.
Ratner says Rumsfeld's being singled out is no coincidence.
"After reviewing thousands of documents, this bi-partisan committee
confirmed that senior officials are directly responsible for ushering
in one of the darkest chapters in our nation's history and the loss of
our moral authority in the eyes of the world," Ratner said. "The report
re-asserts that the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody was
the result of deliberate decisions made at the top, with explicit
approval given by Rumsfeld and other officials for inhumane treatment
of prisoners, and was not merely the work of a few bad apples way down
the chain of command."
He addds that report notes that techniques used by the Pentagon were
"based on Communist Chinese methods employed to obtain false
confessions for propaganda. Professional interrogators agree that the
fastest way to get the best information from a prisoner is through
building trust and rapport, not torture. The recognition of the
illegality and unreliability of this kind of evidence is critical in
the cases of some of our clients, like Mohammed al Qahtani. Time and
time again, we have seen that torture simply does not work, and only
undermines our commitment to basic human rights."
"We hope the courts and the next administration take notice and take action," he concludes.