UN torture rapporteur calls for charges against Bush, Rumsfeld

The UN’s special torture rapporteur called on the administration of Barack Obama to prosecute former president George W. Bush and his defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld for torture and ill-treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. “Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation” to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld, Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak said in remarks to Germany’s ZDF TV.

He noted that Washington is a signatory to the UN Convention on Torture which requires “all means, particularly penal law” to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it. “We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld,” Nowak said, adding that “obviously the highest authorities in the United States were aware of this.”

Asked if he thought legal action against Bush and Rumsfeld is likely, Nowak said: “In principle yes. I think the evidence is on the table.” He said the question is whether “American law will recognize these forms of torture.”

A bipartisan Senate report released last month found Rumsfeld and other top administration officials responsible for abuse of Guantánamo detainees in US custody. It said Rumsfeld authorized harsh interrogation techniques at the prison camp on December 2, 2002, as did a document signed by Bush in February, 2002. (AFP, Jan. 20)