[Marxism] UN torture official says US violates torture rules

Fred Feldman ffeldman at verizon.net
Tue Jul 12 11:27:15 MDT 2011

The last three paragraphs are on an interesting, but different subject.

Tuesday, Jul 12, 2011 10:13 ET
UN torture official accuses US of rule violations By Glenn Greenwald

In response to the growing controversy over the inhumane detention 
conditions of Bradley Manning, the U.N.'s top official on torture, Juan 
Mendez, announced last December that his office would formally 
investigate whether those conditions amounted to torture. Since then, 
the Obama administration has steadfastly rejected Mendez's repeated 
requests to interview Manning in private: something even Bush officials 
allowed for "high-level" Guantanamo detainees accused of being top Al 
Qaeda operatives (see p. 3). Now, Mendez is publicly accusing the Obama 
administration of violating U.N. rules by refusing him private access to 

The United Nations' torture investigator on Tuesday accused the United 
States of violating U.N. rules by refusing him unfettered access to the 
Army private accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Juan Mendez, the U.N.'s special rapporteur for torture, said he can't do 
his job unless he has unmonitored access to detainees. He said the U.S. 
military's insistence on monitoring conversations with Bradley Manning 
"violates long-standing rules" the U.N. follows for visits to inmates. . .

Mendez said the U.S. government assured him Manning is better treated 
now than he was in Quantico, but the government must allow the U.N. 
investigator to check that for himself.

Mendez said he needs to assess whether the conditions Manning 
experienced amounted to "torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading 
treatment or punishment" while at Quantico.

"For that, it is imperative that I talk to Mr. Manning under conditions 
where I can be assured that he is being absolutely candid," Mendez said.

During the Bush years, the pronouncements of the U.N.'s rapporteur for 
torture were widely hailed in progressive circles, but caring about what 
the U.N. thinks -- like concerns over detainee abuse -- is so very 2006. 
After all, look over there: it's Michele Bachmann [speaking of things 
that are very 2006, Human Rights Watch (remember them?) has issued a 
report detailing that the Obama administration is in flagrant breach of 
its treaty obligations (remember those?) by continuing to shield Bush 
torture crimes from all forms of accountability]. As for the Obama 
administration's strange refusal to allow a private U.N. interview with 
Manning -- something even Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was allowed by the Bush 
Pentagon in 2006 with the ICRC -- hasn't the Government taught us that 
you have nothing to hide if you've done nothing wrong?

* * * * *

In response to the front-page stories earlier this week in both The 
Washington Post and The New York Times reporting that President Obama 
was advocating cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, some 
insisted that these stories should not be believed because they relied 
upon (multiple) anonymous sources. Yesterday, Obama himself made as 
plain as he could that these stories were entirely accurate, as he said 
in his Press Conference:

And it is possible for us to construct a package that would be balanced, 
would share sacrifice, would involve both parties taking on their sacred 
cows, would involved some meaningful changes to Medicare, Social 
Security, and Medicaid that would preserve the integrity of the programs 
and keep our sacred trust with our seniors, but make sure those programs 
were there for not just this generation but for the next generation. . . 
. I mean, it’s not an option for us to just sit by and do nothing. And 
if you’re a progressive who cares about the integrity of Social Security 
and Medicare and Medicaid, and believes that it is part of what makes 
our country great that we look after our seniors and we look after the 
most vulnerable, then we have an obligation to make sure that we make 
those changes that are required to make it sustainable over the long 
term. . . . With respect to Social Security, as I indicated earlier, 
making changes to these programs is so difficult that this may be an 
opportunity for us to go ahead and do something smart that strengthens 
Social Security and gives not just this generation but future 
generations the opportunity to say this thing is going to be in there 
for the long haul.

For all but the most hardened and irrational apologists, that should 
settle this matter permanently: Obama is a full-scale advocate for 
cutting the crown jewels of the New Deal. Yesterday, The Huffington Post 
reported -- based on "five separate sources with knowledge of 
negotiations -- including both Republicans and Democrats" -- that Obama 
had also offered to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. 
When Joe Lieberman proposed something similar a short time ago, he was 
viciously denounced in Democratic circles as "needlessly cruel," among 
other things; indeed, when Lieberman merely blocked a lowering of the 
Medicare eligibility age during the health care debate, he was denounced 
with equal vigor. Will there be any similar those circles now that it is 
Barack Obama doing this?

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