Apr 7, 2009

Chalk up one for the Good Guys in Peru

Justice is possible in the world. Alberto Fujimori has just been sentenced to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity. (The story is here at the Financial Times.) Since he is seventy years old now and is serving a six year sentence, it appears that he may be destined to serve the rest of his life in prison. His daughter announced she was running for president so she could pardon him, but according to the FT story, there may be no possibility of pardon for a crime against humanity.

The real heroes in this affair are the judges of Chile, who decided he should be extradited to Peru.

Anyone want to set up a ski vacation for Cheney and company in the Chilean Andes? I think it wonderful that Chile and Peru show cajones of this sort. Perhaps they could do us a favor ? Maybe we could get AIG to schedule an executive planning conference and morale building retreat down there and have Cheney and Addington as guest speakers? You think?

You cannot "move on" from crimes like torture. You cannot preserve the rule of law if you do not identify the ones who break the law--no matter how rich or prestigious or politically sacrosanct they are--and identify them, investigate them, bring evidence against them in court, and sentence them appropriately if they are found to be guilty as charged.

It's been nine years since Fujimori left office and fled to Japan. Let us hope that our investigation starts before the trail gets cold.

Right now the Republicans are so afraid of the most damning torture memos being released that they are threatening to filibuster against the nominations of Dawn Johnson to the Office of Legal Counsel and Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh as State Department legal counsel, as reported on Democracy Now! Both of them were critical of the abuses of the justice department under Ashcroft, Gonzales, and Mukasy. (As I write their names, I feel a great satisfaction knowing all three are out of office.)

The Democrats need to call the Republicans' blustery bluff on this one. The February 2009 International Red Cross Report on the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, released in full in the New York Review of Books this week, clearly indicates that torture was committed, and torture is an international as well as a domestic crime. Basta! with the appeasement line of "let's move forward and put the past behind us." Let the Republicans pay for their usurpation. This is not a matter of vengeance or even retribution. This is a matter of establishing justice in a society where notions of justice have been deeply distorted by the Republicans and some colluding Democrats--perhaps we can call them the "good Democrats"? Jane Harman. Jay Rockefeller. Nancy Pelosi. Now that the Democrats are in charge they do not need to aid and abet the distortions any further, especially out of cowardice. Bring on the filibuster. Let the Republicans blather in defense of their unholy law and order.

Just one excerpt of note transcribed from the ICRC report:

Basic materials such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, towels, toilet paper, clothes, underwear, blankets and mattresses wee not provided at all during the initial detention period, in some instances lasting several months. The timing of initial provision and continued supply of all these items was allegedly linked with compliance and cooperation on the part of the detainee. Even after being provided, these basic items allegedly were sometimes removed in order to apply pressure for purposes of interrogation.

In the early phase of interrogation, from a few days to several weeks, access to shower was totally denied and toilet, as mentioned above, was either provided in the form of a bucket or not provided at all--in which case those detainees shackled in the prolonged stress standing position had to urinate and defecate on themselves and remain standing in their own bodily fluid for periods of several days.

Followed by one excerpt of note from our former President at his White House Press Conference, September 15, 2006. [Stutters restored and interpolated]:

This debate is occurring because of the Supreme Court's ruling that said that we must conduct ourselves under the Common Article III of the Geneva Convention. And that Common Article III says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It's [ . . .it's . . . it's] very vague. What does that mean, "outrages upon human dignity"? That's a statement that is wide open to interpretation.

I said then and I say it again: with all due disrespect, Mr. "President," retract your head from where the sun don't shine.

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