UN Rights Chief Says Torture Probe Must Go To The Top . . . Paging Mr. Cheney

The head of the U.N.’s human rights arm is demanding that the torture investigation go to the very top:

The U.S. prosecutor’s investigation into alleged criminal CIA interrogation techniques must go right to the top political level, the chief U.N. rights official said on Thursday.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, 67, in a wide-ranging interview with Reuters, urged European and other countries to resettle Guantanamo detainees so that President Barack Obama can close the U.S.-run prison in Cuba by year-end…

The former United Nations war crimes judge [said] “Whenever people come under the jurisdiction of the United States, the United States has to be seen to be upholding the very high standards that they claim for their own citizens” …

Any torture or death inflicted on suspects held by U.S. authorities in places including Bagram detention centre in Afghanistan should be part of this investigation, she said.

Asked whether it should go beyond establishing the criminal liability of CIA interrogators, Pillay replied: “That is international law on accountability — that you do not stop at the foot soldiers, you go right up to the ultimate authority that is legally responsible.”

And these would include those who devised the policy, those who ordered it,” said Pillay, a Tamil from South Africa.

Former U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney, a vocal defender of the Bush administration’s security policies, has said intelligence obtained from harsh interrogation techniques had saved lives.

Of course, it has been proven beyond a shadow of doubt that torture did not save lives. See this, this, and this.

Moreover, Cheney is the guy who:

And – to cap it off – the torture program which Cheney created was specifically aimed at producing false confessions in an attempt to link Iraq and 9/11, even though Cheney (and everyone else) knew that no link existed.

Cheney is definitely one of the people at “the top” in the whole torture fiasco.

Update: As former constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald notes today, the Founding Fathers would have been sickened by Cheney’s rationalizations:

In his 1795 essay, which he entitled Dissertations on First Principles of Government Thomas Paine wrote this as his last paragraph:

An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

Can that be any clearer? Of course, Paine also wrote in Common Sense that “so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king” and “in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.” And in his Dissertations, he also wrote:

The executive is not invested with the power of deliberating whether it shall act or not; it has no discretionary authority in the case; for it can act no other thing than what the laws decree, and it is obliged to act conformably thereto. . . .

For anyone who believes in the basic principles of the founding, the fact that these acts of torture are illegal — felonies — ought to end the discussion about whether they were justified.

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