Glenn Greenwald has a great interview with Manfred Nowak, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. Professor Nowak assures us that our President’s proposal for an advance blanket amnesty of torturers is right out: all nations that signed the Torture Conventions (and that includes the United States) have an obligation to investigate allegations of torture. Period.
Professor Nowak tells us that the investigations, at least, do not have to be criminal in nature, but if crimes of torture are uncovered during those investigations, they must be referred to prosecutors who, in the course of their discretion, may or may not prosecute (and if they do, courts may or may not convict).
In other words, as long as criminal prosecutions are not precluded, American obligations under international law, at this stage, anyway, could be satisfied with Senator Leahy’s “truth and reconciliation” commission, or with other Congressional committee investigations, with a “9-11 commission” type structure, or with a conventional criminal investigation by the Attorney General or by a special prosecutor.
In short, Mr. President, you have “flexibility” to do virtually anything except make the Village Elders happy by preordaining the outcome at this stage, as you have tried to do. But I’m beginning to think the Obama Administration may realize this… even as former Vice President Cheney takes to the talk-circuit almost demanding that he be investigated first. Well… stick around, boys and girls; while some of us may or may not like the outcomes, I can at least promise that the denouement will be interesting…