Monday, June 14, 2004

John Walker Lindh and the beginnings of the torture conspiracy

Donald Rumsfeld's legal counsel instructed military intelligence officers to 'take the gloves off' in interrogating John Walker Lindh. Lindh in fact received one of the earliest forms of the Abu Ghraib torture treatment that every person in the whole world now thinks of when they think of the United States. He was interrogated for hours while stripped naked and tied to a stretcher, refused treatment and medication for his painful injuries acquired prior to his capture, threatened with death, videotaped in his naked state with smiling American soldiers, and often held for long periods in a large metal container. If the United States was still subject to the rule of law, both Rumsfeld and his legal counsel would be spending the rest of their sorry lives in jail. Lindh is now imprisoned pursuant to the terms of a plea agreement which he entered into, no doubt fearing what would happen in a trial in crazed, jingoist Amerika (remember how hated he was?). A provision of the plea agreement was that he wouldn't bring up the conditions of his interrogation. In the light of what we now know was a conspiracy by the Bush Administration and its various legal counsel - lawyers so anxious to please they were willing to sign any opinion that Ashcroft and Rumsfeld put in front of them (to the extent they apparently thought that following illegal orders was actually a good legal defense to war crimes charges, and that George W. Bush was King of the United States and subject to no laws, either international or domestic!!) - to create an system of torture illegal under both American and international law and justify it by papering their files with lying legal opinions, isn't it time to let John Walker Lindh go? This conspiracy was building just when Lindh was being interrogated. In fact, had his case gone to trial, the abuses of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere might have been stopped before they got started. Lindh's plea agreement is actually part of the conspiracy which allowed the abuses to continue under cover of secrecy. The fact that the plea agreement itself contains a prohibition against Lindh raising the interrogation conditions is evidence of knowledge of guilt in the American government. The United States relied on illegally obtained confessions essentially tortured out of Lindh contrary to both international and domestic American law, including the Geneva Conventions. The confessions were obtained pursuant to a conspiracy which has led directly to the sorry state the United States now finds itself in with respect to torture all around the world. A court should reconsider the plea agreement. Condoning such an agreement is:

  • condoning torture and the breach of the Geneva Conventions,

  • sanctioning the Bush Administration's conspiracy to breach laws by suborning overly-pliant lawyers into delivering worthless legal opinions, and

  • enforcing a document which itself was part of an illegal conspiracy which led directly to the abuses at Abu Ghraib by covering up the Bush Administration illegalities at an early stage.

Since the evidence against Lindh is all tainted by the torture and the conspiracy to breach American and international laws, and the plea agreement was obtained on pressure put on Lindh on the basis of the tainted confessions, Lindh would have to be released. Failure to throw out the plea agreement and release John Walker Lindh would put the court in the untenable state of being part of the conspiracy to breach international and domestic laws, and would put the administration of justice in America into disrepute.