By Paul Craig Roberts
December 05, 2008
The US government
does not have a monopoly on hypocrisy, but no other government can match the
hypocrisy of the US government.
It is now well documented and known all over the world that the US government
tortured detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo and that the US government has
had people kidnaped and “rendentioned,” that is, transported to
third world countries, such as Egypt, to be tortured.
Also documented and well known is the fact that the US Department of Justice
provided written memos justifying the torture of detainees. One torture advocate
who wrote the DOJ memos that gave the green light to the Bush regime’s
use of torture is John Yoo, a Vietnamese immigrant who somehow secured a US
Justice Department appointment and a tenured professorship at the University
of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. John Yoo is the best case
against immigration that I know.
Members of Berkeley’s city council believe that Yoo should be charged
with war crimes. The US government has charged lesser offenders than Yoo with
war crimes. Yoo helped the DOJ achieve the Bush regime’s goal of finding
a way around the torture prohibitions of both US statutory law and the Geneva
The way around the law that Yoo provided for the sadistic Bush regime was closed
down by the US Supreme Court, which voided Yoo’s arguments, and Yoo’s
torture memo was rescinded by the Department of Justice. Nevertheless, Yoo’s
obvious constitutional incompetence, which in Yoo’s case is total, has
not affected his position as professor of constitutional law at Berkeley. Can
you imagine the harm Yoo is doing by teaching future cadres of lawyers and government
officials that torture is consistent with the Constitution and the law of the
land? How many of us will suffer from this ignorant man’s teachings?
But I digress. Even as the US government was torturing people, the US government
was prosecuting the son of Charles Taylor, the former ruler of Liberia, for
torturing political opponents of his father’s government. The US government
did not employ the Yoo torture memo to justify Liberia’s use of torture
against those who wished to overthrow the Liberian government or commit terror
against it. The US government’s position is that Liberia’s government
had no right to use torture to defend itself. Only an “indispensable nation”
such as the US has the right to torture people who are imagined to threaten
I use the word “imagined” because approximately 99 percent of the
detainees tortured by America were totally innocent people picked up at random
or sold to the stupid Americans by warlords as “terrorists.” (The
US government offered rewards for terrorists, like the bounty offered for outlaws
in the “wild west.” The result was that warlords in Afghanistan
and Pakistan grabbed whoever was not one of them and sold their captives to
Americans as “terrorists.”)
According to Carrie Johnson, a Washington Post staff writer, on October 30,
2008, a federal jury in Miami convicted Charles Taylor’s son, Chuckie,
of torture. Chuckie will be sentenced by the indispensable Americans in January
for torture, conspiracy and firearms violations. He may spend the rest of his
life in an American prison.
While Chuckie’s trial was underway, the Bush regime was torturing people.
The Washington Post writes that Chuckie’s conviction is “the first
test of an American law that gives prosecutors the power to bring charges for
acts of torture committed in foreign lands.” In other words, US law against
torture applies to the entire world, to every other country except the United
States. The hubris is unimaginable–no country can torture except the US.
Anyone else who tortures gets life, or in the case of Saddam Hussein gets hung
by the neck until dead.
Isn’t it great to be an American. Our laws don’t apply to us, only
to every other nation. This is what it means to be the moral light of the world,
the unipower, the salt of the earth.
Neither poor Carrie Johnson nor her editors at the Washington post see the
irony or the paradox. Johnson writes in the Washington Post that the US prosecutors
“accused Taylor of taking part in atrocities and directing subordinates
to torture victims using . . . electrical devices from 1999 to 2002.”
That charge practically overlaps in time with Bush’s, or Cheney’s,
or Yoo’s, or the DOJ’s, or Rumfeld’s, or whoever’s direction
to subordinates to torture people detained by Americans at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo,
and in various CIA rendition sites. By now everyone in the world has seen the
photograph of the hooded Iraqi with electrical wires attached standing on that
box in Abu Ghraib.
If only American laws applied to the American government. Then the criminals
who have been in charge for 8 years could be prosecuted for their extreme violation
of United States laws. But, of course, the great moral American government is
far above the law. American law only applies to dispensable nations. America
is not answerable to law, not to its own law and not to international law. US
attorney general Michael Mukasey affirmed that the US government is above all
law when he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that there would be no investigation
or prosecution of those Bush regime officials who authorized torture and those
who carried out the sadistic acts.
The American government, the government of the great indispensable nation,
has a free pass. The strong do what they will. The weak suffer what they must.