<center><h1><a href=http://smh.com.au/news/After-Saddam/The-price-of-pain/2005/01/14/1105582722411.html#>The price of pain</a></h1></center> <blockquote>January 15, 2005 Declassified FBI and military documents point the finger at the White House for allowing the torture of suspected terrorists. Marian Wilkinson reports on the investigations and their implications for Australia. The "urgent report" landed on the desk of the FBI director, Robert Mueller, just as Washington was preparing for the summer vacation last June. It was carefully copied to every key law enforcement officer in the bureau. It could not be lost, destroyed, misplaced or overlooked. It was explosive. A witness had walked into the Sacramento office of the FBI with first-hand accounts of "serious physical abuses of civilian detainees" in Iraq. He described to agents "strangulation, beatings, placement of cigarettes into detainees' ear openings and unauthorised interrogations". But these claims alone did not hold the shock value in the report. Two months earlier, sensational photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq depicting gross sexual and physical abuse of Iraqi detainees had been splashed across front pages and television screens around the world. What was more disturbing in this report was the allegation from the witness that US officials "were engaged in a cover-up of these abuses".</blockquote> With Charles Graner, an army reserve Spc, found guilty on ten charges regarding the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, the first scapegoat has been sacrificed. And there seems to be little impetus to look higher up the chain of command, let alone the Oval Office. This despite continued allegations from FBI officers that the orders condoning torture seem to have emanated from that source. Also at issue here is the apparent transfer of prisoners to third party nations which are neither signatories to UN Convention Against Torture and are known for there lack of inhibition regarding torture. According to the Convention, which the US is signatory to, "<i>No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.</i>" - Article 3; Para 1. This is a clear violation of the convention and while the US is signatory to the Convention, it has not yet ratified it, it is not legally bound to abide by its provisions. There is, however, a moral obligation to do so. However, the Bush Administration seems to be singularly lacking in morals. A few, though, are questioning the policy put forth in the infamous torture memos. Among them is Senator Lindsay Graham, R- South Carolina. Senator Graham <a href=http://www6.lexisnexis.com/publisher/EndUser?Action=UserDisplayFullDocument&orgId=574&topicId=100005738&docId=l:249954389&start=14>states</a>, <blockquote>"When you start looking at torture statutes and you look at ways around the spirit of the law ... you are losing the moral high ground," he said. The abuse at Abu Ghraib "has hurt us in many ways," he added. "I travel throughout the world like the rest of the members of the Senate, and I can tell you it is a club that our enemies use, and we need to take that club out of their hands."</blockquote> This warning was also sounded by military commanders and lawyers even as these memos and orders were disseminated for implememtation. But they were ignored. So too were the protestations of trained interogators, who KNOW that torture provides little or no useful intel, ignored. Also, by instituting these policies as well as the suspension of the Geneva Conventions with regard to "enemy combatants" the Administration has opened up the very real possiblity of US troops being stripped of their protections under the Convention in this unconventional war as well as any future conventional war. The pattern of abuse at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere, shows very clearly that these acts were not isolated cases of abuse carried out by a few "bad apples". But rather, they are the product of policy decisions made at the highest levels of US government, possiblly even to the Oval Office and George W. Bush. All due diligence must be applied to ferreting out the truth of this matter, regardless of where, or how high, the trail leads. And with that, the perpetrators brought to justice. However, I am cynical enough to think that this will never happen. Too many vested interests are at stake for the Bush Dynasty to be toppled over this issue, horrific as it is. So, a few non-coms, and perhaps even a few low-ranking officers, will be thrown to the wolves while the true perpetrators go free. And this will be to our detriment. America wil have truly and thoroughly lost the moral high ground. The values of freedom and democracy will be made a mockery of and the Republic will perish from the face of this earth.