The New York Times reports that the Obama Administration is considering a return to the Bush-era interpretation of the UN Convention Against Torture, which is that it does not apply to torture conducted outside US borders. This would mean that those conducting what would be considered torture in the US would not be legally liable for such actions in CIA facilities or US military prisons overseas.
According to the Times, State Department lawyers are urging that the president drop the Bush-era position, while lawyers from the military and intelligence community are concerned that the folks tortured could turn and sue those US officials involved should the US view be officially changed.
The US position on the UN torture convention will need to be clarified at next month's meeting of the UN's Committee Against Torture, where a US delegation will present the US view.
There are ambiguous components of the treaty, as the Times article points out, and to be sure there are differing ways to interpret definitions such as that no torture can be conducted “in any territory under its [the signatory country's] jurisdiction.” There is also the problematic sovereignty issue of US citizens being subject to any international justice mechanism.
But there is a very simple solution to this vexing problem created by the meddling tentacles of the US empire: how about closing down CIA torture facilities and secret US military prisons overseas? Problem solved all around.
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