tv Inside Story Al Jazeera December 11, 2014 3:30am-4:01am EST
audiences here can see how people in other countries deal with the challenges of living in the mountains. al jazerra, kathmandu. all the headlines, back grounds, too, and many interesting features there on our website. that's aljazerra.com. >> the argument about whether to release the so-called torture report is over. it's now moving to what we do with the information now that it's public. to prosecute or not. it's inside story. >> hello, i'm ray suarez. the senate intelligence committee's majority has received a massive report
detailing the torture of prisoners held in the years after the terrorist attacks in new york and washington. even as the public was being assured that terrorist suspects were not being tortured the report says they were. the catalog of abuse visited on the detainees including men who turned out to know nothing makes distressing reading. the debate now has moved to what happens once of interrogation program has been made public. does the u.s. move to prosecute those responsible for the torture it is, for the cover up and lies that kept it from the white house and congress. >> on the eve of international human rights day u.n. special ist scolded over the intelligence gathering post 9/11. he urged it's now time to take action. the individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today's report must be brought to justice, and must
face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. international law makes it illegal to grant immunity to anyone who carries out torture. >> this is really painful. the report indicates that some of our countrymen who were tortured were totally innocent. >> the outrage follows revelation of the true breadth and depth of harsh methods used by the c.i.a. to interrogate terror suspects after 9/11, and the efforts made to keep them secret. >> there are c.i.a. records stating that colin powell was not told about the program at first. because there were concerns
that, and i quote, powell would blow his stack. >> they are right now people serving in high-level positions at the agency who approved, directed or committed acts in the interrogation program. it's bad enough not to prosecute these officials, but to with regard or promote them and risk the integrate of the u.s. government to protecting this incomprehensible. >> beyond crossing the lines of what is seen as legal methods of interrogation the report also documents how the c.i.a. repeatedly misled multiple branches of the u.s. government about its programs' activities. it says the legal justification for the c.i.a.'s enhanced interrogation techniques relied on the claim that the techniques were necessary to save lives. but in march 2005 the c.i.a. submitted to the department of justice various examples of the
effectiveness of the c.i.a.'s enhanced interrogation techniques that were inaccurate. and the c.i.a. provided extensive amounts of inaccurate and incomplete information to the white house, the national security council principles and their staffs. general michael hayden, former c.i.a. director defended the agency on wednesday saying the c.i.a. was following orders. in. >> in all of these activities the president authorized them, the congress was briefed without objection, and we carried them out. 2006 i'm almost certain 2007 absolutely certain. i recall at that point i gave them a list with the 30-some detainees who had had enhanced interrogation techniques used with the techniques across the cross and xs in the box as to which technique was used against which detainee. >> reporter: senator
saxby chambliss. >> the nation has been traumatized, and there was no greater imperative than stopping another attack from happening. this context is absent from the study. >> reporter: so far the president seems to be avoiding making a judgment of whether or not a further investigation or prosecutions are necessary. >> i recognize that there is controversies in terms of some of the details, but what is not controversial is the fact that we did some things that violated who we are as a people. >> rights groups and others are saying the evidence now is overwhelming, and crimes did occur. >> the need for accountability just grows, and amongst the things perhaps primary thing we need is the appointment of an independent special prosecutor to conduct a top to bottom review of those who authorized
torture, carried it out, and covered it up so we can have actual accountability going forward. >> reporter: and what of the two contractors identified in the senate report as the designers of the interrogation methods, contractors paid $81 million. are they subject is to criminal investigation? >> it's the 30th anniversary of the international convention on torture, a compact the u.s. sported and if the senate report is correct, violated. what should we do with the knowledge of the limits exceed exceeded. we go to the chair of military university. chair of international law at university of georgia school of law. and law professor at the american university washington school of law. to begin with, i'm going to break this down into two sets of questions because i think there
is a good debate had whether they can be charged and whether they should be charged. that's really two different questions. steve, under your reading of the established law, and what's contained in the report, can the people who carry these acts out be charged? >> i think the answer is yes. that is to say if you look at the anti-torture statute, section 2348, the warm crime acts, criminal law prohibitions on these kinds of assaults and batteries i think a clever prosecutor who wanted to bring the case against the perpetrators of these abuses could do so. is there authority? is there a possible, and the answer has to be yes. >> sebastian, same question. >> i'm no lawyer, but i have experience in training people to interview
terrorist suspects. i would say a clever prosecutor could do it? yes, maybe, but general hayden said this was not a rogue operation from a loose band of ne'er-do-wells inside the government. this was an initiative reviewed by the pentagon and doj and briefed to the congress. the idea that you're going to have an easy case to prosecute when congress has been informed on the specific techniques used against individuals i think that will give a very hard case to make. >> professor, with your reading of the law and your reading of the report from the senate, can these people whose carried out these acts be charged ? >> i think there is no question that it's appropriate and imperative
to investigate these alleged offenses, and i agree with steve that it's quite possible to bring charges under existing statutes. the fact that some in the political branches were aware of it, briefed on, and perhaps even approved of the conduct does not by any means excuse it. the notion that just following orders or just following legal advice is carté blanche to commit illegal acts is certainly wrong. >> since you're turning the corner for us, let me follow up with you. the idea that a program is presented to you, that your explained perimeters that guide what you're meant to be doing in the field, and then you go and do it, why isn't that a defense?
you. >> well, it's known, unfortunately, as the no nuremberg defense. they established without equivocation that each human being is responsible for their own acts. and if they commit something that is illegal they have a duty certainly under international law to refuse that order and not engage in that conduct. and so i think we have doctrines within the united states that similarly do not allow people to shield themselves from accountability for illegal
behavior by saying my lawyer told me it was okay. >> well, that's the thing. in response, sebastian, of what you said earlier, if that's the program, how is an operative know its flagrantly illegal in the words of the professor? >> that's the fascinating question. the phrase manifestly illegal, how can something be manifestly illegal if it's not just an order? the nuremberg trial was for people who simply defended themselves by saying my superior ordered me to do this. that's not what happened in this case. this is when an extensive judicial or legal review was under taken by people in the administration, not people on capitol hill. people with legal training who are in positions to vet the legality of a technique. so when i've been told that i'm a subordinate, and this has been reviewed by the department of
justice, and the department of defense as a legal procedure, i think the nurembish erg defense flies out of the wind. >> there are different levels of accountability and responsibility, are there thus different levels of who should be held accountable and how seriously? >> i think so, but let me say in response to sebastian, this was not a situation, and we learned this from the torture report, this was not a situation where the government officer said i think we'll do action a. let me go to the lawyer and ask if it's okay. one of the things that we learned from the report was that there were senior lawyers who concluded that many of these interrogation techniques were illegal and then overridden. are there different levels of accountability we have to ask different questions about the actual officers on the ground who may have been the perpetrators of these abuses about the lawyers who
knowingly wrote memorandum to provide those officers with cover, and those senior executive branch officials who may not have known that this was going on or may have sanctioned it. >> isn't that the crux of the debate, finding a rationale of things being done. >> it's different going to a lawyer and say can i do this activity yes or no or going to a lawyer and saying, i'm doing this activity, tell mow how to make it legal. you're seeing so many calls for renewed accountability. it doesn't mean that bev to necessarily prosecute every single individual who was involved, but it does mean that the release of the report yesterday, the release of the executive summary is only the beginning of the conversation, not the end. >> we'll be back with more inside story. after the break what role if any does public opinion play in moving ahead with punishing those who may have exceeded legal limits in the way they
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>> tuesday, the landmark series concludes. >> i'm on a mission that i have to keep this business going. >> an intimate look at middle class families. >> i panicked because, how we gonna pay that? >> the issues we face. >> there's no way to pay for it. >> fighting to survive. >> she's like my role model... as in perseverance. >> building a better future. >> it's coming together little by little. >> real life solutions you can't afford to miss. >> we're making it the best that we can. >> "america's middle class -
rebuilding the dream". >> tuesday. >> 7:00 eastern. >> only on al jazeera america. >> you're watching inside story on al jazeera america. i'm ray suarez. in a "newsweek" poll americans were asked if they would support torture if it could generate information that could prevent a terrorist attack? 58% said they would. just a third of respondents said torture was everyjustified. as the obama administration figures out how to proceed now that we know what went on in the early years of the new century can the government move against the alleged torturers without the backing of the public. we were making legal arguments, but this is more political. if you do something as high wire as going after the operatives in the field, do you have to have the backing of the public? >> i'm not a politician. i just look at it from the point of view of national security.
if you have had an extensive program, again, to represent these events as people doing nasty stuff and then retroactively trying to get it legally justified, i don't think that's a fair representation of the scale of this. this was a program, a built program that had in it legal review, and you heard the director of the c.i.a. say we presented these regularly to congress. so i think there's a bigger picture here that has to be shared. i think the bigger problem is if there was a program, if it had legal review, and in good faith it was executed upon by the subordinates , who were told it had-reviewed, now to say we're going to charge you arrest you and prosecute you, what happens to the future of americans that we wish to recruit in our national security services? who is ever going to feel as if the politicians, the executive have their back because perhaps four years from now the next
president or another senate committee will release another report in what you were told was legal is now illegal, and you're going to jail. that can have a very big effect on the security of americans. >> diane, how about that? this argument has come up in various forms in the last 48 hours that these men in the field were doing what they were told to do in the time of tension, new war and fear that another attack was imminent. >> well, in fact, the torture report tells us that some of the operators in the field were almost in tears and choking up and requested transfers because they knew what they were being asked to do was wrong. i think that we should celebrate those people, and we shouldn't forget that there are people in the national security establishment, who have been
embarrassed, resigned from their positions, horrified at what establishments they grew up in, that they made their careers in were reduced to by this program. i think those are questions that need to be asked as well. as for the question about the polling with regard to should torture be okay if it can get actionable information? i think we also need to acknowledge that one of the points that the torture report makes is that there was no essential information extracted through these methods. that should not be a surprise. if you start pulling out someone's finger nails they will say anything to make you stop. in fact, in one case the evidence, as reported, before the torture was confirmed, giving much better information with much more forthcoming and
much more cooperative until the c.i.a. took over the investigation and started applying these coercive methods against him. so that i think we need to look at the entire picture, and consider that rather than try to justify what settles constitutional law, settles statutory law and international treaties to which we belong, and in a which we pushed through the international community make clear is unconscionable and illegal. >> steve, is the threat of prosecution at the very least a tool by which you may be able to find out once and for all the breadth, the scope, the details of what really happened? >> i think its tricky because i think the more that the threat of prosecution is looming as a shadow over any future investigation, the less that an individual will be inclined to talk, the less they'll be
inclined to share information to committee and federal investigators and so on. i think there should be some calls in favor of holistic narrative some kind of effort to gain bipartisan national consensus so that the poll numbers you refer to can actually be meaningful effected. it's not that the president needs popular opinion, needs 58% of americans to bring a prosecution. he doesn't have to win another election. but i think if the goal is to actually make sure that this never happens again, if the goal is to accomplish truth in this narrative and not just justice, that's where you're going to see pressure on not prosecuting as much generating more information, having a national conversation, get it to a point where my friend sebastian say that officers were acting in good faith. well, no, some of them weren't. >> quickly, isn't putting them under oath on the stand a tool towards finding out what their state of mind?
whether they were acting in good faith? >> not necessarily. if we even get that far, there is no suggestion that we will, they have a right not to testify. they have right to not provoke is self-incrimination, and if i was one of their lawyers i would encourage them to take it. is our goal to have a national conversation where americans realize whether or not torture is ever morally justified it is categorically prohibited in international law and that's the lesson going forward 37. >> we'll be back in a moment with more inside story. when we return a look at options for preventing the kind of abuse that exceeded legal authority and was hidden by over site. is complete disclosure and threat of punishment part of this process? stay with us. teach for america is supposed to educate poor children.
>> we're back with more inside story on al jazeera. i'm ray suarez. with us on this edition, karen greenberg said that tortures should be charged abouter but they have to be indicted first. how do people figure out to make sure that the truth comes out and learn the treatment of prisoners overseas. with us, our guests : >> professor, what is the best outcome. so that we make sure that the law gets followed in the future, and we understand what happened in the past. >> that pre-a supposes of utilitarian.
i'm not in favor of any torture. i feel it's unproductive and i would like to see you return to the technique we've had in the past, but this has become a political football. why is this being released now? they know that this committee will be controlled by the republican, and this unseemly fashion to get it out of the door as soon as possible. this does not serve the national interest. i would like to get this removed from the political sphere as soon as possible. let's have somebody investigate that, but let's not punish as was said the line officers, these are the people who will protect america, let's not maybe their jobs more difficult, and let's remove hyperbole from the disdiscussio discussion of say,
fingernails being pulled. no one's fingernails were pulled. let's stick with the report. >> we need a three-pillared approach. we need to look at structural reforms that will require very careful inquiry of why this happened, how this happened in order to rewrite laws and put in to place laws and institutions to make sure that it doesn't happen again. we need to explore compensation. people's rights from rye aggravated, and there may an requirement that we compensate them for that. thirdly, i feel we should have an investigation under the auspices of the department of justice, and see where that takes them rather than prejudge that process before it begins. >> steve, i'm going to finish with you. at the outset you said its likely that they could be
indicted but you weren't so sure that it would serve any purpose. if this is to have any good policy effect down the road, what has to happen now? >> i think we have to take the politics out of this. the way to do that is probably in this case not by prosecuting. not that the prosecutions would not be effective in punishing individuals, but it will reinforce the narrative that this is a left versus right issue. this cannot an left versus right issue. every time there is a scandal in american history the way we get over it is because the sides got together and recognized that this is actually beyond politics. >> how do you depoliticize it at this point in the game when almost every on one side and almost everyone on the other sidelines up neatly with political identity. >> the answer is you have to have people on both sides who say even though prosecutions are possible even when they may be successful, we have to swallow the pill and say going forward what we need is to find
consensus on what went wrong, on sebastians point on efficiency, and diane's point we have to find liability. the divide is not on torture but the divide is americans and nobody else because americans have come to decry this horrible act. >> this brings us to the end of this edition of inside story. the program may be over but the conversation continues. we want to hear what you think about today ac 's program. we'll see you for the next inside story. please join us again. in washington, i'm ray suarez.
o. >> on "america tonight": fallout from the torture report and the warnings it raises about those prisoners still in limbo at guantanamo bay. >> translator: that's not a prison. it's a kidnapping den because a prison needs some kind of law. >> why the shocking efforts of the u.s. to stop terrorism, raises new questions about what our country can do now to keep up the fight. also the fight for a more perfect union. the kentucky couple about a