Just as President Barack Obama has refused to prosecute any of the bankers and swindlers responsible for the 2007-08 financial collapse, he has likewise refused to prosecute any of the Bush-Cheney Administration officials responsible for the torture and abuse of prisoners carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan—even though, in the past, the United States has always treated such practices as war crimes.
Columnist Glenn Greenwald, now writing in Britain’s Guardian, notes that Obama’s “aggressive, full-scale whitewashing of the ‘war on terror’ crimes committed by Bush officials is now complete” with Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement last week that the last two torture-death cases from the Bush-Cheney era have been closed without prosecution.
But Greenwald goes on to point out that Obama, in giving total immunity to Bush-era officials for war crimes, is also hoping that this will apply to him. Greenwald quotes from a New York Times article by Charlie Savage in December 2008, on the prospect of torture investigations aimed at Bush officials, who observed: “Because every President eventually leaves office, incoming chief executives have an incentive to quash investigations into their predecessor’s tenure.” Comments Greenwald: “In other words, Obama is motivated to shield Bush officials from accountability for their crimes in the hope that once Obama leaves office, he, too, will be gifted identical immunity from the rule of law.”
The two cases closed by the Justice Department last week were the final two remaining from a review of over 100 cases of severe prisoner abuse undertaken by the Justice Department in the summer of 2009. Holder was under tremendous pressure to cover up all the Bush-Cheney crimes; the whitewash policy had been announced by Obama as soon as the 2008 elections were over: that he opposed any investigations or prosecutions, under the excuse that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards” (that same policy that he has applied to Wall Street’s and London’s financial crimes). In announcing his policy of immunity, Obama declared: “[N]othing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past … we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.”
Greenwald pointed out that Obama’s blocking of any prosecutions (he’s even tried to do it in other countries such as Spain and Germany) is despite the findings of Gen. Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib torture practices, and who said during the Bush-Cheney regime that “there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes,” and that “the only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.” And, Greenwald adds, “it is done even in the face of General Barry McCaffrey’s extraordinary observation that ‘We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the CIA.'”
The two cases that Obama and Holder closed last week involved Gul Rahman, who froze to death in a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan known as the “Salt Pit” in 2002, after he was beaten, stripped, and then shackled to a cement wall in freezing temperatures, and the 2003 death of Manadel al-Jamadi at Abu Ghraib, who died after he was beaten, stripped, had cold water poured on him, and then shackled to the wall. His ice-packed body was photographed and displayed as part of the infamous Abu Ghraib photos. Overall, more than 100 prisoners died in U.S. custody during the first years of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — which is OK by that mass killer Barack Obama.