Gorbachev tutors Obama: The book says

'Perestroika' or in English, 'restructuring.'

[Novosti, Russia]



Izvestia, Russia

U.S. and Torture: For Mr. Obama, It's 'Hard to Be Gorby'


"There are no legal loopholes in the Convention on Torture that would justify pushy investigators - that's just how it's written. ... On the other hand, a convention is a convention, whereas real-life is so much richer. Even in a conventional war that can be conducted more or less according to the rules, there are situations in which the talkativeness of a prisoner must be stimulated. 'I was just obeying orders-This is no defense' is considered universal, although life tells a different story."


By Maxim Sokolov


Translated By Yekaterina Blinova


April 23, 2009


Russia - Izvestia - Original Article (Russian)

President Obama shows off his own Florida Gators jersey as the NCAA champs visit the White House, April 23. Has the president undermined his image as a 'New Gorbachev?'


RUSSIA TODAY VIDEO: Russian analysis of the significance of the Obama Adminstration release of Bush era memos on Torture, aka 'harsh interrogation techniques,' Apr. 26, 00:02:36RealVideo

After Barack Obama was hailed as a new Gorbachev and a reformer, public opinion has fluctuated about whether he's a real Gorbachev or just an impostor - and about whether these incremental processes of perestroika [reform or restructuring] are reformist enough.


The latest doubts about Obama's Gorbachevian nature came after the U.S. president visited CIA headquarters [video below] and assured U.S. chekists [spies] that the administration "will be as vigorous in protecting you as you are vigorous in protecting the American people." What was meant was not at all to show a sympathetic attitude toward the chekists, but rather to address to a specific dispute: will chekists who (in accordance with orders from higher-ups) practiced "special techniques" - i.e. torture - during interrogations of people suspected of terrorism, be prosecuted or not?


The methods of interrogation employed at Guantanamo fit the definition of torture under U.N. Convention. Guantanamo is under the jurisdiction of the United States, and the Convention doesn't allow for circumstances that would excuse the use of special methods: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever may be invoked to justify torture, including war, threat of war, internal political instability, public emergency, terrorist acts, violent crime, or any form of armed conflict." There are no legal loopholes to justify pushy investigators - that is just how the convention is written.


CIA Director Leon Panetta listens as President Obama speaks

to Central Intelligence Agency employees at CIA headquarters



On the other hand, a convention is a convention, whereas real-life is so much richer. Even in a conventional war that can be conducted more or less according to the rules, there are situations (such as the capture of a potential "source" for example) in which the talkativeness of a prisoner must be stimulated - and everyone in the army who fights "for real" must impose such stimulation. In irregular warfare, which is the type of war the United States is conducting, it's even more difficult to imagine what methods not covered by the U.N. Convention the Americans might have used to smash the Islamist underground, to wrench out of its members names, passwords, meeting sites, etc. That's what former U.S. Vice President Cheney means when he points out that the special techniques were "successful." This is entirely possible. The use of torture during an investigation is generally conducted not for the sake of sadistic satisfaction, but for the sake of effectiveness.


It's another matter entirely that this doesn't mesh well with international conventions and with the goal of fighting for freedom in the world -  but also with the sacred (at least in words) principle that the phrase "I was just following orders" doesn't relieve one of responsibility.


"I was just obeying orders - This is no defense" is a principle established after 1945 and considered universal, although life tells a different story. In reality, this rule has been applied only to Nazi criminals. There the application of this rule had to do first with the fact that the criminal orders far exceeded anything hitherto known. Unlike mere deviations from ideal rules, which occur in all wars, the organized and mass destruction of non-combatants was without precedent in modern history.


Secondly, the entire top echelon of the Third Reich ended up in the next world - and any war criminal has the capacity to point a finger at the dead, who have no way of objecting. At that point, it was impossible to prosecute those who gave the orders. But there was also a third factor - a complete breakdown in continuity. The condition of post-WWII Germany was characterized by the expression "zero hour." So the question, "if we prosecute those who followed orders today, no one will follow them tomorrow" wasn't a significant consideration to the allies.



Publico, Spain: Torture Charges Filed Against Bush Legal Team; Judge Garzon Handles Case

Hurriyet, Turkey: Dick Cheney's Torture Logic is 'Deeply Offensive'

Die Tageszeitung, Germany: America and Torture: 'Just Following Orders'

Financial Times Deutschland, Germany: Obama: Inviting the Next Torture Scandal

Jornal de Noticias, Portugal: Poverty and Torture: Bush Has Company in Europe

Le Monde, France: 'Fussy' Rights Groups 'Wrong' to Be Impatient with Obama

Le Figaro, France: Obama's Moral Crusade: A Few Words of Caution

The Independent, U.K.: America Doesn't Need a Witch-Hunt

BBC News, U.K.: U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Calls CIA Exemption 'Illegal'

Ottawa Citizen, Canada: Torture the 'Chicago Way'

Toronto Star, Canada: Winking at CIA Abuse


Since the United States is not in a "zero hour" situation, such considerations are rather essential to the U.S. administration - which puts a natural limit on Obama's perestroika.


[Editor's Note: The author's point is that unlike the defunct Third Reich, since the United States continues to exist and needs people to follow orders - it cannot follow through and punish CIA officials that obeyed the command to carry out waterboarding and other illegal methods of interrogation].
















































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US April 27, 10:23pm]