Following the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture, Ali Watkins poses the most pertinent of questions when she asks, “What Now?” Unfortunately, with her going on to point out that the report fails to suggest any legal action against either the CIA officials who committed the worst abuses, or those in the Bush administration who instigated and are ultimately responsible for the implementation of the programme, she is implicitly answering her own question. Nothing will happen to the criminals and, in all probability, nothing will change. The same general apathy which greeted a number of publications and articles, including Philippe Sands book, ‘Torture Team’, which exposed these crimes can ultimately be expected, The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report is not news. This is something we have known about for a long time.
Therefore, while Jeff Schweitzer quite rightly states that “George Bush and Dick Cheney should be tried as war criminals”, neither they, nor a long list of “Mitlaufer, including, of course, a certain Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, will be. Indeed, with the crimes still being committed, how can they be? That is the real problem, for while a long list of atrocities and interference in other nations, might indicate that the United States has always had a scant regard for international law, what we in fact had with Rumsfeld signing and approving the ‘Haynes Memo’ were the beginnings of an official policy which would lead to the recommendation of practices that contravened not only Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention, but also went far beyond what the military interrogators bible, ‘US Army Field Manual’ 34-52′, allowed (Sands, 2008:7). In other words, what we now have is torture as official US policy.
Of course, this official policy has not been implemented in isolation and not only are we in the West less free than we were a decade ago, something which is all too obvious at least since the publication of the NSA files, but we are also living in the shadow of permanent illegal wars of aggression. The tortures, the spies, the war criminals, are in our midst and if only we could only find a better answer to Ali Watkins’ question, “What Now?” If we could, the world would ultimately be a far better place..