Prosecute Jose Rodriguez for violating the anti-torture statute (18 U.S.C. § 2340A).
He did it. Enjoyed doing it. And would do it again.
Rodriguez admitted on 60 Minutes that he organized, ordered, and destroyed evidence of "enhanced interrogation techniques." Yesterday's 60 Minutes featured CIA rendition-supporter/torture proponent/videotape destroyer Jose Rodriguez, giving him a platform to pimp his new book, Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives, which discusses CIA black sites and touts torture. (It should not be lost on anyone that Simon & Schuster gave Rodriguez a book contract, 60 Minutes gave Rodriguez a main-stream-media platform, and CBS owns both Simon & Schuster and 60 Minutes.)
Despite Rodriguez admitting his crimes on national television, the only person the Obama administration has criminally prosecuted in connection with the Bush-era torture program is John Kiriakou, who refused to participate in torture and blew the whistle on waterboarding.
How can we be a nation of laws when a former government official can proudly boast about his criminal behavior on national television without consequence?
Rodriguez's callous descriptions of torture do not make his behavior any less criminal:
We made some al Qaeda terrorists with American blood on their hands uncomfortable for a few days.
Rodriguez adopts the Nixonian "logic:" "if the President approves it, it's not illegal." This shouldn't save him from prosecution. "No one is above the law" – at least that is what Attorney General Holder told the Senate under oath during his confirmation hearings. Moreover, despite Rodriguez's stubborn re-naming waterboarding an "enhanced interrogation technique," there is no credible debate about whether waterboarding is torture. We can thank Attorney General Holder for that as well, as he unequivocally agreed under oath that "waterboarding is torture."
Waterboarding is torture, and torture is illegal, and it violates more than just the statute specifically prohibiting torture.
In addition to the torture statute:
- The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
- The War Crimes Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. § 2441) makes it a criminal offense for U.S. military personnel and U.S. nationals to commit war crimes as specified in the 1949 Geneva Conventions. That includes Common Article 3, which prohibits "[v]iolence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture; . . . [and] outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment."
Rodriguez admitted his crimes on national television. Surely that is enough for the Justice Department to begin a prosecution, especially considering that that the Justice Department has spent millions of dollars hunting down news sources who exposed government illegalities, investigating how Guantanamo detainees found out the names of their torturers, and prosecuting whistleblowers. Contact Attorney General Holder and ask him to prosecute Rodriguez: 202-353-1555.
Then, instead of reading Rodriguez's torture-apologist swill, read Ali Soufan's The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda. Soufan recently won the Ridenhour Book Prize for The Black Banners, which offers a reasoned, first-hand experience account of interrogation and articulates beautifully the advantages of rapport-building (NON-torture) techniques in obtaining actionable intelligence from even the most hardened suspects.
Too often the Obama administration answers calls for accountability with "look forward not backward." I submit that if Rodriguez wants to "look backward" to sell books, then the Obama administration should look back to prosecute Rodriguez for his admitted crimes.
Jesselyn Radack is National Security & Human Rights Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.