Award-winning Investigative Journalist Robert Parry (1949-2018)

Award-winning investigative journalist and founder/editor of, Robert Parry has passed away. His ground-breaking work uncovering Reagan-era dirty wars in Central America and many other illegal and immoral policies conducted by successive administrations and U.S. intelligence agencies, stands as an inspiration to all in journalists working in the public interest.

Robert had been a regular guest on our Between The Lines and Counterpoint radio shows -- and many other progressive outlets across the U.S. over four decades.

His penetrating analysis of U.S. foreign policy and international conflicts will be sorely missed, and not easily replaced. His son Nat Parry writes a tribute to his father: Robert Parry’s Legacy and the Future of Consortiumnews.

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Human Rights Groups Pursue Indictment of George W. Bush for Authorizing Torture

Posted Feb. 16, 2011

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Interview with Claire Tixeire, jurist and legal researcher with the Center for Constitutional Rights, conducted by Scott Harris

bushtorture Although George W. Bush has been out of office since January 2009, human rights groups in America and around the world are working to hold the former U.S. president accountable for what many international law scholars believe to be human rights abuses and war crimes. Two torture victims had planned to file criminal complaints in Geneva Switzerland on behalf of the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights on Feb. 7, naming President Bush as responsible for authorizing their torture, including waterboarding, while in U.S. custody. The filing of the complaints was to coincide with Bush's scheduled trip to Switzerland on Feb. 12, as Swiss law requires that a person being charged with torture must be present in the country before an investigation can be opened. However, at the last moment, the former president cancelled his trip to Switzerland, presumably due to the legal case being filed against him.

Although Bush's cancelled trip to Switzerland derailed the planned preliminary indictment, the human rights groups involved in preparing the complaints announced that their 42-page legal document, including 2,500 pages of supporting material, could be used against President Bush in his future travels abroad. Under terms of the U.N. Convention Against Torture, all signatories of the treaty -- including the U.S. -- are obligated to prosecute anyone present in their territory if there is evidence supporting allegations that an individual has committed torture. President Bush has proudly admitted in press interviews that he authorized waterboarding of U.S.-held terrorist suspects.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Claire Tixeire, a jurist and legal researcher with the Center for Constitutional Rights. She explains the basis for the Bush torture indictment and plans by human rights groups to pursue the case around the world.

CLAIRE TIXEIRE: The evidence that we have is actually quite impressive. It's a very straightforward and easy case. There have been hundreds of pages of declassified reports that have shed light on how George W. Bush authorized the CIA secret detention program; on how he shaped those policies; on how he authorized personally and condoned enhanced interrogation techniques. We have testimonies, we have international reports. But most importantly, in Bush's case, we have his own acknowledgment that he authorized torture. He has said in his memoir that was released in November, that he personally, when he was asked by the CIA if he would authorize them to proceed to waterboarding of a detainee, he writes in his book that he replied, "Damn right, I do."

The detainee was subsequently waterboarded 183 times in one month. And then other detainees were subjected to waterboarding and ultimately that also paved the way for even more abuses. Waterboarding is torture. There is not a doubt that it is torture. Today, even the Obama administration fully recognizes that waterboarding is torture. So you have the former president of the United States, saying, "Yes, I did authorize torture." He also said it on TV on Primetime during his interview back in November. And you know, we have a lot of other documents establishing his personal, criminal responsibility. You know, exactly nine years ago, on Feb. 7, 2002, George Bush signed a memo in which he decided that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the Taliban or al Qaeda detainees, including the clause that prohibits inhumane treatment, an act of torture. And that, the Senate itself, in a bipartisan committee report has found that memo did pave the way for the abuses of detainees in the war on terror. But now as the evidence keeps on coming out, it's even worse than that, I mean, he personally authorized and condoned waterboarding and other acts of torture. So it's a pretty straightforward case, unfortunately.

BETWEEN THE LINES: What has been the reaction of the Obama administration since they took office in 2009 in terms of complaints about human rights abuses by U.S. officials, including George W. Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as well as some of the attorneys that were advising the White House, like John Yoo? What has been the Obama administration's reaction to calls for investigations and prosecution?

CLAIRE TIXEIRE: The Obama administration, since 2009, has repeatedly said, with regards to prosecution of these crimes perpetrated by American officials, "We want to look forward; we do not want to look backwards." And they have decided not to initiate any serious investigation into the criminal responsibility of higher-ups. There's been one special prosecutor appointed to look at a very, very narrow group of possible abuses perpetrated basically by "actors" -- you know, officials -- on the ground; that mandate of the investigation is so narrow that never will it go up the chain of command and never will it go looking at the actual torture program. That is unbelievable.

And more than that, the WikiLeaks revelation last December having to do with something really even more confusing and more than disappointing -- it revealed that the embassy of the United States in Madrid did all it could in 2009 under the Obama presidency to block two pending proceedings in Spain that were looking at the responsibility of Bush administration officials authorizing torture at Guantanamo and elsewhere. So, it's one thing to not start an investigation in your own country; it's another to even block efforts in other countries. And that's actually directly hurting the independence of justice in that country, which is yet another crime in of itself.

BETWEEN THE LINES: What are the next steps for these international human rights groups when it comes to holding Bush administration officials accountable?

CLAIRE TIXEIRE: Well, the document that we have publicly released that we call "The Indictment for Torture for Bush" is a living document that we are going to be updating and strengthening. And we're going to be looking at where Bush is traveling next. He's scheduled to go to Canada next October. So, we're going to be working with Canadian groups and seeing what can be done over there. But we're also looking at other Bush administration officials like (Dick) Cheney, Rumsfeld, or (George) Tenet as well as the administration's lawyers, John Yoo, (David) Addington or Jay Bybee. And we have those cases ready for them and we will pursue accountability wherever and whenever we can.

Learn more about the case against former President Bush by visiting the group's website at

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