So Dahlia Lithwick and Philippe Sands say that “the Susan Crawford interview” — in which the “convening authority of the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay” says straightforwardly that prisoners there have been tortured — “changes everything.” Why? Because “whether torture occurred and who was responsible will no longer be issues behind which senior members of the administration and their lawyers and policymakers can hide. The only real issue now is: What happens next?”
Also, they claim, “Under the 1984 Torture Convention, its 146 state parties (including the United States) are under an obligation to ‘ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law,'” and thus “For the Obama administration, the door to the do-nothing option is now closed.”
As someone who believes that torture has indeed taken place at Guantanomo, and that prosecutions of responsible parties should at least be considered, I’m not on the other side of the fence from Lithwick and Sands on the substance of the issue. But their essay makes no sense to me. Why can't “senior members of the administration and their lawyers and policymakers” simply say “We disagree with Susan Crawford”? And why couldn't the Obama administration say that it’s not absolutely clear to them that torture was committed and on those grounds take “the do-nothing option”?
I don't see that the Susan Crawford interview changes anything, much less everything. Am I missing something?