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"Torture at Guantánamo was sanctioned by the most senior advisers to the president, the vice president, and the secretary of defense, according to the international lawyer and professor of law at University College London Philippe Sands, who has conducted a forensic examination of the chain of command leading from the top of the administration to the camp at Guantánamo," Vanity Fair will report on newstands today.
The article directly contradicts the administration’s account to Congress, which placed responsibility on military commanders and interrogators on the ground for the practices banned by the Geneva Conventions.
Sands reports that these senior advisers face a real risk of criminal investigation if they set foot outside the United States, despite the Military Commissions Act, signed into law by President Bush in 2006. The hitch is that their immunity is good only within U.S. borders, and rather than protecting them, the act may lead to an eventual investigation by foreign governments. For some, the future may hold “a tap on the shoulder.” Sands consulted a judge and prosecutor in a major European city, both of whom are familiar with these sorts of cases. The prosecutor called the act “very stupid,” explaining that it would make it much easier for investigators outside the U.S. to argue that possible war crimes would never be addressed in their home country. “It’s a matter of time,” the judge told Sands. “And then something unexpected happens, when one of these lawyers travels to the wrong place.”