Since February 2007

John Sifton notes a vital fact about the devastating International Red Cross report, ending any empirical doubt that the last president was a war criminal:

Note in particular the report’s date, February 14, 2007Valentine’s Day. On that date, the U.S. government was put on notice about the allegations of CIA torture. (The ICRC also wrote to the U.S. governments about the issue of disappearances at several points in 2003-2006.)

Under international lawthe Geneva Conventions, the Convention against Torture, and basic precepts of customary international lawthe United States has a positive obligation to investigate and prosecute persons alleged to have committed torture and other violations of the laws of war. As of Valentine’s Day 2007, and possibly earlier, the U.S. government was obligated to investigate and prosecute the abuses detailed in the report. The United States’ failure to do so is a recurring breach of international law.

The refusal to investigate serious Red Cross allegations of unequivocal torture by the US government is itself a breach of the Geneva Conventions. Which means to say that the president has no neutral ground on which to stand in order to ignore or move on from the war crimes he inherited. If Obama does not at a minimum release all the relevant documents regarding the torture program of his predecessors, he will be an accomplice to it. This really is a place where there can be no middle ground if the US is to remain in Geneva and under the rule of law.