CNN's Rick Sanchez 'Making News' on Supposed Torture Case Against Rumsfeld?

Rick Sanchez, CNN Anchor; & Manfred Nowak, United Nations Special Investigator on Torture | NewsBusters.orgOn Monday’s Newsroom program, anchor Rick Sanchez trumpeted a United Nations investigator’s apparent finding against Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld concerning torture: “...[W]e’re making news here, because I just heard you on the record say that there does seem to be enough evidence to be able to make a case against Donald Rumsfeld specifically.” He also asked why Rumsfeld had been “singled out [and] not Cheney [or] Alberto Gonzalez?”

Sanchez had Manfred Nowak, the United Nations special investigator on torture, as a guest beginning at the bottom half of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. He introduced Nowak by reading a quote by the investigator himself: “The government of the United States is required to take all necessary steps to bring George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld before a court.” Sanchez highlighted how the statement “isn’t being said by just anyone. This is being said, again, by Mr. Nowak, who is the United Nations special investigator on torture -- specific enough and important enough for us to have him on to talk about this now.”

During the initial segment, there were audio difficulties with the feed from Nowak, who appeared via video phone. Sanchez stopped the interview after the second question and again underlined the apparent importance of Nowak’s finding: “We’re going to try and reschedule this and see if we can just get you on a better contact, if we can. If we can do it before the end of this newscast, we will. If not, we’ll try to reschedule this for tomorrow, because it’s an important conversation that obviously needs to be heard by a whole lot of people. My thanks again to Manfred Nowak for the valiant effort.”

The audio issues were apparently resolved quickly, as Nowak was back during the following segment. Sanchez asked the U.N. investigator, “So what happens if the Obama administration says...we’ve got bigger problems in this country than to deal with whatever my -- the past administration did, we’re not going to do it, we’re not going to get involved in that, we’re going to leave it alone. Is he violating any laws, any principles? What would happen then?” Nowak replied, “I would say the first obligation is to really investigate -- have an independent investigation about what happened during this eight years of the so-called war against terror.”

The CNN anchor then reworded his question: “If there were requirements and obligations and they are ignored by the Obama administration -- you as the investigator of torture around the world, as one of the foremost authorities on torture around the world -- what will you do? Where will you take this?” Nowak invoked one of President Obama’s buzz words in his answer: “I will remind the United States of America of its obligations and I will try to convince them that they should live up to these obligations, and President Obama has made it very clear that he wants change, and that means also that he wishes to comply with international human rights obligations.”

Sanchez concluded his interview of Nowak by asking if torture charges could be brought up against other Bush administration officials: “One final question, sir: why [are] President Bush and Rumsfeld singled out? Why not Cheney? Why not Alberto Gonzalez?” The U.N. investigator denied singling out Bush, despite Sanchez’s earlier quote, which Harper’s magazine also had picked up on:
NOWAK: I have not singled out President Bush. I only have said the U.S. has an obligation to investigate....[I]n our report that we sent to the United Nations, we made it clear that Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld clearly authorized torture methods, and he was told at that time by Alberto Mora, the leading counsel of the Navy -- Mr. Secretary, what you are actually ordering here amounts to torture. So there we have the clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing, but nevertheless, he ordered torture, and that’s why there is strong evidence. I have not said anything about President Bush, and others....”

The transcript of the second segment of Rick Sanchez’s interview of Manfred Nowak, which began 37 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour of Monday’s Newsroom program:

RICK SANCHEZ: So what happens if the Obama administration says look, we’ve got too many -- much bigger fish to fry, we’ve got bigger problems in this country than to deal with whatever my -- the past administration did, we’re not going to do it, we’re not going to get involved in that, we’re going to leave it alone. Is he violating any laws, any principles? What would happen then?

NOWAK: I mean -- I would say the first obligation is to really investigate -- have an independent investigation about what happened during this eight years of the so-called war against terror. Then --

SANCHEZ: Who? The United States? But who would have that investigation -- the United States, its Congress, or would it be an international board?

NOWAK: It is the United States of America. How they do it is up to them -- it can be a congressional investigation. It can be a special investigator. There are various ways and means to find out the truth. And the next step is then to see what kind of consequences. One is, for instance, that the victims of torture have a right to reparation. That is as important as -- then look into the individual perpetrators and to bring them to justice. But all this are requirements [sic], obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

SANCHEZ: You keep coming back to the word [sic] requirements and obligations. If there were requirements and obligations and they are ignored by the Obama administration -- you as the investigator of torture around the world, as one of the foremost authorities on torture around the world -- what will you do? Where will you take this?

NOWAK: I will remind the United States of America of its obligations and I will try to convince them that they should live up to these obligations, and President Obama has made it very clear that he wants change, and that means also that he wishes to comply with international human rights obligations.

SANCHEZ: If what you are saying is true, by the way, does the United -- does the United Nations war crimes tribunal not also have a responsibility to investigate and prosecute U.S. officials?

NOWAK: No, because the United States has not ratified the Statute of the International Criminal Court, and that’s why the International Criminal Court is not competent unless U.S. citizens are found to have tortured or committed other -- and these are really serious crimes against humanity or war crimes in another country that has ratified the Statute of the ICC. So in this case, when we are talking about Guantanamo Bay, this is under United States jurisdiction, and the ICC is not competent. It is up to the domestic authorities to investigate, and if they find enough evidence of torture, to also prosecute.

SANCHEZ: Once again, this is an exclusive interview with Manfred Nowak, one of the foremost experts on torture around the world. One final question, sir: why [are] President Bush and Rumsfeld singled out? Why not Cheney? Why not Alberto Gonzalez?

NOWAK: No, no --

SANCHEZ: Go ahead.

NOWAK: I have not singled out President Bush. I only have said the U.S. has an obligation to investigate. I think, first and foremost, to look at the individuals who have tortured -- where you have evidence -- but then you have to look into who ordered this. And we have clear evidence, and in our report that we sent to the United Nations, we made it clear that Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld clearly authorized torture methods, and he was told at that time by Alberto Mora, the leading counsel of the Navy -- Mr. Secretary, what you are actually ordering here amounts to torture. So there we have the clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing, but nevertheless, he ordered torture, and that’s why there is strong evidence. I have not said anything about President Bush, and others. Of course, Alberto Gonzalez also condoned it by -- because from his department, there were various memoranda which actually undermined the absolute prohibition of torture by defining torture in a very, very narrow sense, which was not in accordance with the definition of torture within the United Nations convention. So there [is] more, but that is up to the United States prosecution -- investigation authorities, and finally, the U.S. courts, to find out to what extent they have enough evidence to actually convict any direct torturer or those who ordered or condoned torture.

SANCHEZ: Well -- but we’re making news here, because I just heard you on the record say that there does seem to be enough evidence to be able to make a case against Donald Rumsfeld specifically. Manfred Nowak, U.N. special investigator -- foremost expert on torture around the word -- my thanks to you, sir, for taking time to talk to us.

NOVAK: Thanks very much. Have a nice day. 

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center