Author and constitutional rights activist Michael Ratner be honored this week as the seventh winner of the Nation Institute/ Puffin Foundation award for “creative citizenship.”
“I like the description,” he told AlterNet in an interview from his New York home. “It’s for taking on the status quo in a socially responsible way and in a way that required taking a risk. For me it’s not the personal aspect, it’s the acknowledgment that you have to take risks in this very difficult country if you want to make any real progress.”
Ratner is the author, along with Ellen Ray, of the book Guantanamo: What the World Should Know. He was interviewed also recently by Paul Jay at The Real News. Click here to see that chat on constitutional powers.
In the AlterNet interview, Ratner argues that while Pres. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney have been left off of court papers as defendants to any number of injustices enumerated by Ratner’s organization, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and other groups, when they leave office all bets are off.
Here’s a snippet of the interview that has raised some eyebrows on the Internet(s):
Holland: Might this go as high as George W. Bush himself?
Ratner: Well, we didn’t name Bush or Cheney in any of these cases because they, as current office holdersâ€”as essentially heads of stateâ€”have immunity from national courts. They wouldn’t be immune from a U.N. court, if there were ever a kind of Nuremberg Tribunalâ€”but they are from national courts. So while we have them named as unindicted co-conspirators, we don’t list them as actual defendants. But we certainly will, afterwards, and …
Holland: Wait, let me make sure I got that. You’re saying that after 2009â€”January of 2009â€”you will be adding them to the complaints?
Ratner: Oh, absolutely. They’re on the hook then. And it’s going to be a hot world for them, because the world knows thisâ€”this is an emperor’s new clothes situation, because everyone in the world knows that the U.S. is running a torture program. You have to remember, this wasn’t kept secret. And in my view, it was purposely exposed either because there was a desire to get vengeance, or because of machismo, or just to say to the Muslim world: “If you fall into our hands, we’re going to take you to Guantanamo and we’re going to torture you” as a way of controlling that population. It’s been done intentionally and openly, and they’ve gotten the American public, somehow, to go along with it. They’ve convinced many people that they’re safer, or that these are just a bunch of Muslims, and we don’t give a damn what happens to them.
Another reason for those countdown clocks to January 20, 2009.