From Joanne Mariner at Findlaw:
" A landmark trial is scheduled to begin this week, in which a senior government official is accused of responsibility for vicious acts of torture committed in the name of fighting terrorism.
Alas, the defendant is not one of the many Bush Administration officials who so richly deserve their moment in the dock. But the trial does mark the first application of a federal law criminalizing extraterritorial acts of torture--a law that could someday be used to prosecute "war on terror" abuses.
Passport Fraud and Torture
The defendant in this case, Charles "Chuckie" Taylor, Jr., is the Boston-born son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, himself facing trial before an international court in The Hague. An American citizen, Chuckie Taylor was taken into U.S. custody in March 2006, when he attempted to enter the United States at Miami airport. He arrived in Miami the day after his father was handed over to the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone on charges of orchestrating violence in Sierra Leone's bloody civil war.
Chuckie Taylor was initially charged with passport fraud, for lying about his father's identity on his passport application. Later in the year, after pressure from human rights groups, he was indicted on charges of torture, conspiracy to torture, and using a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. Subsequent indictments included an added count of conspiracy to use a firearm during a crime of violence...
The Taylor prosecution is important and encouraging. Yet one cannot help but wonder whether torture is only considered deplorable when carried out by African warlords and their thuggish offspring. Were the Justice Department to announce a case involving U.S. counterterrorism abuses, the values expressed in the Extraterritorial Torture Statute would seem more secure."