What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 22, 2009

The Report

The Senate Armed-Services Committee issued a report today. It's title is "Inquiry to the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody" and it describes what was done in our name.

From the Executive Summary:
The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of "a few bad apples" acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority. This report is a product of the Committee's inquiry into how those unfortunate results came about.
Senator Levin says of the report:
Today we're releasing the declassified report of the Senate Armed Services Committee's investigation into the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. The report was approved by the Armed Services Committee on November 20, 2008 and has, in the intervening period, been under review at the Department of Defense for declassification.

In my judgment, the report represents a condemnation of both the Bush administration's interrogation policies and of senior administration officials who attempted to shift the blame for abuse - such as that seen at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan - to low ranking soldiers. Claims, such as that made by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz that detainee abuses could be chalked up to the unauthorized acts of a "few bad apples," were simply false.

The truth is that, early on, it was senior civilian leaders who set the tone. On September 16, 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney suggested that the United States turn to the "dark side" in our response to 9/11. Not long after that, after White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales called parts of the Geneva Conventions "quaint," President Bush determined that provisions of the Geneva Conventions did not apply to certain detainees. Other senior officials followed the President and Vice President's lead, authorizing policies that included harsh and abusive interrogation techniques.

And from McClatchy:
The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.
And because there was no link, the interrogations got harsher.

Investigate torture. It's the law.

1 comment:

Clyde Wynant said...

Smarter people than I have certainly posited this already, but it dawns on me that Obama is being "crazy like a fox" when it comes to the torture issue.

It appears to me that he is going to let the "will of the people" force his hand. Instead of directly standing up and saying, "These Bush guys were all scum and we're going to prosecute them now!," he is simply releasing the necessary memos which will create enough public and political furor so that he'll HAVE to have Holder appoint a Special Prosecutor or two or some variation on that.

What this does is allow the Pres to stand above it all. He can publicly state that he wants to "look forward," while he full well knows that something is indeed going to be done. And, in the end, it's potentially a win-win. If the investigation gets bogged down, he can claim it wasn't his idea, but if it bears fruit and some of the Bushies take a fall, Obama can step in and claim victory.

Pretty sweet....if indeed that is the plan :-)