McClatchy and other reporters are abruptly pulling the curtain away from the Bush team’s illegal practices in arresting people arbitrarily, declining to offer proof that they were guilty of anything, detaining them indefinitely without trial or charges, and deliberately torturing them to the extent of leaving long-term scars and disabilities. The torture practices originated not with lower-level officers but with Donald Rumsfeld and others in Bush’s inner circle, who then later blamed lower-level officials for developing the ideas that Rumsfeld ordered them to develop. Nothing they have done has survived a court challenge where one has been permitted.
Recent reports, taken together, provide a chilling glimpse of a vast torture operation, deliberately planned out by serial torturers in Bush’s White House and possibly by the president himself. The program was designed to repeal the Geneva Conventions, which the US and Israel have long found inconvenient, even though they were legislated to prevent futher abuses such as those of the Nazis. AP interviews with former detainees show that they were systematically tortured and sometimes permanently injured.
A Senate report details the evidence that Rumsfeld and other high officials were complicit in ordering torture. That is, they are war criminals.
The Bush administration committed clear war crimes at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram, according to Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba. The only question, he says, is whether anyone will be held accountable.
The Underscretary of Defense for Planning, Douglas Feith abruptly pulled out of his testimony on Capitol Hill about torture techniques, apparently because he was afraid to testify in the same session as Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff of Colin Powell. Wilkerson was high enough to hear the real story on a lot of issues and could have shredded Feith’s lies into confetti if they testified together.
CIA counterterrorism lawyer Jonathan Fredson appears to have argued that virtually anything short of lethal force was permitted. He told the Pentagon that torture “is basically subject to perception.” He did admit the principle that “If the detainee dies, you’re doing it wrong.”
Then there is the McClatchy series, based on extensive interviews with dozens of released former detainees from Guantanamo and Bagram:
“The framework under which detainees were imprisoned for years without charges at Guantanamo and in many cases abused in Afghanistan wasn’t the product of American military policy or the fault of a few rogue soldiers. It was largely the work of five White House, Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers who, following the orders of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, reinterpreted or tossed out the U.S. and international laws that govern the treatment of prisoners in wartime, according to former U.S. defense and Bush administration officials.”
A lot of Bush’s detainees had no connection to international terrorism. Some had even fought the Taliban, been captured, and then were sold to the Americans by the Taliban, who had in the meantime changed turbans and begun pretending to be loyal to Karzai.
At Afghan bases, the US military routinely practiced torture on prisoners.
In fact, the US torture turned some innocent detainees into terrorists, determining them to attack the US on their release.
Aljazeera International interviews McClatchy reporters, who spent a year tracking down and interviewing former detainees.
and Part II:
The tendency of the bureaucracy to experiment on human guinea pigs reached beyond the torture of detainees to mentally distressed Veterans. The Veterans Administration experimented on them with pharmaceuticals, without their knowledge. The VA neglected to tell them the drug they were being fed had serious side effects, including “anxiety, nervousness, tension, depression, thoughts of suicide, and attempted and completed suicide.” Oh, yeah, that’s what a person who has been through hell in Iraq and has post-traumatic stress really needs.
So all these revelations should be on cable news 24/7, right? Not so much.
As Gen. Taguba says, the fact of the extensive torture is not in doubt. The question is whether the Bushies will get away with it. It is looking as though they will. But there are going to be some European countries where Bush and his cronies would be ill advised to visit.