The Guardian, basing itself on a soon-to-be-published book by Philippe Sands (Torture Team) reveals that torture was implemented at Guantanamo Bay in the face of opposition from Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, by White House lawyers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington and William Haynes, as well as Jay Bybee and John Yoo, (two assistant attorney generals). (See also Sands’ article in Vanity Fair, which points the finger at the very top of the White House.)
Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, is quoted as saying that the perpetrators of torture could well be arrested and tried in other countries as war criminals if they travel abroad. It is an index of the despotism to which the United States has fallen victim that we must hope for other, more civilized countries, to try our war criminals. Why can’t public officials be prosecuted for violating the Bill of Rights’ guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment? Why can’t an International Military Tribunal be set up as at Nuremberg?
So not only did the Bush administration use the Pentagon to snow the American people via retired generals, but one of the things they were concerned to cover up was the major practice of torture at Guantanamo. They took it off the national agenda.
There were lots of innocents swept up by Rumsfeld’s vacuum cleaner at Guantanamo. (See this new memoir from Palgrave Macmillan) The Bush administration resists this conclusion and has even said it would not release prisoners found innocent! The Taliban used to sell people to the Americans, and would often finger innocents; it got the Taliban out of trouble and could even be lucrative. A handful of Iraqi Shiites who had escaped to Afghanistan from Saddam, the poor bastards, were then turned over to the Americans as dangerous terrorists by their Sunni enemies. I don’t know if they were ever released, even though the US then allied with Iraqi Shiites to overthrow Saddam!
Although there are some terrorists at Guantanamo, torturing them was not only illegal but also a very bad idea. Under torture, Ibn al-Shaykh Libi told the US that Saddam Hussein had training camps in Iraq used to school al-Qaeda in the use of chemical weapons. Dick Cheney and Condi Rice both cited this false confession as a reason to go to war against Iraq.
While UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray discovered the ways in which the US and its satellites were using torture to manufacture stories about al-Qaeda threats that did not exist, as a means of rounding up people and torturing them into admitting they were al-Qaeda, which in turn justified US bases, more billions for the military industrial complex, etc.