Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ah - The Bush Administration. Did that really happen to us?

Before Obama was President, dreamacttexas would occasionally have problems.  We would get these weird gray boxes on some immigration posts, and a couple of times the blog became inaccessible.  It didn't make any sense.  But then, after Obama came in, things changed.  dreamacttexas no longer shows the gray boxes.  The blog no longer burps.  I wonder why.

Although Obama said he would not push to punish the Bush people for having tortured prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Graib, the bad stuff inevitably surfaced.  Today the papers said that Condi approved the torture.  Of course she would.  She was so cozy with Bush, she couldn't say no.  The others couldn't say no either.  It would be interesting to know why they agreed to such a terrible thing.  Was it pressure from Bush or Cheney? Was it some kind of black mail?  Or are they just bad people (outright malice)?

A detailed Congressional report on the Bush Administration on torture was released today.  Click here for link to entire report.
Senate implicates Bush aides in prisoner abuse

* Ewen MacAskill in Washington
*, Wednesday 22 April 2009 18.05 BST

A Senate inquiry published today directly implicates senior members of the Bush administration in the extensive use of harsh interrogation methods against al-Qaida suspects and other prisoners round the world.

The 232-page report, the most detailed investigation yet into the background of torture, undercuts the claim of the then deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, that the abuse of prisoners in Iraq was the work of "a few bad apples".

The report's release added to the debate raging within the US after Barack Obama, who regards the techniques as torture, opened the way for possible prosecution of members of the Bush administration.

Carl Levin, the Democratic chairman of the senate armed services committee, which ordered the inquiry, said today: "The paper trail on abuse leads to top civilian leaders, and our report connects the dots." The report shows a paper trail going from the then defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to Guantánamo to Afghanistan and to Iraq.

The report says: "The abuse of detainees in US 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 authorised their use against detainees."

The report reveals pressure for the adoption of more aggressive interrogation techniques came from the uppermost reaches of the Bush administration. Rumsfeld gave the go-ahead for the use of 15 interrogation techniques.

The mood within the administration at the time is caught in a handwritten note attached to a memo in December 2002 from Rumsfeld, on the use of stress positions. "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?" Rumsfeld asked.

The report, the result of an 18-month inquiry, reveals the administration rejected advice from various branches of the armed services against using more aggressive techniques. The military questioned both the morality and the reliability of information gained.

The report condemns the techniques adopted: "Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority."

The report discloses that waterboarding and other techniques used were based on a faulty premise. The methods were lifted from a military programme known as Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (Sere) but the armed forces pointed out that this was intended to train troops in resisting torture rather than establishing whether these were useful interrogation methods.

Bush administration memos released by Obama last week were confined to interrogations at Guantánamo and CIA secret prisons round the world, but the senate report goes wider, including prisons run by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report could reopen the Abu Ghraib cases, involving sentenced military prison staff who claimed that authorisation for the techniques came from higher up. Colonel Janis Karpinski, an army reserve brigadier general demoted because of prisoner abuses at the jail in Iraq, said the Senate report backed claims that staff became "scapegoats" for the US interrogation policies.

The report says that Sere instructors trained CIA and other military personnel early in 2002 on the use of harsher interrogation techniques but warned that information obtained might be unreliable.

The internal debate also suggests that the definition of what was acceptable was flexible. The report notes that a senior CIA official attended a meeting of staff at Guantánamo in 2002. The minutes tell of a discussion of interrogation techniques, and the official saying that the legal statutes were vague. "It is basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong," the official said.

In a separate development, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, giving evidence to the House foreign affairs committee, further stirred up the debate with the former vice-president, Dick Cheney, saying he should not be regarded as a "reliable source" on torture. Cheney has being saying that classified memos he has seen show that valuable information was obtained through the harsher interrogation techniques.

Obama's head of intelligence, Dennis Blair, appeared to concur with Cheney in a memo released last week but his assessment was blacked out. link to Guardian article

No comments: