Categories
Open Thread Politics

Enhanced Interrogation

Recently, John McCain has been talking up the “crosses in the dirt” incident during his time as a prisoner of war. He then talks about his “long time standing” which was painful. As a prisoner of war, John McCain was beaten, refused medical treatment, forced into “stress positions” and sleep deprived. McCain supporters want us to believe that this is torture.

According to Erik Saar, author of “Inside the Wire”, sleep deprivation, long time standing, beatings and forced stress positions were common techniques used during interrogation of “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo.

Andrew Sullivan, at the Daily Dish, has this to say:

According to the Bush administration’s definition of torture, McCain was therefore not tortured.

Cheney denies that McCain was tortured; as does Bush. So do John Yoo and David Addington and George Tenet. In the one indisputably authentic version of the story of a Vietnamese guard showing compassion, McCain talks of the agony of long-time standing. A quarter century later, Don Rumsfeld was putting his signature to memos lengthening the agony of “long-time standing” that victims of Bush’s torture regime would have to endure. These torture techniques are, according to the president of the United States, merely “enhanced interrogation.”

No war crimes were committed against McCain. And the techniques used are, according to the president, tools to extract accurate information. And so the false confessions that McCain was forced to make were, according to the logic of the Bush administration, as accurate as the “intelligence” we have procured from “interrogating” terror suspects. Feel safer?

(emphasis is mine)

So who are we to believe? McCain? The Bush administration? Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey doesn’t think that waterboarding is torture. The Bush Administration considers all of these forms of torture to be nothing more than forms of “enhanced interrogation”.

(Video of waterboarding)

By using the “new” and “improved” definitions of “enhanced interrogation”, John McCain was NOT tortured by his captors. The Vietnamese were merely using “enhanced interrogation” techniques. I’m sure John McCain would support the definition, after all, he voted “yea” on the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Senator Barach Obama voted “nay”.

Categories
Opinion Politics

White House fearful of prosecution…

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Harpers Magazine interviewed Jane Mayer, the author of The Dark SideAn inside story of how the war on terror turned into a war on American ideals. This book is a series of articles which chronicle the Bush’s administrations involvement with torture and the individuals that helped make it happen.

In a series of gripping articles, Jane Mayer has chronicled the Bush Administration’s grim and furtive dealings with torture and has exposed both the individuals within the administration who “made it happen” (a group that starts with Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington), the team of psychologists who put together the palette of techniques, and the Fox television program “24,” which was developed to help sell it to the American public.

The interview involved six questions which can be found here… I highly recommend reading this interview in it’s entirety.

What I found striking was Jane Mayer’s respsonse to the first question which included this statement:

Activists will be angry at me for saying this, but as someone who has covered politics in Washington, D.C., for two decades, I would be surprised if there is the political appetite for going after public servants who convinced themselves that they were acting in the best interests of the country, and had legal authority to do so. An additional complicating factor is that key members of Congress sanctioned this program, so many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised.

Much will depend on who the next president and attorney general are, and how much pressure they feel. At the very least, as a journalist, I hope that the records are opened, and all the legal memos released (several crucial ones remain secret) so that the country can learn its own history here. My guess is that the real accountability for President Bush will be in the history books, not the court room.

Remember, there are both Democrats and Republicans that sit on the Intelligence Committees and these legislators were informed of the torture programs as developed by the Bush administration. This would make them both accessory before and after the fact.

The reaction of top Bush Administration officials to the ICRC report, from what I can gather, has been defensive and dismissive. They reject the ICRC’s legal analysis as incorrect. Yet my reporting shows that inside the White House there has been growing fear of criminal prosecution, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled in the Hamdan case that the Geneva Conventions applied to the treatment of the detainees. This nervousness resulted in the successful effort to add retroactive immunity to the Military Commission Act. Cheney personally spearheaded this effort. Fear of the consequences of exposure also weighed heavily in discussions about whether to shut the CIA program down. In White House meetings, Cheney warned that if they transferred the CIA’s prisoners to Guantanamo, “people will want to know where they have been—and what we’ve been doing with them.” Alberto Gonzales, a source said, “scared” everyone about the possibility of war crimes prosecutions. It was on their minds.

(I added the emphasis)

Well, now I understand why there was this big push to pass the Military Commission Act back in the Fall of 2007. And to think that most Congress men and women didn’t even read this bill. My Congressman told me that he voted in favor of this bill because Nancy Pelosi told him to vote “yea” and he did. She wields a strong arm in the Democratic Congress.

Wait, there’s even more… Cheney and his buddies have been carrying around a grudge ever since Watergate and they saw 9/11 as an opportunity to strike back.

After interviewing hundreds of sources in and around the Bush White House, I think it is clear that many of the legal steps taken by the so-called “War Council” were less a “New Paradigm,” as Alberto Gonzales dubbed it, than an old political wish list, consisting of grievances that Cheney and his legal adviser, David Addington, had been compiling for decades. Cheney in particular had been chafing at the post-Watergate reforms, and had longed to restore the executive branch powers Nixon had assumed, constituting what historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called “the Imperial Presidency.

Then there is the matter of the recent FISA bill and Congressional members’ knowledge of the illegal spying when it first took place.

From Salon: