Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"The United States does not torture. It's against our laws, and it's against our values,"

So said President Bush on Sept 6, 2006.

A NYT article based on an interview with Susan Crawford, who is a neutral legal official involved with the GITMO detainees. The article is here

Excerpts and commentary follow:


We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first
interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal
definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.

No, she must be wrong because see above for what President Bush said. Of course, Ms. Crawford let's President Bush off the hook by noting that everything authorized was legal, it just got out of hand:

"The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they
applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of
torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This
was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a
medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for.
And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over
the edge" to call it torture, she said.
As I read on, however, I got the feeling that Judge Crawford was just sick about this, her loyal republicanness, however, keeps her from stating what is obvious, even as she tries to deny it. some more:

"There's no doubt in my mind he would've been on one of those planes had he
gained access to the country in August 2001," Crawford said of Qahtani, who
remains detained at Guantanamo. "He's a muscle hijacker. . . . He's a very
dangerous man. What do you do with him now if you don't charge him and try him?
I would be hesitant to say, 'Let him go.' "

Well, no, don't let him go if he is a danger to anyone, but then, I'm guessing the evidence against him is so tainted and the torture has really hurt him (see the article for a detailed description of what was done to him and the results of his "corecive" treatment.

What would a comment on torture be without Darth Vader (VP Dick Cheney):

Cheney said, "And I think on the left wing of the Democratic Party, there are some people who believe that we really tortured."

We really did, what, are we supposed to believe that it was not really torture, just sorta turned out that way. It is gonna have repercussions, too.

"I sympathize with the intelligence gatherers in those days after 9/11, not
knowing what was coming next and trying to gain information to keep us safe,"
said Crawford, a lifelong Republican. "But there still has to be a line that we
should not cross. And unfortunately what this has done, I think, has tainted
everything going forward."

I'm just glad to see that this judge is sickened by it. Of course, the Cheny-Rove-Bush team would just call her a lib simp, a RHINO or some other such derogatory name:

In May 2008, Crawford ordered the war-crimes charges against Qahtani dropped but
did not state publicly that the harsh interrogations were the reason. "It did
shock me," Crawford said. "I was upset by it. I was embarrassed by it. If we
tolerate this and allow it, then how can we object when our servicemen and
women, or others in foreign service, are captured and subjected to the same
techniques? How can we complain? Where is our moral authority to complain? Well,
we may have lost it."

Ugh, with his resignation, we forgot about Rummy......but the GITMO detainees aren't soon to forget it might seem:

The harsh techniques used against Qahtani, she said, were approved by
then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "A lot of this happened on his watch," she said. Last month, a Senate Armed Services Committee report concluded that "Rumsfeld's authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there." The committee found the interrogation techniques harsh and abusive but stopped short of calling them
We could use more conscientious public servants like Judge Crawford:

Crawford said detainee interrogation practices are a blot on the reputation
of the United States and its military judicial system. "There's an assumption
out there that everybody was tortured. And everybody wasn't tortured. But
unfortunately perception is reality." The system she oversees probably can't
function now, she said. "Certainly in the public's mind, or politically
speaking, and certainly in the international community" it may be forever
tainted. "It may be too late."

I hope it is not too late and I'm sure that if we prosecuted those responsible for (meaning ordered) the torture, we could regain our moral high ground.

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