Monday, December 15, 2008

Bush and Rumsfeld Are War Criminals and Cowards


Authorization for torture at Guantanamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan came from the highest levels of government:
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.) today released the executive summary and conclusions of the Committee’s report of its inquiry into the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody.

From the executive summary and conclusions (.pdf):
Senate Armed Services Committee Conclusions

Conclusion 1: On February 7, 2002, President George W. Bush made a written determination that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees. Following the President’s determination, techniques such as waterboarding, nudity, and stress positions, used in SERE training to simulate tactics used by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions, were authorized for use in interrogations of detainees in U.S. custody.

Conclusion 2: Members of the President’s Cabinet and other senior officials participated in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed. National Security Council Principals reviewed the CIA’s interrogation program during that period.

Conclusions on SERE Training Techniques and Interrogations

Conclusion 3: The use of techniques similar to those used in SERE resistance training – such as stripping students of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, and treating them like animals – was at odds with the commitment to humane treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. Using those techniques for interrogating detainees was also inconsistent with the goal of collecting accurate intelligence information, as the purpose of SERE resistance training is to increase the ability of U.S. personnel to resist abusive interrogations and the techniques used were based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions.

Conclusion 4: The use of techniques in interrogations derived from SERE resistance training created a serious risk of physical and psychological harm to detainees. The SERE schools employ strict controls to reduce the risk of physical and psychological harm to students during training. Those controls include medical and psychological screening for students, interventions by trained psychologists during training, and code words to ensure that students can stop the application of a technique at any time should the need arise. Those same controls are not present in real world interrogations.

...

Conclusion 13: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there. Secretary Rumsfeld’s December 2, 2002 approval of Mr. Haynes’s recommendation that most of the techniques contained in GTMO’s October 11, 2002 request be authorized, influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques, including military working dogs, forced nudity, and stress positions, in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Conclusion 19: The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at GTMO. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s December 2, 2002 authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody. What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.

President Bush and his administration blamed the torture that went on at Guantanamo Bay on a "few bad apples" and let Lynndie England hang out to dry while he and Rumsfeld continued on their merry way.

England went to prison, as she should have. Why is Bush still sitting in the White House? Why is Don Rumsfeld a free man?

(HT: Andrew Sullivan, who has been relentless on the torture issue.)

11 comments:

Garnel Ironheart said...

The whole concept of war crimes is a joke. The real world definition of war crimes is: I won the war, and I don't like how YOU fought it so I'm going to punish you.

Do you think that if Hitler, y"sh, had won the War, he'd have arrested himself and his thugs for war crimes? Eisenhower, Churchill and Truman would have been arrested and convicted as war criminals.

There is only one objective in war: to win. Because no one cares about a civlized loser who played within the rules.

jewish philosopher said...

Personally, I don't really feel that sorry for Muslims. I know what they would do to me if they could.

However I do believe that Bush deserves to be hanged for deceiving the American people about the weapons of mass destruction. That was I think a treasonable abuse of power. There should be some accountablity for that.

Jewish Atheist said...

garnel:

What's your point? That torture's okay? Also, the report says that torture hurt our ability to get good intelligence, so it wasn't a useful war crime even if you're a sociopath who cares only about what works.


JP:

I think it'd be harder to prove that Bush knowingly lied about WMDs than to prove he authorized torture. The latter seems easy, although I'm not a lawyer. My real question is why there is no serious attempt to prosecute him for this. We impeached Clinton for lying about a blow-job, we would have impeached Nixon for simple burglary (and its cover-up), we even prosecuted people for the Iran contra stuff. Bush's authorization of torture is in a different ballpark than Clinton's or Nixon's crimes at least, and much more provable than the Iran contra stuff, at least as it related to Reagan.

We as a country need to do something substantial, like prosecuting Bush and company, to show the world that this is not what we stand for. Otherwise, the whole world's going to see us as torturers and war criminals for a hundred years.

Not to mention the precedent it sets for future presidents. Hey, do whatever you want, we're not gonna prosecute.

Scott said...

England went to prison, as she should have. Why is Bush still sitting in the White House? Why is Don Rumsfeld a free man?

Because American refuses to elect anyone outside of the two conservative parties. We don't want change, we want people that talk about change.

Holy Hyrax said...

>What's your point? That torture's okay? Also, the report says that torture hurt our ability to get good intelligence, so it wasn't a useful war crime even if you're a sociopath who cares only about what works.

Torture is a moral question. So really, even if we always got 100% correct intelligence, would we still want it? Its all going to be based on individual POV's

Jewish Atheist said...

HH:

Torture is a moral question.

Um, it is, but it's also a legal question. As in, it's plainly illegal. That's the part relevant to prosecutions.

I think it's immoral as well, as do most Americans, I think, but if you think what England and many others did is okay, what can I say?

Holy Hyrax said...

I realize its a legal question, but the first is a moral question. Meaning, if it was legal, would you think it was right? Of course not.

Here is an interesting poll (yes, just a poll and yes, is a bit dated) that in fact shows what you say that most Americans are against torture. But, it also shows that most Americans accept certain abuse that others WOULD consider torture.

http://abcnews.go.com/images/pdf/955a3Torture.pdf

Tigerboy said...

I have been shocked and appalled at the American people's easy acceptance of the use of torture. I had always thought that we stood for higher ideals than that. So disappointing.

I agree that allowing these crimes to go unpunished has caused, and will continue to cause, major damage to our reputation. How many decades will it take to recover from all the damage caused by this presidency? If we ever do.

As usual, I totally disagree with Garnel Ironheart. America's reputation was buoyed all over the world, for the way in which it conducted itself during World War 2. We were admired by the world for generations.

Had Hitler won, there is no way he would have gotten universal admiration. The world would never have admired the killing of 6 million people.

Name one modern perpetrator of mass genocide who is admired. Even throughout history. Some might be famous for military skill, but that's quite different from universal admiration.

Holy Hyrax said...

>I had always thought that we stood for higher ideals than that.

Lets not get into more of your subjective ideals again. Those people (as I) DO stand for higher ideals (I would not judge that you don't). But those ideals are also about preserving life, not just certain philosophical ideals, and if torturing a person would mean saving countless of others, than you do it.


>America's reputation was buoyed all over the world, for the way in which it conducted itself during World War 2. We were admired by the world for generations.

I would gather that:

a) With a lack of modern telecommunication and technology, we have idea of the bad stuff that did happen during the War. Some say that the bombings of Dresden was a war crime as well as the atom bombing.

b) Even if bad things WERE brought to light, nobody would care, because the opposing option of the enemy winning would have been more catasrophic for the world and that this war needed to be won by any means. And people probably could stomach more things back then we can now.

jewish philosopher said...

I don't think the torture is a big deal. What did Iraqis do in Kuwait? Serve prisoners ice cream?

Of course we should follow due process, however I think it's pretty clear that the WMB thing was just an deceptive excuse for a war Bush wanted for other reasons. I'm furious that I was deceived, that I'll have to pay for it in my taxes and that thousands of Americans lost lives and limbs. I would string him up down there on his Texas ranch and wipe that little grin off his face.

I've seen bad presidents, I remember Nixon, but this guy really crossed the line.

Garnel Ironheart said...

> As usual, I totally disagree with Garnel Ironheart.

No real shock there.

> America's reputation was buoyed all over the world, for the way in which it conducted itself during World War 2. We were admired by the world for generations.

Hah! And I will repeat for your edification: Hah!

The U.S. has been despised by the rest of the world except by countries that actually thought that it would help them if they revolted against the Soviets. The biggest sources of anti-American hatred have always been those countries most dependent on American protection and largesse, in particular the Western European democracies.

For decades, America has been portrayed around the world as a cowboy-infested culture-free backwater worth no respect at all. The reason for this, of course, is jealousy of its wealth and success.

The only time America was viewed positively in the world was in the days after 9/11. Even that dissipated quickly when America announced it would actually -gasp!- go vigorously after the terrorists and -gasp!-actually call them that.

America can have love from the rest of the world if it allowed the UN and the dictators who control the General Assembly to dictate both American foreign and domestic policy. If it allows that, it will collapse as a country as the rest of the world has no interest in a properous, stable America. The love of the world is like the kiss on the cheeks from the Godfather.

Or it can have fear. It can continue to announce that America puts its interests second to nobody. Given the alternatives, I hope they go for the latter.