Category Archives: Torture

The Moral High Ground

On NPR this morning they were noting sarcastically that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had said members of his security forces “may lose their jobs” if they are found guilty of torturing election protesters. The implication was “that's all?”.

And I'm thinking — have we done as much here?

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Australian View of John Yoo’s Class at Berkeley

Chasers War on Everything is a very funny, biting, satirical Australian TV show. Here's their take on John Yoo (Torture Lawyer) teaching at Berkeley law.

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Today’s Torture Links

Bob Herbert, NYT, How Long Is Long Enough?

Glenn Greenwald, NPR Ombudsman refuses interview regarding “torture”

Crooks & Liars, New Yorker Magazine Buries Major Abu Ghraib Abuse On Page 6 Of CIA Story

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Bush WH Linked to Abu Ghraib

In Establishing the connection between the Bush White House and Abu Ghraib my brother reports on work that connects the dots,

Denying that White House policy was directly responsible for the vile abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib has been the central goal of a five-year disinformation campaign by Bush officials. 'Torture Team' author Philippe Sands argues that newly-disclosed records show how blatantly Bush officials were willing to lie in order to lead reporters away from the truth.

Also, other good stuff at Neiman Watchdog.

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Public Wants Torture Investigations

If you are reading this blog via the RSS feed — and my logs suggest that is what most readers do — then all of a sudden you are missing out as the comments sections have gotten a lot more lively than they used to be.

If you want to play along, you could either read the blog the old-fashioned way, or you could subscribe to the Comments Feed. Your choice.

Meanwhile, a propos comments, someone recently suggested there that the public had little interest in seeing whether we have war criminals in our midst, and in bringing to justice any who ordered torture. Turns out that's wrong: Research 2000 Poll: Americans Want Investigations,

A significant majority of Americans responding to this week's Research 2000 poll want to see some kind of investigation into the Bush administration's abuses of power.

Asked whether they would prefer a criminal investigation, independent panel, or neither in the use of the Justice Department for political purposes, torture, and warrantless wiretaps, strong majorities in every instance approved some kind of investigation, either in a truth commission type panel, or a criminal probe.

Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 4/27-30. Registered voters. MoE 2%. (No trend lines)

Question: As you may know there have been allegations that the Bush Administration used the Department of Justice for political purposes. Which of the following would you favor the most a criminal investigation into those allegations or an investigation by an independent panel or neither?

Independent Panel 36
Criminal Investigation 29
Neither 18

Question: There have also been allegations that the Bush Administration engaged in torture in terror investigations. Which of the following would you favor the most a criminal investigation into those allegations or an investigation by an independent panel or neither?

Independent Panel 31
Criminal Investigation 22
Neither 22

Question: There have also been allegations that the Bush Administration used telephone wiretaps against American citizens without court warrants. Which of the following would you favor the most a criminal investigation into those allegations or an investigation by an independent panel or neither?

Independent Panel 33
Criminal Investigation 23
Neither 21

Those are significant majorities in every category for some kind of accounting into Bush administration abuses.

The public is slow to rouse, but also slow to forget.

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At the Sharp End: The Highest Officials Authorize Torture of a Clerk

Los Angeles Times, Abu Zubaydah's suffering:

He was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002. Because the Bush administration believed him to be a senior Al Qaeda operative his detention and interrogation produced a fistful of firsts. As far as we can tell he is the only prisoner in U.S. history whose interrogation was the subject of debate and direct authorization within the White House and the first to disappear into a secret CIA “black site.”

He was the first prisoner in the “war on terror” to experience the full gamut of ancient techniques adapted by the communists in Korea and 50 years later approved by the Justice Department in Washington. He was the first prisoner to have his interrogations captured on videotape — a practice the CIA ended in late 2002. Two years later the agency destroyed 90 videotapes of Abu Zubaydah s interrogations which resulted in a criminal investigation of government officials connected with the program.

Many questions about his interrogation remain unanswered but two legs of the three-legged stool are firmly in place.

First they beat him. As authorized by the Justice Department and confirmed by the Red Cross they wrapped a collar around his neck and smashed him over and over against a wall. They forced his body into a tiny pitch-dark box and left him for hours. They stripped him naked and suspended him from hooks in the ceiling. They kept him awake for days.

And they strapped him to an inverted board and poured water over his covered nose and mouth to “produce the sensation of suffocation and incipient panic.” Eighty-three times. I leave it to others to debate whether we should call this torture. I am content with the self-evident truth that it was wrong.

Second his treatment was motivated by the bane of our post-9/11 world: rotten intel. The beat him because they believed he was evil. Not long after his arrest President Bush described him as “one of the top three leaders” in Al Qaeda and “Al Qaeda s chief of operations.” In fact the CIA brass at Langley Va. ordered his interrogators to keep at it long after the latter warned that he had been wrung dry.

In fact, he was “a personnel clerk.”

And there's more. It's all horrible.

We must investigate and prosecute those responsible for this atrocity.

The point is not that justice demands that those responsible at the highest levels be held accountable, although justice demands it — and more. The point is not that the victims of torture — some evil, some banal, some perhaps innocent — deserve recompense — although they might. The point is that we in whose name these barbarities were practiced, we who did not take up pitchforks and at least stand by the gates in protest, we owe it to ourselves to confront the truth then dishonor and punish those most responsible. We must make clear that we do not tacitly condone torture, or else we own it.

History teaches that even a firm housecleaning after the fact is at best a temporary vaccination against relapses of the hysteria, idiocy, and moral indifference that inspired this illegality. But it also teaches that lack of accountability ensures a rapid recidivism.

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