Humane interrogation methods led to one of the war’s biggest breakthroughs

Right thinking

I’m Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq

Our new interrogation methods led to one of the war’s biggest breakthroughs: We convinced one of Zarqawi’s associates to give up the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader’s location. On June 8, 2006, U.S. warplanes dropped two 500-pound bombs on a house where Zarqawi was meeting with other insurgent leaders.

But Zarqawi’s death wasn’t enough to convince the joint Special Operations task force for which I worked to change its attitude toward interrogations. The old methods continued. I came home from Iraq feeling as if my mission was far from accomplished. Soon after my return, the public learned that another part of our government, the CIA, had repeatedly used waterboarding to try to get information out of detainees.

While “Matthew Alexander” (a pseudonym for obvious reasons) will get the well desreved procedes from his book, he remains an anonymous hero. Because he fought what had become an abomitable staus quo established by the Bush administration and managed to save untold lives while respecting well established humanitarian precedents in the treatment of prisoners. I understand the impulse to torture, to take revenge on those that have hurt and contributed to the harm of a loved one or simply a fellow American. Those impulses are all too human. Acting on them, encouraging them and breaking the laws against them is another matter. In a post entitled The torture of things that aren’t torture at the Conservative blog BlackFive by Uncle Jimbo some thoughts are offered up that don’t make sense, but then I don’t drink the kool-aid,

[  ]…Now I have long been in favor of all the enhanced interrogation techniques which this person seems to believe go beyond the pale…

If he did complain and it was ignored, and I mean filing official complaints that he can prove, then the military owes answers. If his whole complaint is that we used enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorists, then I have no use for him…

Note the Orwellian “enhanced interrogation techniques”. He is for EIT, but against torture. Thus EIT is not torture because he believes it isn’t. Torture, left undefined in his post, should be reported – using “official complaints”. That is the tortuous thing about convoluted logic in which one is allowed one’s own definitions of what words and actions mean. Spin is a wonderful thing to escape responsibility, to so gunk up the normal course of the traditional thesis and supporting arguments that it becomes a code, a nod and wink between those on the ideological fringe. Still, what with the internets, White House announcements, bills signed into law,subpoenas ignored and the occasional well researched report from an actual journalist, there’s no excuse for not keeping up. Well unless one lives in a bubble and likes it that way. The Memo:
How an internal effort to ban the abuse and torture of detainees was thwarted

The memo is a chronological account, submitted on July 7, 2004, to Vice Admiral Albert Church, who led a Pentagon investigation into abuses at the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It reveals that Mora’s criticisms of Administration policy were unequivocal, wide-ranging, and persistent. Well before the exposure of prisoner abuse in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, in April, 2004, Mora warned his superiors at the Pentagon about the consequences of President Bush’s decision, in February, 2002, to circumvent the Geneva conventions, which prohibit both torture and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” He argued that a refusal to outlaw cruelty toward U.S.-held terrorist suspects was an implicit invitation to abuse. Mora also challenged the legal framework that the Bush Administration has constructed to justify an expansion of executive power, in matters ranging from interrogations to wiretapping. He described as “unlawful,” “dangerous,” and “erroneous” novel legal theories granting the President the right to authorize abuse. Mora warned that these precepts could leave U.S. personnel open to criminal prosecution.

As noted in this report, now a much ignored part of American history and the illegal acts done in our name, is the duly noted public proclamations by BushCo that they only used humane interrogation techniques. Obviously not true, playing word games with EIT and torture are tools of the propagandist, not simple reality. Book Cites Secret Red Cross Report of C.I.A. Torture of Qaeda Captives

Red Cross investigators concluded last year in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation methods for high-level Qaeda prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes, according to a new book on counterterrorism efforts since 2001.

The book says that the International Committee of the Red Cross declared in the report, given to the C.I.A. last year, that the methods used on Abu Zubaydah, the first major Qaeda figure the United States captured, were “categorically” torture, which is illegal under both American and international law.

Bush didn’t do all the torturing. Much like many American jobs outsourced by his ‘free trade'(another perfectly good word turned into code for unbridled greed) brethren, Bush outsourced some torture, The secret history of America’s “extraordinary rendition” program

Rendition was originally carried out on a limited basis, but after September 11th, when President Bush declared a global war on terrorism, the program expanded beyond recognition—becoming, according to a former C.I.A. official, “an abomination.” What began as a program aimed at a small, discrete set of suspects—people against whom there were outstanding foreign arrest warrants—came to include a wide and ill-defined population that the Administration terms “illegal enemy combatants.” Many of them have never been publicly charged with any crime. Scott Horton, an expert on international law who helped prepare a report on renditions issued by N.Y.U. Law School and the New York City Bar Association, estimates that a hundred and fifty people have been rendered since 2001. Representative Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts and a member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, said that a more precise number was impossible to obtain. “I’ve asked people at the C.I.A. for numbers,” he said. “They refuse to answer. All they will say is that they’re in compliance with the law.”

[  ]…In 1998, Congress passed legislation declaring that it is “the policy of the United States not to expel, extradite, or otherwise effect the involuntary return of any person to a country in which there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture, regardless of whether the person is physically present in the United States.”

Maybe he was high on something, but one honest pro “enhanced interrogation” member of the Right once said in a blog that he didn’t care about all the facts; that torture isn’t effective, it helps radicals win more recruits, that it endangers our troops and agents, did not care if it is illegal and immoral. He said that he liked it – pretty much what one can conclude from the Uncle Jimbo post. He liked it because it made “them”, the Untermensch, feel pain. He believed, despite evidence to the contrary, that using torture scared terrorists and potential terrorists. Such fear would deter another 9-11. Since I read that we’ve seen AQ regain strength in Afghanistan, the London bombings and we still have Americans dying in Iraq.

Government warned of mortgage meltdown

The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.

Remember Bush’s recent declaration regarding his presidency, “I came to Washington with a set of values, and I’m leaving with the same set of values,”. Very much in the vein of his torture surrogates and supporters, completely immune from reality and the consequences.