Hicks and Cheney

And so we come to the end of 2008 and two of the major players in the Guantanamo Bay saga are back in the news.

First we have the expiry of the control order that was placed on David Hicks when he was released from prison in South Australia – where he completed the remainder of the sentence applied as part of his plea bargain – a plea bargain that remember was negotiated without knowledge of his legal team. Again – I will be accused of supporting terrorism by bringing up Hicks, whereas the reality is that I (and a lot of others) just wished for a fair and impartial trial to be conducted in a proper judical setting.

Secondly we see that Dick Cheney is actually still alive – he went completely missing during the presidential elections. Cheney has said that he “rejected accusations that the treatment of terror suspects amounted to torture and violated US law”.

Well – if that is the case then why did the administration continually block and hinder any attempt to get the detainees tried in a US court?

And finally, American Torture has found that a recently released Senate Armed Services’ Committee report has provided a timeline that details that the administration’s rush to protect themselves from any accusations of torture of the detainees was two months late, and this could lead to them being prosecuted. Basically, the Presidential order was signed in Feb 2002, but the “enhanced interogation” started in Dec 2001.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out after the change of administrations. In my opinion Bush, Cheney and Rumseld should be held accountable for their actions – and if they broke the law then they should be punished.

joni

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33 Responses

  1. Cheney has said that he “rejected accusations that the treatment of terror suspects amounted to torture and violated US law”.

    Well – if that is the case then why did the administration continually block and hinder any attempt to get the detainees tried in a US court?

    You might disagree with what he says, but how does Cheney’s rejection of the torture accusation in any way relate to whether (or where, or when) any trial(s) were conducted?

  2. ’30 days left to find BinLaden’ – Dick Slime, son of Satan

    Dear oh dear! Eight years later, Slimebag Dick intimates the new administration will either not pursue BinLaden, or is incapable and/or unwilling to do so. This guy makes Richard Nixon look like Shirley Temple, by comparison. The temerity of this bas***d.

  3. Dick Cheney’s still alive?

    How can anyone tell?

  4. Tony of South Yarra:
    Perhaps if any of the Guantanamo inmates had been brought to trial in a US court, details of torture methods may have come to light, something Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have carefully avoided.

    IMHO Guantanamo was never about law, justice, trial. Guantanamo was about instilling fear into the inmates and to prospective inmates. Secretive extraordinary rendition, extrajudicial transfer of prisoners from sovereign state to state, often without the said state having knowledge of such rendition shows clearly that the Bush administration thought of itself to be above anyone’s law. Illegal wiretapping of US citizens to boot. These guys are common thugs.

    The ceremonial trial and subsequent hanging of Saddam Hussein show US legal due process expediency only when expediency is in fact desired.

  5. “Perhaps if any of the Guantanamo inmates had been brought to trial in a US court, details of torture methods may have come to light, something Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have carefully avoided.”

    Any evidence obtained using torture techniques would also be inadmissable in US courts.

  6. In any case, it will be interesting to watch how the new administration handles the detainees; presumably speedy trial, relocation, or release will be the only options.

  7. Guantamo has always been about avoiding the rule of law. The reasoning being that the inmates were guilty but that no US court could find them guilty due to lack of evidence/admissions obtained via illegal acts such as coercion and torture.

    When push comes to shove my question has always been. If we are a democracy and we have faith in the democratic process, then we should be showing the world (those facist/socialist/monarchical states) what true democracy means. And this is a fair trial brought before one’s peers.

  8. It’s funny that now there is a change of leadership, Bush’s mantra is that he wants Gtmo closed. I always wonder if they are the worst of the worst, how come the majority have been sent home with no trial. If what they say is true about the detainees then Bush, Cheyney and that idiot Rumsfeld are supporting terrorists by freeing them, if it is not true, then they have been caught out telling prokies. Worse still they have lied and tortured the majority for nothing. Every dog has its day, I wonder if, when the soldiers of the Empire are caught and tortured, if the three idiots will put thier hand up and say….well we started it. This whold sad episode has opened up a can of worms that will ruin a lot of lives. Not only those innocent people in Gtmo, but innocent soldiers in future combat and peace keeping campaigns…and guess what, we can on;y blame the Empire for it.

  9. dave:

    Allow me to challenge you on a couple of points:

    “how come the majority have been sent home with no trial”

    To the best my recollection, about 150 have been sent home, and about 550 remain. Hardly the majority.

    ‘Worse still they have lied and tortured the majority for nothing”

    Although the description “torture” is being disputed by Cheney, the administration has admitted to waterboarding three high-ranking al-Queda officials. Again: majority?

    “Not only those innocent people in Gtmo”

    Innocent? How did you arrive at that conclusion – about any of them?

  10. T of SY,

    Have they been charged with any crimes or even convicted? Therefore they must be innocent.

    Simple really.

    And when the complete story of the torture comes out, I hope that you will condemn those responsible.

  11. And actually over 775 have been detained at Gitmo with over 420 released without charge. As at May 2008, around 270 remain.

  12. joni:

    “And actually over 775 have been detained at Gitmo with over 420 released without charge”

    Thanks for that. I stand corrected.

  13. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out after the change of administrations. In my opinion Bush, Cheney and Rumseld should be held accountable for their actions – and if they broke the law then they should be punished. joni

    Absolutely, joni!

    Easier said than done, methinks, we are dealing with three of the senior Robber Barons here…

    …Rumsfeldt should be shot by firing squad…(just to make sure!)

    …Cheney should spend time in a Guantanamo type facility for the rest of his life (not long enough IMO)…

    …and Bush should get the same as Mussolini…

  14. What about having Rumsfeld being dressed as a duck and being shot by Cheney?

  15. Actually – I am sorry, I do not want to see any of them executed. If convicted, they should all rot in prison alone with no external contact. And I stress that I am just wanting them to be brought in front of a court of law to explain and to be accountable for their actions.

  16. joni:

    “Have they been charged with any crimes or even convicted? Therefore they must be innocent.”

    Yes, under the presumtion of innocence, you are right again.

    Do you believe all will be released by the Obama administration, or will some be charged with something?

  17. I do not know, I just think that the evidence under which they have been detained should be examined in a court of law – that’s all.

  18. 17. joni

    Detained?

  19. They won’t be punished because the entrenched establishment will not allow this…it would bring the whole system down.

    History won’t judge the shock and awe trio kindly…I’m afraid that is the best it will get.

  20. TB – I mean those detained in Gitmo.

  21. 19. scaper…

    Yep! (You cynic, you!)

    20. joni

    Yep! (You dreamer, you!)

  22. Hopefully, TB, the truth will be between scaper and my POV’s.

  23. TofSY,

    Here is a damning quote from the Senate Armed Services’ Committee report, which shows that waterboarding is not the only form of torture authorised and used:

    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.

    That is the last conclusion in this report.

    And there is this quote from General Patreus:

    What sets us apart from our enemies in this fight… is how we behave. In everything we do, we must observe the standards and values that dictate that we treat noncombatants and detainees with dignity and respect. While we are warriors, we are also all human beings.

  24. Yes, it appears beyond doubt that aggressive interrogation techniques – or torture, depending on your point-of-view – were used.

    The question is – and I’m pretty sure I know your strong view on this – whether such techniques are ever justified, or justifiable, and if so, did any of these instances meet such preconditions.

  25. And another quote from Patreus:

    Our values and the laws governing warfare teach us to respect human dignity, maintain our integrity, and do what is right. Adherence to our values distinguishes us from our enemy. This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we – not our enemies – occupy the moral high ground.

  26. ToSY. They are never justified and its torture no matter what your point of view. Those attempting to pass it off as aggressive interrogation know its torture but just use magniloquence to hide that fact.

  27. Tony

    I think you know my answer to that.

    And there is a mass of evidence that shows that using torture to obtain evidence does not work (contrary to “24”).

    The major point is that the Bush administration has damaged the US reputation and (IMHO) broke a lot of US and International Law and should be held accountable – and to not hide behind executive privilege.

    Note the line in the quote at 25:

    This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we – not our enemies – occupy the moral high ground.

  28. And another pertinent quote from the report:

    The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.

    And before Sparta accuses me of hating all Americans, I just point out that I am quoting from his own Senate.

  29. “They won’t be punished because the entrenched establishment will not allow this…it would bring the whole system down.”scaper

    I reckon that’s about the size of it. One hand will wash the other in the gentlemen’s club, be they left or right.
    The more things change the more they stay the same etc..

    Torture is torture is torture. Pointing over there & squealing “but, but, but Al Qaeda are far worse than us, they behead people…” still doesn’t excuse it; in actuality it lowers our own standards ever closer towards those we presumably abhor.

    To say the ends justify the means just doesn’t cut it.

  30. The question is – and I’m pretty sure I know your strong view on this – whether such techniques are ever justified, or justifiable, and if so, did any of these instances meet such preconditions.

    That’s a very good question, if only because it shows that ANY justification rests on the presumption that torture leaves you in a better position than non-torture does.

    The problem is that most professional interrogators say that presumption is false under most circumstances (especially in a protracted conflict). The latest example is “Matthew Alexander” (a pseudonym), who is apparently a former special intelligence operations officer who was awarded the Bronze Star for Iraq, and has conducted and supervised hundreds of interrogations.

    He was widely reported in the press a few weeks ago talking about a book he wrote about his Iraq experiences and writing a Washington Post op-ed.

    Matthew’s team of interrogators hunted down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq – using methods based on rapport-building, cultural understanding & detective work rather than torture.

    “I know the counter-argument well — that we need the rough stuff for the truly hard cases, such as battle-hardened core leaders of al-Qaeda, not just run-of-the-mill Iraqi insurgents. But that’s not always true: We turned several hard cases, including some foreign fighters, by using our new techniques. A few of them never abandoned the jihadist cause but still gave up critical information. One actually told me, “I thought you would torture me, and when you didn’t, I decided that everything I was told about Americans was wrong. That’s why I decided to cooperate.”

    […]

    Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. […] It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. […] How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.”

    And before anyone responds with the “ticking time bomb” scenario, some quotes from an appearance on the Daily Show:

    “When I was in Iraq we were dealing with the ticking time bomb every day, the people we had captured, they were behind the suicide bombs. So many of them, right then and there, had information that could have saved lives. But we knew that if we resorted to torture to get that information, that al Qaeda would have used that to recruit more fighters in the future.”

    […]

    I never saw coercive methods [pay off]…When I was in Iraq, the few times I saw people use harsh methods, it was always counterproductive. The person just hunkered down, they were expecting us to do that, and they just shut up. And then I’d have to send somebody in, build back up rapport, reverse that process, and it would take us longer to get information.”

    And this is before we consider the effects of torture as (implicit or explicit) policy on the security/investigative departments. Try googling for some of the ex-KGB personnel who report the effect torture had on their institutions – they hollowed them out because as torture became the first recourse, not the last, anyone who had half a brain cell left the organisation. There was no need for detective smarts – or even actually finding out who did it – when you could get a confession from anyone for anything on-demand. And when the expectation of a quick confession from your first suspect becomes the norm, no-one is willing to stick their neck out by saying you might have the wrong person – or even by taking more time to investigate other possibilities.

    So I don’t think the presumption in the original question is justified by evidence. I reckon it’s up to the torture proponents to describe what they hope to achieve by using it, and how they expect our systems to avoid the known pitfalls of sanctioning it. And then provide some evidence that they can achieve what they hope for…

  31. Lotharsson

    Great comment and welcome to this place. Hope you stay to play.

  32. Good Day Lotharsson,

    I hope you’re still feeling as well as last time we spoke.

  33. Really good to see you here Latharsson, and your lucid pieces with sources and quotes to back them up. Always liked your work.

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