US official admits they torture

I am both amazed and not amazed (is that possible) that Susan Crawford has gone public with the revelation that the US did torture inmates at Gitmo. Susan Crawford is the convening authority of the military commissions at Gitmo.

Amazed because it has happened before the end of Bush’s term, but not amazed because I suspect that she is trying to get in first before all the other revelations come public. How many others will come out to try and protect their own reputations?

“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions byDefense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture.”

And remember that Bush said this on the 6th Sept 2006:

“The United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values.”

Maybe now some of the deniers will start to admit that the Bush administration not only allowed torture to occur but actively created the conditions in which it would occur. And will this be another of the “disappointments” that Bush lists in his presidency? Just like the fact that there were no WMD’s are a “disappointment”?

Those responsible in the Bush administration should be held accountable for their actions.

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23 Responses

  1. “We learn as children it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission,” Crawford said. “I think the buck stops in the Oval Office.”

    Surely she should know that Bush like Howard never apologises unless personally responsible.

    If Bush and Rummy were on the losing side Saddam’s fate would await them as well.

  2. I am not amazed (& neither are you joni) that those gentle Imperial custodians of teh peace torture, I am surprised that Crawford has had a pang of conscience though; but probably not half as surprised as Anus Cheney.

    I look forward to the Wingnut intelligentsia doing a hatchet job on her street cred in the same vein as the one they did last year when the former Whitehouse spokesman (ummm, can’t ‘member his name…just finished Nightshift is my excuse) wrote his book that vaguely criticised his revered former employers in a vaguely honest fashion.

    I t would be interesting to know precisely what torture(s) she is referring to in that they caused “medical harm”.
    No doubt slithering semantics will arise to blur the clarity of just what exactly does constitute torture in these trying times.

    But no way, they haven’t been lying to us all these years, they’ve been riding the freedom pony, yessir.

  3. Nature 5:

    “Surely she should know that Bush like Howard never apologises unless personally responsible.”

    But they never are “personally responsible” because no one ever told them, therefore no apology will be forthcoming…

  4. reb:

    “But they never are “personally responsible” because no one ever told them, therefore no apology will be forthcoming…

    True! But you could have added – quod erat demonstrandum – or Q.E.D. for short. Lol.

    For ‘conservatives’ they sure are radical.

  5. But the Bush admin was the ones that:

    – had lawyers change the definition of torture
    – had lawyers give them advise the torture was OK-
    – created the conditions in which torture was condoned
    – ignored repeated warnings and derided those who raised the concerns
    – etc

    And so in my eyes – they have more to answer than those who carried out the torture.

    I seem to remember Sparta (I maybe wrong on who) saying that if torture occured, why has no senior official come forward to say that it has.

    Well – here is the first senior official to come forward, and I’d bet that it will not be the last.

  6. “here is the first senior official to come forward, and I’d bet that it will not be the last.”

    Agreed! A different dynamic is now in play with the appointment of Panetta to head the CIA. Many on the fringes will now be keen to curry favour with their new boss and tell all.

    Time for public confessions not private regrets.

  7. Love it:

    “Time for public confessions not private regrets”.

    Where were they when crimes against humanity were being performed. They should not only be ashamed but should be held accountable for their non-actions. Otherwise – future administrations will do the same thing.

  8. “should be held accountable for their non-actions”

    While I agree that non-action is a political choice, I think there are several difficulties in holding people ‘accountable’.

    Am I obliged to help a drowning person? Does that obligation extend to me putting my life at risk? While there might be moral obligations I doubt there are enforceable legal ones.

    Bush and Howard operated from the same political playbook. They created a climate of fear for public officials which causes people to self-censor. I wonder if Andrew Wilkie has at least some regrets about his very public ‘job suicide’. He told the ‘truth’ but he paid a price. Those who perhaps benefitted from his disclosures are not lining up to reward him in any shape or form.

    ‘Whistle blowers’ cause fear across the political spectrum.

  9. I would think (or hope) that Andrew Wilkie is very content with his actions. I have lost contracts because I have stood up to bully-bosses and I would not be party to their methods.

    In the analogy of the drowning person, you may see person drowning but cannot help for fear of your own life, but you do not just walk away… you try to alert the authorities.

    Susan Crawford knew that torture took place, she knew it was against US law, and she chose not to come public with those details – even when others were reporting those exact details.

    I seem to remember that the Howard government when challenged over the torture allegations at Gitmo said that they had asked the US and were assured that no torture had taken place. We pointed out that most criminals when asked have they committed a crime also say that they are innocent, which is why we have independent investigations (something the US refuses to allow at Gitmo).

    And others on both here and the other place when the allegations of torture were raised said (to the effect) that of course they would say that because they want to discredit the US.

    And so yes, I think (and hope) the appointment of Panetta will be creating a lot of sleepless nights in those who authorised and permitted torture to occur on their watch.

  10. “I have lost contracts because I have stood up ”

    What if you have dependents? What if your decision has ramifications that extend far beyond the individual in question?

    In making some decisions, like quitting one’s employment, one can also be endangering the lifestyle/futures of others. Is it fair, that they should suffer because the generalised you ‘couldn’t take it’?

    While I admit that there should always be a ‘line’ somewhere, for me it is very much the ‘grey area’.

    As for my example of the drowning person, there is almost an infinite range of what one might or might not do. But my point is the law is difficult to apply to a person’s non-actions.

    As I sit here and glance out the window, I see a speeding motorist. Do I ‘act’ and report to police? Being mindful that this speeding motorist might just kill a child tomorrow if not stopped? Should I be accountable if I do not act? The questions are endless as are the possibilities.

  11. One of my worst memories of the former government is Philip Ruddock. A lawyer’s lawyer he justified children being locked up and their subsequent traumatisation by stating that kids were often into “body piercing” (that is, children had sewn their lips together). Horrible smug hypocrite and the press has something to answer for by just sitting idly by and doing their noddies. Inferred that water boarding wasn’t torture in spite of the fact that these same techniques were used against Australia POWs WW2.

  12. N5

    Oh – I see what you mean with the law and non-action. And I am not meaning that Susan Crawford should be held accountable (although I think she is morally responsible for her non-action) – I think that people like Bush, Cheney, Rumseld, Gonzales etc.

  13. And Cheney has been interviewed on the comments by Susan Crawford and he is hiding behind the “legal advice”. This has got me even more angry now:

    I’m also, as I recall – I read the article this morning – that she said all of the techniques that were utilized were authorized. None of them were in violation of the basic fundamental tenets that we used out there

    I can’t claim perfection. But what I can say is that in terms of what the policies of the administration were, both at the White House level and at the Defense Department, was that enhanced interrogation was okay. We had specific techniques that were approved by the Justice Department – but that we don’t torture and that we would not support torture from the standpoint of policy. It was not the policy of this administration.

    I am sorry – but he is full of sh!t! Go read the full transcripts and tell me that it doesn’t piss you off too!

  14. And one of the worst things, aside for torturing potentially innocent people; as after all, how many people have been released (by the way are there any women at Gitmo?) free of all charges is that those who are guilty may never receive any convictions or indeed even face a regular court.

    I read on a blog the same old, same old..who cares who is tortured as long as we remain safe and freeeee. The inference of course being that only the guilty are ever ever tortured.

  15. And remember this what a US Senate report said:

    “The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of ‘a few bad apples’ acting on their own. 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?”

  16. I cannot see how the USA will ever be able to justify it’s actions under the Geneva Convention. This is giving due regard to the fact that a main reason for this Convention is that American were appalled about the treatment of captured service personnel by the Japanese.

    The USA might argue that these people are ‘beligerants’ but refer to Article 5 Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

    The US’s problem is that after 6-7 years that they were never able to organise a ‘competent tribunal’. Also, refer to above, ‘until such time…’ then belligerants were to ‘enjoy the protection of the present Convention…’. The USA are clearly in breach of the Geneva Convention, but I should imagine that it will take some time before this is to be clearly defined.

  17. So true min, as well as this from the UNDHR (which turned 60 in December 2008):

    Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    The Bush admin deliberately created the conditions underwhich it occured and should be held accountable for their actions.

  18. And hence the reason for Gitmo as Cuba is not a signatory to the Geneva Convention. It’s on a par with, I didn’t inhale and try to prove that I did.

    Put the inmates on American soil..then try to prove that they are not entitled to treatment in accordance with the Geneva Convention. This is of course never going to happen.

  19. Toiletboss

    Wikipedia on al-Qahtani and the kinds of things done: /Mohammed al-Qahtani

    Link to copy of Times’ alleged record of interrogations: Interrogation Log Detainee 063

    If I was offering my own analysis, I’d suggest that admitting that the material was inadmissible because it was ‘coerced’ via torture is a very generous interpretation of what occurred, and one which leaves ‘Appendix M’ methods intact politically, while avoiding the inevitable conclusion that ‘enhanced interrogation’ produces bogus HUMINT and thug interrogators. At a further intuitive guess, I’d be guessing that much of the expressed feelings of ‘mental unwellness’ by the detainee, and frequent expressions about trickery and blurry imagery, were caused by chemical enhancements (truth ‘serum’ to go with the reverse-engineered SERE methodology anyone?) to the already enhanced physical interrogation methods.

  20. I’m not surprised that this came out. We all knew it occurred, even the ones using misdirection and a need for “more convincing proof”.

    However, it would appear that there is going to be a change fo the guard with Obama in. In much the same fashion as Bush/Rove changed public servants in key areas of the Justice Department, Obama/Clinton will be looking to change the right/left dynamic across the board to make things easier on his administration.

    Unlike Bush/Rove, however, there won’t be a need make things up to fire people, just expose the deeds they committed in order to keep their positions.

  21. Well, of course they torture people.

    And it’s all nice ‘n legal too, according to Alberto Gonzales, the former White House Legal Counsel Bush elevated to US Attorney General in 2004. For those of you who don’t know, Smiling Albert is the dude who thought-up the whole legal rationale for places like Guantanamo Bay Prison and the interrogation practices adopted there.

    He was finally forced to resign as AG in disgrace in 2007, once the stench from his earlier shenanigans became too much.

    Too bad that.

    I’m sure G W would have eventually slipped him into a comfy seat on the US Supreme Court, given half a chance. Then we’d really have gotten some decent legal precedents.

    Imagine how Rodney King (that black guy beaten stupid by the cops in LA) would have fared before an Appeal Court constituted by The Honourable Justice Gonzalez:

    “What are ya whingin’ about, son. You’ve still got ya testicles ain’t ya?”

  22. You want to read up on Alberto and what a complete radical right wing religious nutjob he was. He would write his own religious battle hymns for crusades (no need to say who against) and would order the staff into his office to recite them in full voice.

    He stated the aim of Christianity and the US was to spread the word of (the Christian) God to the world.

  23. I’d be intrigued to read some of his battle hymns Adrian, are they available?

    There were a couple of similar characters in the book I read about “BlackWater” & it’s loopy fundie initiator. I believe one of them was a General who was prone to making frequent public statements about the Holy Righteousness of the war he saw himself to be spearheading for Almighty god.
    If i can dig the book up I’ll link his name.

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