Bush, not soldiers, responsible for detainee torture
The Senate Armed Services Committee sends out Captain Obvious to announce the verdict
From the New York Times:
The physical and mental abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was the direct result of Bush administration detention policies and should not be dismissed as the work of bad guards or interrogators, according to a bipartisan Senate report released Thursday.For at least five years, it's been clear to everyone with half a brain that torture has been the official policy of the Bush administration. They as much as announced it when they established a prison at Guantanamo and declared that they were not required to follow either American law or the Geneva Conventions when dealing with prisoners there. They openly declared their intention to send prisoners to nations like Syria for the purpose of having them tortured, and the barred the Red Cross from inspecting prison facilities and from interviewing prisoners. Abuses at Abu Ghraib occurred after General Geoffrey D. Miller was transferred from Guantanamo to Iraq to "Gitmoize" the prison.
The Senate Armed Services Committee report concludes that harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA and the U.S. military were directly adapted from the training techniques used to prepare special forces personnel to resist interrogation by enemies that torture and abuse prisoners. The techniques included forced nudity, painful stress positions, sleep deprivation, and until 2003, waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning.
The report is the result of a nearly two-year investigation that directly links President Bush's policies after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, legal memos on torture, and interrogation rule changes with the abuse photographed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq four years ago. Much of the report remains classified. Unclassified portions of the report were released by the committee Thursday.
Administration officials publicly blamed the abuses on low-level soldiers-- the work ''of a few bad apples.'' Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., called that ''both unconscionable and false.''
The report comes as the Bush administration continues to delay and in some cases bar members of Congress from gaining access to key legal documents and memos about the detainee program, including an August 2002 memo that evaluated whether specific interrogation techniques proposed to be used by the CIA would constitute torture.
We knew that Bush was authorizing torture before we re-elected him in 2004. Many of his supporters chose to pretend that they didn't know, but many others backed Bush because of his torture policy. And even though reporters like James Risen and Seymour Hersh documented the atrocities and policies that authorized them, the Justice Depaatment and Republican congress refused to investigate.
In other words, just as Bush can't lay the blame for the torture on "a few bad apples" in the military, Americans can't lay the blame on "a few bad apples" within the Bush administration. Americans supported Bush despite his torture policy. In fact, his unpopularity has very little to do with the fact that he authorized torture. His slide in popularity is attributable to his incompetence in dealing with the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Hurricane Katrina. If Bush were halfway competent, Americans would be quite willing to overlook his brutality, just as the Russians and Chinese overlook the brutality of Putin and Hu.
The end of the Bush regime does not signal an end to America's torture policy, but only a suspension. We won't see an end to this ghastly practice until more Americans come to see that torture is never justified, and that it's something that no decent person engages in, authorizes, or condones.
(cross posted at appletree)