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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

 
Hindsight

by digby

The Armed Services Committee is holding hearings this morning on torture. The ranking Republican member couldn't make it. So he sent his faithful hound Huckleberry in his place.

The leading voice in the nation on the subject of torture, a living symbol of everything that is wrong with it, a man who cannot raise his arms above his head today because of the wounds he suffered under it, is out on the campaign trail today, ducking the subject. It seems his days of being a hero are long behind him.

Marcy Wheeler is live blogging it at her sites. Lots of interesting stuff, although most of it has been nicely compiled in Phillippe Sands' book Torture Team. Huckleberry is decrying the use of torture while saying it's all waterboarding under the bridge and there's no need to air all this dirty laundry and SERE experts are going on the record saying they were sent to Iraq to instruct interrogators (and participate as interrogators, which I'd never heard before) and more. The picture of Donald Rumsfeld, unsurprisingly, emerges as a psychotic freakshow. Lieberman is dancing on the head of a pin trying desperately to maintain the fiction that he is the moral voice of the Senate while he excuses torturing innocent people for information they don't have. (He, like his good friend Maverick, is going to hell for this.)

I think it may be particularly interesting to those who haven't been following this super closely to find out that a bunch of big shots in the Bush administration personally went down to Gitmo to observe the torture techniques in 2002.

If this were a Greek morality play, the chorus would be whispering "war crimes, war crimes, war crimes."

Here's an excerpt from Carl Levin's opening statement:

Just a couple of weeks ago I visited our troops in Afghanistan. While I was there I spoke to a senior intelligence officer who told me that treating detainees harshly is actually an impediment – a “roadblock” to use that officer’s word – to getting intelligence from them.
Here’s why, he said – al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists are taught to expect Americans to abuse them. They’re recruited based on false propaganda that says the United States is out to destroy Islam. Treating detainees harshly only reinforces their distorted view and increases their resistance to cooperate. The abuse at Abu Ghraib was a potent recruiting tool for al Qaeda and handed al Qaeda a propaganda weapon they could use to peddle their violent ideology.

So, how did it come about that American military personnel stripped detainees naked, put them in stress positions, used dogs to scare them, put leashes around their necks to humiliate them, hooded them, deprived them of sleep, and blasted music at them. Were these actions the result of “a few bad apples” acting on their own? It would be a lot easier to accept if it were. But that’s not the case. The truth is that senior officials in the United States government sought information on aggressive techniques, twisted the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. In the process, they damaged our ability to collect intelligence that could save lives.


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