Who Knew?

by digby

They all did:

Today Seton Hall Law delivered a report establishing that military officials at the highest levels were aware of the abusive interrogation techniques employed at the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay (GTMO), and misled Congress during testimony. In addition, FBI personnel reported that the information obtained from inhumane interrogations was unreliable.

Professor Mark Denbeaux, Director of the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research, commented on the findings: "Who knew about the torture at GTMO? Turns out they all did. It's not news that the interrogators were torturing and abusing detainees. We've got FBI reports attesting to this. But now we've discovered that the highest levels knew about the torture and abuse, and covered it up.

"Abu Ghraib was the flashpoint and provoked the FBI to formally hand its reports to the DOD, which in turn forced the DOD to respond with what became known as the Schmidt Report. Schmidt's investigation was essentially a whitewash, but, ironically, the abuse was so pervasive that his team turned up still more incidents. To conceal the problems documented by both the FBI and the military, the DOD published an incomplete, sanitized report, culminating in Schmidt testifying before Congress that there was no torture or abuse at GTMO.

"Five generals were either complicit in the abusive interrogation techniques or were central figures in their cover-up. They concealed these practices from Congress, to which they are ultimately accountable. They undermined our democracy, and undercut America's claim to the moral high ground in the fight against terror."

Just in case anyone is still unaware of what it is they covered up and the government is continuing to cover up:

FBI personnel stationed at GTMO submitted a series of unsolicited reports describing at least 118 improper interrogation techniques: physical harm to the genitals--to a degree punishable by life imprisonment as sexual assault under military law; forced viewings of homosexual pornography; denial of food and water; disorientation techniques such as sleep deprivation; and religious abuse such as forced "satanic baptisms."


In December 2004, General Bantz J. Craddock, then U.S Southern Command leader, commissioned Generals Furlowe and Schmidt to investigate an FBI report and publish a report in response.

Independent of the FBI findings, the Schmidt investigation uncovered 79 additional incidents of improper interrogation techniques which included 15 allegations of sexual abuse.

Once submitted to Congress, however, the Schmidt Report asserted that there is "no evidence" that "torture or inhumane treatment occurred at Guantánamo." General Schmidt then reiterated these misleading findings to Congress.

Back in the day, I used to write a lot about the obsession the US authorities seemed to have with sexual abuse. I theorized it came in some part from a sort of primitive notion of what "arabs really feared" based upon a discredited book called "The Arab Mind" --- which Bush administration loons passed around the Pentagon. It wouldn't be surprising to learn that the Generals who were aware of the torture were also those who subscribed to the "we need to scare the hell out of the wogs" shock 'n awe theory of warfare.

In any case, the war crimes are piling up. And the oft-repeated trope that "the United States doesn't torture" rings more hollow every day.

Update: And here's nightmare Part II

The Justice Department improperly withheld important psychiatric records of a government witness who was used in a "significant" number of Guantanamo cases, a federal judge has concluded.

The government censored parts of the records, but enough has been made public that it's clear that the witness, a fellow detainee, was being treated weekly for a serious psychological problem and was questioned about whether he had any suicidal thoughts. The witness provided information in the government's case for detaining Aymen Saeed Batarfi, a Yemeni doctor who the government announced last week it would no longer seek to detain.

In a little-noticed ruling last week, Judge Emmet Sullivan found that the witness's testimony in other cases could be challenged as unreliable.

During a hearing last week, Sullivan castigated the government for not turning over the medical records and ordered department lawyers to explain why he shouldn't cite them for contempt of court.

"To hide relevant and exculpatory evidence from counsel and from the court under any circumstances, particularly here where there is no other means to discover this information and where the stakes are so very high . . . is fundamentally unjust, outrageous and will not be tolerated," Sullivan said, according to a transcript of the hearing.

"How can this court have any confidence whatsoever in the United States government to comply with its obligations and to be truthful to the court?"

He also criticized the government for deciding at the last minute to drop the case against Batarfi, who's been held at Guantanamo for seven years, and questioned its motives for doing so. He suggested that the government's announced plans to seek a country that would take Batarfi were really just a scheme to continue to detain him without due process.


"I'm not going to continue to tolerate indefinite delay on the part of the United States government," Sullivan said. "I mean this Guantanamo issue is a travesty . . . a horror story . . . and I'm not going to buy into an extended indefinite delay of this man's stay at Guantanamo."

It's unclear what information the witness, who wasn't named, provided against Batarfi or the other detainees. Separately, the Justice Department decided last week to release Batarfi, signaling that it no longer had sufficient evidence that he was an enemy combatant although he was held for seven years.

Seven ... years. Horror story indeed.

h/t to bb