Looking In The Rearview Mirror

by digby

... and seeing carnage in your wake.

Today the ACLU and many bloggers who are concerned with the fact that the United States tortured prisoners and apparently has no intention of holding anyone responsible for it are blogging about a little known fact about the issue: the US Government didn't just torture a bunch a prisoners, as bad as that was, and as horrible as it remains for those who survived it. The United States tortured many prisoners to death. This does not seem to be common knowledge, but the evidence is quite clear that this happened. Torture and death by torture was not isolated.

I know that in the fog of war and all that that killing becomes normal and people become uncivilized. But torturing prisoners to death is not considered legal warfare. It's a crime, even in war and even on the battlefield, and we have prosecuted people for it as a capital crime.

Here's Glenn Greenwald:

So often, the premise of media discussions of torture is that "torture" is something that was confined to a single tactic (waterboarding) and used only on three "high-value" detainees accused of being high-level Al Qaeda operatives. The reality is completely different.

The interrogation and detention regime implemented by the U.S. resulted in the deaths of over 100 detainees in U.S. custody -- at least. While some of those deaths were the result of "rogue" interrogators and agents, many were caused by the methods authorized at the highest levels of the Bush White House, including extreme stress positions, hypothermia, sleep deprivation and others. Aside from the fact that they cause immense pain, that's one reason we've always considered those tactics to be "torture" when used by others -- because they inflict serious harm, and can even kill people. Those arguing against investigations and prosecutions -- that we Look to the Future, not the Past -- are thus literally advocating that numerous people get away with murder.

Once the White House capitulated on the remaining Iraq abuse photos, I pretty much knew that they would never release any kind of damning information and more or less assumed that the vaunted CIA Inspector Generals Report from 2004, which supposedly blows the lid off the torture regime, would never see the light of day in any detail. The same goes for the DOJ IG report. They'll release something, I assume, but it will not be the straight story. I expect I will be dead before the whole story is officially revealed and confirmed.

Tomorrow they are expected to release the CIA report, heavily redacted and almost certainly useless. (Marcy Wheeler will, of course, be poring over it with a fine tooth comb and you never know what she might find. But I don't think they're going to be quite a sloppy as they were the last time.) They surely hope that is the end of it. But it isn't. There are too many people involved and too much evidence to keep it covered up. By refusing to lance this boil they are allowing the poison to continue to infect everything until the whole body politic is putrid with it. It's a big mistake.

Here's hoping I'm wrong about that and they let the people see what has been done in their names. We deserve to know and the tortured dead deserve some justice. And if we want to just deal in pragmatic concerns, if anyone thinks that refusing to hold people accountable for what happened and showing the world that we can be trusted to civilized at least after the fact doesn't make us less safe, they are out of their minds. This is how countries become pariah states.

The United States went crazy after 9/11 and tortured many, many people, at least a hundred of them to death. It happened. How do we live with that?