Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Torture Came From The Top

Two branches of the torture story came together tonight on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. Both the CIA interrogators and the Defense Department interrogators veered into the use of torture at about the same time. Independently? Or were they linked?

Today's release of the declassified November 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report, "INQUIRY INTO THE TREATMENT OF DETAINEES IN U.S. CUSTODY", explained how they were linked.

It was at the top.

President Bush's Office of Legal Counsel wrote the memos that stretched the law. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld took them to his people. CIA Director Tenet took them to his. Torture had already started, and they wanted legal cover for what they were already doing.

Torture was a trickle-down affair.

Also, Rachel notices, the answer to the mystery of why our interrogators chose to use the same methods that the Chinese had used in the 1950's to generate false confessions by brainwashing has become apparent. The Bush Administration at that time was intent on war with Iraq. It was trying to produce confessions linking Al Qaeda to Iraq to justify our invasion.

They were having a terrible time getting those confessions, so they had to try really hard. That didn't work either, though. Darn.

So now, former Vice President Cheney is hitting the talk show circuit, doing his best to
"...take the battle to the enemy and, where necessary, preempt grave threats to our country before they materialize."
Nothing new. Except the threats are now to Cheney's freedom.

The ACLU has a series of torture document requests queued up in court. The Attorney General can stop fighting the release of any of these at will.

Yesterday, the news was that President Obama cannot tell his Attorney General what to do. (Jeepers, Bush could sure tell Gonzales what to do.) AG Holder says that if laws were broken, they must be enforced. Obama doesn't want the little guys hurt. Rahm Emmanuel doesn't want the big guys hurt either. But his opinion turned out not to matter. The law is the law, in this administration. Holder decides.

Today, former Brigadier General Janice Karpinski, the one-time commander of Abu Ghraib, called for a tribunal of representatives from the Iraq Coalition countries to investigate our torturing ways. These countries invested their money and their people in our war. Our torturing ways invited invited radical recruits to attack these donated soldiers as well as attacking our own. These countries we misled should judge our war crimes.

Having seen her own soldiers put in jail for following orders that came from Washington, Karpinski is also strongly insistant that if CIA staffers who tortured are not to be indicted, as Obama has promised, then her soldiers who tortured and were convicted should now be set free. Both were only following orders.

The big guys should go down. More and more people agree. Every day they're switching.

Liberating the rank-and-file torturers requires nailing the big guys who told them to do it - and who also then put them in jail when Abu Ghraib was discovered. Severing the head from the body of the torture monster will turn the body against the head.

Both torturers and torture-requisitioners should never leave this country again. Will we extricate them by force if they are arrested abroad? All our Geneva co-signatories are required to arrest and try them. So stay home and enjoy America's beauty, folks.

As conservative news commentators and guests line up to take ever-more solid positions in support of the good that torture has brought to this country, ACLU lawsuits bring the release of almost-daily news bombs about what really happened.

Fox News' Glenn Beck was captured saying on his show that torture is optional for our government. Not a fact. Fox's Sean Hannity has volunteered to be waterboarded to prove that it's not torture. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann is taking him up on it, offering a $1000 donation to charity for every second Hannity stays under the wet handkerchief.

Even then, they will waterboard Hannity only a few seconds, not until his blood oxygen starts to fail. That's the boundary we've been using. Our medical technicians put an oxygen sensor on a detainee's fingertip and informed the torturers when their client was starting to die.

Torture is not a legal option.

Tomorrow... and tomorrow... will Cheney wander Washington, ever more alone, lying to those who will listen, until his sorry rep becomes such a walking joke that no one will invite him in for lunch?

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