Report Blames Rumsfeld for Detainee Abuses

As BTD noted below, a bipartisan Senate Committee has released a new report on the Administration's abuse of detainees in Iraq and at Guantanamo. Senator Carl Levin's press release is here. From WaPo:

The Senate Armed Services Committee report accuses Rumsfeld and his deputies of being the principal architects of the plan to use harsh interrogation techniques on captured fighters and terrorism suspects, rejecting the Bush administration's contention that the policies originated lower down the command chain.

"The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own," the panel concludes. "The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees."

How it began: [More...]

The true genesis of the decision to use coercive techniques, the report said, was a memo signed by President Bush on Feb. 7, 2002, declaring that the Geneva Convention's standards for humane treatment did not apply to captured al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. As early as that spring, the panel said, top administration officials, including National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, participated in meetings in which the use of coercive measures was discussed. The panel drew on a written statement by Rice, released earlier this year, to support that conclusion.

In July 2002, Rumseld's senior staff began compiling information about techniques used in military survival schools to simulate conditions that U.S. airmen might face if captured by an enemy that did not follow the Geneva conditions. Those techniques -- borrowed from a training program known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE -- included waterboarding, or simulated drowning, and were loosely based on methods adopted by Chinese communists to coerce propaganda confessions from captured U.S. soldiers during the Korean war.

The SERE program became the template for interrogation methods that were ultimately approved by Rumsfeld himself, the report says. In the field, U.S. military interrogators used the techniques with little oversight and frequently abusive results, the panel found.

The Center for Constitutional Rights responds to the report:

There is no question that Rumsfeld and the others must be held accountable, and it must be before a court of law. There must be consequences for their illegal activities. A special prosecutor should be appointed. To do otherwise is to send a message of impunity that will only embolden future administrations to again engage in serious violations of the law.

The report is highly critical of the information obtained through these techniques, noting they were based on Chinese Communist methods employed to obtain false confessions. Professional interrogators agree that the fastest way to get the best information from a prisoner is through building trust and rapport, not torture. The recognition of the illegality and unreliability of this kind of evidence is critical in the cases of some of our clients, like Mohammed al Qahtani. We hope the courts and the next administration take notice and take action.

The ACLU is calling for an outside special prosecutor.

Accountability would be great but I'm too cyncial to expect it. But we can keep the story on the front page in hopes others won't dare try to get away with these abuses.

And there must be consequences, such as barring the use of evidence obtained by these techniques in any proceeding....even if it means that accused terrorists are not held accountable. Put the blame on Rumsfeld, where it belongs. The buck stopped with him.

< BushCo Authorized "Aggressive Interrogation;" But Do Dems Want To Stop It? | Jesse Jackson, Sr. Denies Being Emissary for His Son >
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    To The Hauge with them! Like that'll happen..... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by jawbone on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 02:47:15 PM EST
    No, there will be pardons. Preemptive, preventive, whatever type pardons.

    And the rest of the world will not want to bother Obama with such ugly leftovers from BushCo. Nor will Obama want to deal with the crimes of the BushCo years.

    So...nothing. Maybe a wee amount of inconvenience in staying away from certain countries, even stopovers at their airports. But that will be it.

    Huge, monstrous crimes tend to go unpunished.

    The book gets thrown at some poor person connected in any way to drugs.

    Darn typo--To The Hague! n/t (none / 0) (#13)
    by jawbone on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 02:48:01 PM EST
    could this have waited... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Salo on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 09:44:48 PM EST
    ...until Bush loses his pardoning powers?

    What good is all this news (none / 0) (#2)
    by Saul on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 09:49:11 PM EST
    now.  No one will be held accountable anyway.  Bush, Cheney, Gonzalez, Scooter, etc etc the list goes on.  

    If accountability and accusing them of wrongdoing did not happen while they were in office it an't going to happen now.

    Before Bush leave office he will give a preemptive blanket pardon to all his friends listed above.

    At the risk of overstating the case... (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 01:40:52 AM EST
    History obliges us to chronicle the atrocities of our time, no less than an earlier generation had an obligation to record the barbarities of WW11.

    Imo, we must expose and confront the full extent of the criminality that has ensued during the Cheney/Bush era; even in the absence of any legal proceeding that would even faintly resemble the Nuremberg trials.


    It may make future administrations think twice (none / 0) (#3)
    by ruffian on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 09:53:37 PM EST
    One can only hope.

    Only if they saw actual punishments (none / 0) (#9)
    by Saul on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 08:52:09 AM EST
    for prior actions would make them think.  If they see that a prior administration got away with murder they might just try it also.  So in the absence of no consequences for your bad actions there will be no deterrent.

    Concur--with no real consequences for Iran-Contra, (none / 0) (#11)
    by jawbone on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 02:43:32 PM EST
    the same players came back, with slightly different tactics but the same strategies.  And look how well that worked out.

    But the MCM declared there was scandal fatigue, and stopped real reporting and informed people that nothing ought to be done.


    As a defense lawyer (none / 0) (#4)
    by abdiel on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 12:20:23 AM EST
    what do you think Rumsfeld's defense will be if he is put to trial?

    Does he have a viable position where he could prevail without you being depressed about lack of accountability?

    It's actually perfect timing (none / 0) (#6)
    by DeanOR on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 02:43:10 AM EST
    now that they are gone or on their way out. I can hear it now. Bush can now justify pardoning them to protect them from any future consequences of this outrageous excess by the Congress. I don't think the Senators use the T word anyway, so it's just a matter of being "harsh" - no biggie, but Bush has to pardon them (and himself?) so that they are not victimized just for being strong on national security and protecting America.
    Move along folks, nothing to see here. We're moving forward, not playing the blame game. Consequences are for the little people.


    The buck did not stop with him (none / 0) (#7)
    by Andreas on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 04:31:20 AM EST
    Jeralyn wrote: "The buck stopped with him."

    This is wrong.

    George Walker Bush and Richard Cheney are also responsible and we should not forget the representatives of the Democratic Party who agreed (and demanded) that prisoners are tortured.

    No Pardon For Bush (none / 0) (#8)
    by mmc9431 on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 06:10:45 AM EST
    Calling torture "enhanced interogation" doesn't change a thing. It's still torture. Those responsible for implementing or condoning this policy have to be held accountable.

    I don't believe a president can pardon himself. If he does a blanket pardon of the criminal acts of his administration, he can't include himself. Bush is the Commander in Chief. He's the one to be held accountable.

    This is not the first time that I've heard (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 10:57:34 AM EST
    that the SERE program became the template for interrogation methods.  I can't remember where I heard about it the first time but it was about two years ago.  Probably was a leak that everyone was mulling over.  Will Rumsfeld ever be brought to justice though?

    Mark Benjamin (none / 0) (#14)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 04:35:04 PM EST
    In Salon 2006?  Or Janet Mayer in the NYer 2005?

    You are on top of it :) (none / 0) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 08:47:08 PM EST
    I don't blog much anymore so thanks for the links to the articles.  SERE training is something you volunteer for though, it isn't something that happens to you against your will.  It is also my observation that people who desire and go through such training are frighteningly flawed in socially interactive ways.  I don't know if they were that way before the training or the training brought them to it, but they are very out of touch with their feelings.  They are very analytical but I have never known one to be happily married and they usually end up with a list of abuse complaints from the people who end up spending their lives with them.  They don't seem to know where the line is and the difference between discipline and abuse.  Whether that line was already distorted or became that way after SERE training I don't know.