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.
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