But Rumsfeld did not confine himself to general principles of torture. He sometimes took a keenly personal interest as well:
Additionally, a Dec. 20, 2005, Army Inspector General Report relating to the capture and interrogation of suspected terrorist Mohammad al-Qahtani included a sworn statement by Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt. It said Secretary Rumsfeld was “personally involved” in the interrogation of al-Qahtani and spoke “weekly” with Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the commander at Guantanamo, about the status of the interrogations between late 2002 and early 2003.
Gitanjali S. Gutierrez, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights who represents al-Qahtani, said in a sworn declaration that his client, imprisoned at Guantanamo, was subjected to months of torture based on verbal and written authorizations from Rumsfeld.
“At Guantánamo, Mr. al-Qahtani was subjected to a regime of aggressive interrogation techniques, known as the ‘First Special Interrogation Plan,’ that were authorized by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,” Gutierrez said.
“Those techniques were implemented under the supervision and guidance of Secretary Rumsfeld and the commander of Guantánamo, Major General Geoffrey Miller. These methods included, but were not limited to, 48 days of severe sleep deprivation and 20-hour interrogations, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, physical force, prolonged stress positions and prolonged sensory over-stimulation, and threats with military dogs.”
We know that President Obama and leading Democrats believe that no one should be prosecuted for these putrid atrocities. As the progressive president himself reminded us just the other day, his "general orientation" is to "move forward," not look back at such unseemly matters as a widespread system of torture and murder created by the top officials of the government which he now heads. And the most that any Democrat with even a modicum of influence – Sen. Patrick Leahy – is willing to do is to suggest setting up a "truth commission" that will punish no one for their base crimes. A shameful situation all around.
But in keeping with the spirit of comity and cooperation that exemplifies our new era – an era whose motto, also stated by the president, is "do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good" – we would like to suggest a compromise. It is obvious that there is no political will amongst our great and good to launch a wide-ranging criminal prosecution of the atrocities that have been so well documented. It's just not going to happen. Yet it is also clear that a majority of the American people do want to see some sort of investigation and redress of these high crimes, as USA Today reports. So why don't we split the difference, in the good-old fashioned time-honored tradition of the Beltway's beloved centrists? Let's take one high-level fall guy and put him through the legal meat-grinder: investigate him, try him, and put him in prison for the rest of his life, as a symbol that "no one is above the law."
Sure, it will be a sham; all kinds of powerful people will continue to get away, literally, with murder, because they are, literally, above the law. But the folks at home can go back to believing they are living in the last best greatest whizbang God-blessed happy valley homeland on earth, and stop pestering their betters with all this sissy handwringing about torture. The Republicans can claim they got rid of their "bad apple," and the Democrats can claim they have "restored American honor." Most importantly, at least one of these bloodstained putzes will get what's coming to him. As the Scarlet Pimpernel would say: Odd's fish, that's something, isn't it? It's certainly better than no justice at all – which is precisely what we will get if our "forward-looking" president and our toothless "truth commissioners" have their way.
So I hereby nominate Donald Henry Rumsfeld to be the designated sacrifice of the American elite to expiate the blood guilt of the United States government (at least for a few news cycles). It is an honor that he richly deserves; why, one might say that he made love to this employment.
We wait with bated breath for the White House to act upon this bold, bipartisan compromise.
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This story was published on February 14, 2009.