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  Getting the Goat: A Bipartisan Proposal on Torture
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REVULSION:

Getting the Goat: A Bipartisan Proposal on Torture

Accepting Torture as “U.S. Policy” Will Not Absolve U.S. Participants of International War Crimes

by Chris Floyd
Friday, 13 February 2009
Bush and Rumsfeld prioritize torture as standard policy.
“Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals don’t stop there—many of them move on to their fellow humans.”
Jason Leopold has the low-down on some more smoking guns proving the highest level involvement in some of the basest tortures in the American gulag. In this case, we have more documentary evidence, gathered by the Pentagon's own investigators, linking former Pentagon honcho Donald Rumsfeld – the preppy pipsqueak who nosed his way through blood and filth for decades at the center of the American power structure – to the criminal abuse and murder of several prisoners by government goons who were following Rummy's "Special Interrogation Plan." As Leopold reports, those documents which span thousands of pages include:
  • Investigation of two deaths at Bagram. Both detainees were determined to have been killed by pulmonary embolism caused as a result of standing chained in place, sleep depravation and dozens of beatings by guards and possibly interrogators. (Also reveals the use of torture at Gitmo and American-Afghani prisons in Kabul).
  • Investigation into the homicide or involuntary manslaughter of detainee Dilar Dababa by U.S. forces in 2003 in Iraq.
  • Investigation launched after allegations that an Iraqi prisoner was subjected to torture and abuse at “The Disco” (located in the Special Operations Force Compound in Mosul Airfield, Mosul, Iraq). The abuse consisted of filling his jumpsuit with ice, then hosing him down and making him stand for long periods of time, sometimes in front of an air conditioner; forcing him to lay down and drink water until he gagged, vomited or choked, having his head banged against a hot steel plate while hooded and interrogated; being forced to do leg lifts with bags of ice placed on his ankles, and being kicked when he could not do more.
  • Investigation of allegations of torture and abuse that took place in 2003 at Abu Ghraib.
  • Investigation that established probable cause to believe that U.S. forces committed homicide in 2003 when they participated in the binding of detainee Abed Mowhoush in a sleeping bag during an interrogation, causing him to die of asphyxiation.
  • A separate report issued by Army Maj. Gen. George R. Fay several years ago said Other prisoner abuses resulted from Rumsfeld’s verbal and written authorization in December 2002 allowing interrogators to use “stress positions, isolation for up to 30 days, removal of clothing and the use of detainees' phobias (such as the use of dogs).”
  • ...Rumsfeld’s approval of certain interrogation methods outlined in a December 2002 action memorandum was criticized by Alberto Mora, the former general counsel of the Navy.
  • “The interrogation techniques approved by the Secretary [of Defense] should not have been authorized because some (but not all) of them, whether applied singly or in combination, could produce effects reaching the level of torture, a degree of mistreatment not otherwise proscribed by the memo because it did not articulate any bright-line standard for prohibited detainee treatment, a necessary element in any such document,” Mora wrote in a 14-page letter to the Navy’s inspector general.

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.”

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.

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.


Chris Floyd at his deskChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.



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This story was published on February 14, 2009.

 



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