Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yes We Can Prosecute the Lawbreakers

Report Details Pentagon Role in Torture Tactics (TIME)

The article referenced above ends with the following paragraph, but I begin with it because it should have been a clue upon initial consideration of this plan by any logical, thinking person that the road upon which the CIA, US Military, DOD and DOJ were about to embark, was the WRONG WAY.

…the torture techniques around which the SERE training was devised were used by Chinese interrogators during the Korean War, not to gather actionable intelligence but to force false confessions from captured U.S. soldiers - confessions that could then be used in anti-American propaganda.

While much of the controversy over interrogation and detention practices at Guantanamo has centered on the CIA, the SASC [Senate Armed Services Committee] report puts the spotlight firmly on the Pentagon - specifically on former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his DOD lawyer Jim Haynes, his policy chief Douglas Feith, Guantanamo commanders Major General Michael Dunleavy and Major General Geoffrey Miller, and a raft of other DOD officials.

We have some of the names now; let’s get on with it.

Who in the world (well, besides the three stooges that we will discuss later) can possibly object to an investigation and prosecution into the ordering and carrying out of illegal, immoral torture policies? At the outset we must be dealing with CRIMINALLY NEGLIGENT STUPIDITY on the part of whoever had this bright notion. Supposedly, the DOD consulted with the “experts” that were running these training programs, but-

…many SERE experts and military lawyers raised concerns about and objections to this reverse engineering of techniques used in courses to train Americans to survive captures by communist regimes.

Obviously, the DOD, and subsequently the DOJ, were either negligently or purposefully misinformed about the supposed advice and consent of the SERE experts. It’s repeated over and over in the DOJ memos that these folks didn’t see a problem with using these methods in our interrogations.

Is it surprising that the objections were never mentioned previously? The fact that there is now evidence of objection to these practices by the very people that DOD and DOJ were citing in support of these practices, indicates the need for further investigation into the matter.

It has been alleged multiple times that a member or members of the Bush Administration “cooked” the intelligence that was the “stated reason” for our war in Iraq. It seems very plausible that this is another instance of asking around until you get the answer you want and going with that, regardless of the objection of others.

…in December 2001,… the DOD's office of general counsel asked the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), which oversees the SERE program, about detainee "exploitation."

According to the Senate Report, this is where the idea was hatched. But whose idea was this to begin with? It seems to have started with Rumsfeld. If the Senate Armed Services Committee has enough evidence to state that it started with the DOD’s office of general counsel, they surely must know who originally ordered this request regarding “exploitation.” Let’s have names, dates and start interviewing witnesses.

The following speaks for itself…

Within a few months, SERE trainers were training military interrogators bound for Gitmo. (The JPRA would also pass on its expertise to the CIA.)

Soon afterward, the first alarms began to sound. Jerald Ogrisseg, an Air Force SERE psychologist, warned JPRA chief of staff Daniel Baumgartner that waterboarding detainees was illegal.

In October 2002, Lieut. Colonel Morgan Banks, an Army SERE psychologist, warned officials at Gitmo of the risks of using SERE techniques for interrogation, pointing out that even with the Army's careful monitoring, injuries and accidents did happen. "The risk with real detainees is increased exponentially," he wrote.

by then, the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) had already issued two legal opinions, signed by Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, declaring that the techniques did not amount to torture.

JPRA training for Gitmo interrogators was stepped up.

In December 2002, with Rumsfeld's authorization, officials of the Joint Task Force at Gitmo devised a standard operating procedure for the use of many SERE techniques to interrogate detainees.

Rumsfeld would rescind his authorization in a manner of weeks, after the Navy General Counsel, Alberto Mora, raised concerns about many techniques, arguing that they violated U.S. and international laws and constituted, at worst, torture. Mora met Haynes and warned him that the "interrogation policies could threaten [Rumsfeld's] tenure and could even damage the presidency."

Here’s the timeline so far: starting in December 2001, the Department of Defense expressed interest in using “special interrogation techniques” (my terminology) on prisoners captured in Afghanistan. “Within months” specialized training for use of these techniques was put in place in Guantanamo and CIA training began. Shortly thereafter, an Air Force SERE psychologist warned that use of these techniques would constitute torture. In October 2002, an Army SERE psychologist warned that these techniques were dangerous. DOJ had already issued two memos declaring torture legal, so, rather than scaling back, stopping to consider or ending these “enhanced interrogation techniques,” SERE training was stepped up. Within a year of the original request, these techniques were Standard Operating Procedure at Gitmo and were subsequently “went viral” at sites around the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq. Then Navy General Counsel raised concerns and Rummy changed his mind a few weeks later.

It would be very important to see when the first warning was sounded in relation to the first DOJ memo being released. Was the memo a response to this particular warning? And how many more objections were made that we have not heard about yet? By the time Mora raised his objections, it was too late to undo the damage that had been done. And even after Rumsfeld in January 2003 rescinded the authority for the use of SERE techniques at Gitmo, they remained in use in Afghanistan, and later in Iraq.

Since Rumsfeld never declared these techniques illegal, military lawyers down the line were able to cite his original authorization as Pentagon policy. JPRA instructors would eventually travel to Iraq to train military interrogators there.

We need a concrete timeline of when these things took place and under whose orders. If Rumsfeld and the DOD had “rescinded authority” for these techniques in January 2003, anyone employing them after that date has NO STANDING WHATSOEVER.

In the summer of 2004, the JPRA was even considering sending trainers to Afghanistan, prompting another SERE psychologist, Colonel Kenneth Rollins, to warn his colleagues by e-mail: "[W]e need to really stress the difference between what instructors do at SERE school (done to INCREASE RESISTANCE capability in students) versus what is taught at interrogator school (done to gather information). What is done by SERE instructors is by definition ineffective interrogator conduct. Simply stated, SERE school does not train you on how to interrogate, and things you 'learn' there by osmosis about interrogation are probably wrong if copied by interrogators."

In spite of all this new information, the knee-jerk reaction of many conservatives is to bury their head in the sand. They don’t want to examine how this happened, analyze the processes and determine responsibility. The “law and order” crowd isn’t concerned about whether laws were broken. The “mandatory punishment” crowd wants to look the other way. The party of “lying about extra-marital sex is an impeachable offense” wants to forgive and forget; let by-gones be by-gones on this torture thing. After all, they are still buying and selling the lie that this activity kept us safe somehow. I bring you..



US senators urge no prosecutions for 'torture' memo writers (AFP)

Three US senators urged…in a letter Wednesday not to prosecute Bush-era government lawyers who declared harsh interrogation tactics…
"In the interest of national security, it is the future, rather than the past, on which we believe America’s gaze must be fixed," said Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham, [and] Joseph Lieberman, an independent.

Their reasoning for this lenient posture is weak, at best and barely reasoned. They attempt to twist meticulous analysis, tortured reasoning, criminal negligence and possible fraud into something akin to “a mistake.”

"Pursuing such prosecutions would, we believe, have serious negative effects on the candor with which officials in any administration provide their best advice, and would take our country in a backward-looking direction at a time when our detainee-related challenges demand that we look forward," they said.

The lawmakers, who also opposed the creation of a commission to look into controversial "war on terrorism" tactics of the past eight years, said they opposed the harsh tactics and found some of the legal reasoning to be wrong.

"Providing poor legal advice is always undesirable," they said, "but that is a quite a different matter from making legal advice with which we may disagree into a crime."

First of all, poor legal advice is one thing, but negligence and/or fraud are quite another matter. Considering the law, which the LAWYERS in the Department of Justice were supposed to be doing, almost anyone would have come to the conclusion that these "techniques" could be considered torture.

It was not just the U.S. Constitution, not just the U.S. Code, not just the Military Code, not just the Geneva Conventions, but all of these things taken together that should have given anyone with common sense, nevermind anyone with a LAW degree pause about what was being requested. Case law, they said was lacking, but clearly it was not. These same "techniques" have been litigated within this country and within the international community. Clearly, one would have to be BLIND, STUPID, negligently inept or fraudulently mendacious to come to the conclusions that were stated over and over again in the DOJ memos.

Two of the three stooges belong to a party that performed a government witch hunt into consensual sex which took place in a private area inside the White House between two consenting adults. Lying about extra-marital sex is an impeachable offense but encouraging, supporting, ordering, providing training and permission for torture are not punishable offenses? This is pure hypocrisy and an insult to the intelligence of the American people. How did these three stooges vote on the blow job?

Lieberman voted Not Guilty on impeachment for Clinton, but McCain voted Guilty and Lindsey Graham was a PROSECUTOR on the case for all intents and purposes. We have at least Two major hypocrites here.

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