diet coke for breakfast

Friday, June 18, 2004

Posted by Jake
Abu Gharib and Secret Prisoners

I have a problem with this and to avoid precipitating criticism that I have judged things to hastily, I will state the facts as I understand them.

1.) In December 2002, Rumsfeld authorizes the use of rigorous interogation tactics in Guantanamo including "the removal of clothing, the use of "stress positions," hooding, "fear of dogs," and "mild non-injurious physical contact." Even before that, the Journal reported, interrogators at Guantanamo forced prisoners to wear women's underwear on their heads."

2.) In early 2003, after objections by the military lawyers, Rumsfeld rescinded some of those techniques for Guantanamo.

3.) In August and September 2003, Gen Miller came from Guantanamo to Abu Gharib with the mandate to improve interrogations. He brought some of the techniques with him from Guantanamo. Gen Sanchez authorized the use of 5 out of 7 of the exceptional techniques used in Guantanamo previously.

4.) Further objection by military lawyers cause Sanchez to rescind these techniques in mid-October but they continue being used for reasons that are unclear.

5.) The Geneva Convention does not apply to people in Guantanamo but does to people in Iraq.

6.) Rumsfeld approved holding a detainee acquired by the CIA without the knowledge of the Red Cross.

If you dispute any of these, please let me know (I haven't read into it with nearly the detail that I should).

I have a problem with this behavior. I have a problem with it because it is bad policy. I have a problem with it because it goes against the intentions of the president that detainees be treated humanely.

I think this is bad policy because rules against torture are created not for the protection of the detainee but for the protection of Americans who may be captured abroad. Our ability to demand decent treatment of American detainees and hostages is compromised when we do not practice restraint with our detainees. Further, I think that the image of America as representative of democratic values is critical to our success in Iraq. I don't particularly care about world opinion when it comes to Europe, but I do care that the people in Iraq grow to respect their democratic government. As that government is being imposed by us, I think that winning their respect is a necessary part of our mission and necessary to the success of any furture Iraqi government.

I understand why the Defense Department might want to rigorously question detainees. They believe that information they might have will give us knowledge of enemy operations that might ultimately advance our mission and save American lives. A year ago, I would have absolutely agreed with the application of such tactics both in Guantanamo and Iraq. But I think I was wrong. The application of such tactics, while provided a short-term gain in the form of valuable information will ultimately result in the loss of more American lives than it would save. It will spur more people to fight the new government longer and more vigorously.

And I more and more take issue with Donald Rumsfeld. I was willing to accept that it was a few bad apples when it wasn't clear that Rumsfeld knew anything about what was happening there. But what has become clear is that Rumsfeld was responsible for the policies that encouraged this type of behavior, and he is fully aware of the ghost detainees.

I credit him for a great deal of success in the war and to a degree the post-war planning. But this is bad policy, and a bad policy that has had large consequences. He deserved to be criticized for that, and if he is unwilling to facilitate a radical change in that policy, he needs to step down.

My suspicion is that you will strenuously disagree with this opinion, but enough is enough. There is only a point to which you can justify behavior, and I think we have pretty well crossed it.


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