Tuesday :: Jun 14, 2005

Bonfires By the Vanities

by larre

Here's an easy prediction: As Bush's popularity wanes and nearly two-thirds of the public disapproves of the Republican-dominated Congress, in the last two years of the Bush Administration bonfires will start blazing in the offices of all the Neocons who face possible arrest and prosecution as war criminals. Nervous about trusting that the electorate will send to the White House another cover-up artist like Bush I, who pardoned Caspar Weinberger for his Iran-Contra perjury (and thereby let Colin Powell off the hook as well) they will do all they can to destroy -- not "seal" but destroy -- evidence that could send them to prison.

Although there is much in the public domain, already, that would justify indictment of many of the neocon warmongers, it's probably just the tip of the iceberg. How much more evidence remains to be uncovered may never be known -- not with most of our pusillanimous press asleep in the White House shrine.

Such dark thoughts are inspired by Matthew Rothschild's July article in The Progressive. There, he assembles a thorough comparison of previous congressional testimony by Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and concludes there is a strong case to be made that they have committed perjury.

When Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last year, he was asked whether he "ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise, and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison." Sanchez, who was head of the Pentagon’s Combined Joint Task Force-7 in Iraq, swore the answer was no. Under oath, he told the Senators he "never approved any of those measures to be used."

But a document the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) obtained from the Pentagon flat out contradicts Sanchez’s testimony. It’s a memorandum entitled "CJTF-7 Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy," dated September 14, 2003. In it, Sanchez approved several methods designed for "significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee." These included "sleep management"; "yelling, loud music, and light control: used to create fear, disorient detainee, and prolong capture shock"; and "presence of military working dogs: exploits Arab fear of dogs."
Gonzales, also, appears to have perjured himself in earlier congressional testimony:
According to a March 6 article in The New York Times, Gonzales submitted written testimony that said: "The policy of the United States is not to transfer individuals to countries where we believe they likely will be tortured, whether those individuals are being transferred from inside or outside the United States." He added that he was "not aware of anyone in the executive branch authorizing any transfer of a detainee in violation of that policy."

"That’s a clear, absolute lie," says Michael Ratner, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who is suing Administration officials for their involvement in the torture scandal. "The Administration has a policy of sending people to countries where there is a likelihood that they will be tortured."

The New York Times article backs up Ratner’s claim. It says "a still-classified directive signed by President Bush within days of the September 11 attacks" gave the CIA broad authority to transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogations. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International estimate that the United States has transferred between 100 and 150 detainees to countries notorious for torture.

Rumsfeld, Rothschild suggests, may be directly liable for specific orders verified by his own handwriting.
  • On December 2, 2002, he expressly authorized a list of interrogation techniques including the use of stress positions, deprivation of light and auditory stimuli, isolation up to 30 days, and using dogs to induce stress.
  • He specifically approved "interrogation plans" for two ‘high-value detainees’ that "likely" violated the Geneva Conventions.
  • And it appears he personally ordered the detention of at least one Iraqi detainee to be kept secret from the Red Cross for seven months, yet another violation of international conventions.
Evidence of George W. Bush's direct complicity in war crimes is harder to come by because as president he has not been subjected to examination under oath. But Rothschild finds ample grounds for suspecting Bush himself is in writing -- and possibly on tape-- issuing unlawful detention orders.

Bad as they are, the crimes of the Bush administration's prisoner detention policies could pale before other actions like initiating the Iraq War in the first place, trying to destabilize the democratically-elected government of Venezuela, and handing large parts of U.S. Treasury over to the likes of Halliburton. So, as the administration senses its grip on the White House slipping, the Neocons will have to start lighting a very large number of bonfires and wiping out vast fields of computer servers.

Or, maybe not. Maybe all they will have to do is suddenly raise the Homeland Security color code again.

larre :: 6:49 AM :: Comments (15) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!