Thursday :: May 22, 2008


by Turkana

Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants everyone to know that Guantanamo is no longer his fault. Or Bush's fault. They're just innocently trying to do something about a problem not of their own making. Seriously. As reported by the BBC:

Mr Gates told a US Senate hearing: "The brutally frank answer is that we're stuck... We have a serious 'not in my backyard' problem.

"Either their home government won't accept them or we're concerned that the home government will let them loose once we return them home," he said.

Gosh. Almost makes you feel sorry for him. Almost. Or something.

"What do you do with that irreducible 70 or 80 who you cannot let loose but will not be charged and will not be sent home?" he asked.

Which is such a lovely sentence, because it encapsulates so much about the man's "thinking." These prisoners can't be let loose, but they won't be charged with anything. Which begs all sorts of questions, such as: if they're so dangerous that they can't be let loose, why isn't there enough evidence of that danger to charge them with anything? But that would presume the whole rule-of-law/innocent-until-proven-guilty/no-arbitrary-imprisonment things. Which only apply to modern democratic type governments, not medieval monarchies.

Democratic Party Senator Dianne Feinstein told Mr Gates: "Nothing you have said absolves the enormous loss of credibility we have in the eyes of the world.

"We are being called hypocrites, that we have double laws, laws for some, and no laws for others."

Rights groups condemned Mr Gates's attitude.

Vincent Warren, executive director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, told Reuters news agency: "The secretary's comments really are astounding in light of the money, resources and personnel of the department of defence."

And McClatchy reported on Tuesday:

FBI agents repeatedly complained that harsh interrogation techniques used on detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo might violate the law and jeopardize future criminal trials, but administration officials did little to address the concerns, a government watchdog concluded in a report released Tuesday.

At one point in 2003, several top Justice Department officials took the concerns about interrogation practices used by the military at Guantanamo to the National Security Council, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine said in his report. However, Fine said the complaints did not appear to trigger any response from the National Security Council, which includes President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and was chaired at the time by then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Although the FBI's concerns about harsh interrogation techniques were previously known, Fine's report provides the most detailed narrative yet of how top law enforcement and military officials were slow to respond to the agents' complaints and how, in some instances, administration officials appear to have disregarded them.

I'm sure Gates would explain that we were stuck with torture, too. But I don't think that word means what he wants you to think it means. In this case, the real reason was summarized by Dan Froomkin:

That the White House ignored the FBI's red flags is not really surprising, considering that as of Spring 2002, top Bush aides including Vice President Cheney were reportedly micromanaging the torture of terrorist suspects from the White House basement. In other words, those aides -- depending in large part on secret and since-withdrawn memos from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for cover -- intentionally and specifically approved some of the tactics that alarmed the FBI.

But knowing that the nation's top law-enforcement officials put senior White House aides on notice that the interrogation tactics they had approved were potentially illegal adds a key element to the portrait of complicity in what could someday be prosecuted as violations of U.S. torture statutes or even war crimes.

The question, as always, is whether this potentially criminal activity by top-of-the-top government officials ever will be fully investigated, and if so, whether those responsible ever will by held accountable. If John McCain becomes president, certainly not. But what about under a Democratic president? First, why don't we elect one? Then, why don't we all metaphorically hold that president's feet to the fire, until that president does so? No excuses. The Bush Administration criminals cannot be allowed to get away with it.

Meanwhile, support No Torture. No exceptions.

Turkana :: 12:43 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!