This is the truth, nothing but the truth, and the whole truth, with a waterboard as my witness!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More questions than answers on torture

I have to categorize the decision not to release photos of the abuse and torture as a pragmatic decision that will reduce the harm as a consequence of the acts. I see no reason to further exasperate the circumstances where soldiers and populaces meet and these photos would be circulated.

Do We Really Need To See Photos of Children Being Raped and Sodomized in Front of Their Mothers in Abu Ghraib?

For clarity to the reference above:

"Debating about it, ummm ... Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib ... The women were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out."

I don't think so. But I think that they should be used to investigate the decision to use torture. I think that the assertion that torture was used to make the case of non-existent WMD requires investigation.

We also now know that techniques, including waterboarding, had already been employed, and that those briefing me in September 2002 gave me inaccurate and incomplete information.

I think what I find interesting is that we cannot use the photos as part of a basis for an investigation to find out if all people were prosecuted as Cheney suggested, inquire if the torture was used to support claims of WMD, and finally establish a timeline of when legal briefs were offered, when torture began and under what directives, and finally: when the abuse was understood who called for an end to the activity?

JEDDAH, 16 November 2005 — Liz Cheney, US deputy

She claims that the rumors about torture in American prisons are untrue, the idea that American liberation of Iraq resulted in more terrorism is wrong, and that Afghanistan is “absolutely better” and the world safer after removing the Taleban from power. She said that Syria and Iran are a concern for the United States, that capturing Osama Ben Laden is not a key issue in winning the war on terrorism and that new methods need to be used in this war.


On the reports about torture in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and violations of Geneva Convention, she said that what happened in Abu Ghraib was a crime and not America’s policy and those who perpetuated the crime were tried and will be punished.


Cheney defended the US success in the war on terrorism both in Afghanistan or Iraq. “What made Saddam dangerous was not only the stockpile of weapons he had but also he had the scientists who had the technology to make these weapons; we know that they were working with and training Al-Qaeda members. The danger was not necessarily of giving the weapons to the terrorists but that the technology would fall in the hands of terrorists,” she said.

I don't think this post could be complete without this observation.

Q Sir, taking on Charlie's question a bit -- and I can give you actual examples from coalition forces who talked to me when I was over there -- about excesses of the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Defense, and that is in dealing with prisoners or in arresting people and how they're treated after they're arrested. What are the obligations and what are the rights of the U.S. military over there in dealing with that? Obviously, Iraq is a sovereign country now, but the United States is responsible for training and expects to turn over the security mission to them. So what is the U.S. obligation in addressing that, preventing that? And what can we do? And what are we doing?

SEC. RUMSFELD: That's a fair question. I'll start, and Pete, you may want to finish. But we are working very hard to train and equip the Iraqi security forces. So is NATO. So are some neighboring countries. There are a lot of people involved in this and dozens of countries trying to help train these Iraqi forces.

Any instance of inhumane behavior is obviously worrisome and harmful to them when that occurs. Iraq knows of certain knowledge that they need the support of the international community, and a good way to lose it is to make a practice of something that's inconsistent with the values of the international community. And I think they know that.

Now, you know, I can't go any farther in talking about it. Obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility when a sovereign country engages in something that they disapprove of; however, we do have a responsibility to say so and to make sure that the training is proper and to work with the sovereign officials so that they understand the damage that can be done to them in the event some of these allegations prove to be true.

Q And General Pace, what guidance do you have for your military commanders over there as to what to do if -- like when General Horst found this Interior Ministry jail?

GEN. PACE: It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it. As an example of how to do it if you don't see it happening but you're told about it is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago. There's a report from an Iraqi to a U.S. commander that there was possibility of inhumane treatment in a particular facility. That U.S. commander got together with his Iraqi counterparts. They went together to the facility, found what they found, reported it to the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi government has taken ownership of that problem and is investigating it. So they did exactly what they should have done.

SEC. RUMSFELD: But I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it.

GEN. PACE: If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.

Q If I may follow up. To what extent do you think these allegations of abuses by the Iraqi security forces, particularly some of the complaints and allegations from Sunni Iraqis that the largely Shi'a security forces are engaged in abuses, to what extent do you think that's an indicator that the Iraqi military -- Iraqi security forces are not yet ready to assume control of the country?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I don't think it is. I mean, you're going to have allegations back and forth. We're deeply concerned by -- that there could be conflict among the various elements in that country after the end of major combat operations, and there hasn't been, and that's a good thing. First of all, what we're doing is we're prejudging these remarks and allegations and reports, and I just can't do that. And what's going to happen is the Iraqi government is going to be formed after the December 15th election in two weeks -- whatever -- and it'll be seated by the 31st of December. The --

Q So it's your sense that these abuses are not a widespread problem that threaten the --

SEC. RUMSFELD: I -- my sense is I don't know. And it's obviously something that one has to be attentive to. It's obviously something that the -- General Casey and his troops are attentive to and have to be concerned about. It -- I'm not going to be judging it from 4,000 miles away -- how many miles away? --

GEN. PACE: It's a long ways.

SEC. RUMSFELD: It's a long way -- 5,000, 6,000 maybe.


The point is that there was no "government" aside from the following:

Following the invasion, the United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern Iraq.[35] Government authority was transferred to an Iraqi Interim Government in June 2004, and a permanent government was elected in October 2005. More than 140,000 troops, mainly Americans, remain in Iraq.

And for the record: I think the POTUS was wise to hold back the photos but needs to hold some invstigations.

So lets reiterate:

Elizabeth Cheney states that torture is a violation of the Geneva convention and should be prosecuted.

Rumsfeld wants it reported:

SEC. RUMSFELD: But I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it.

General Pace says there is an obligation to stop it.

GEN. PACE: If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.

And I make the observation that Congress needs to investigate it.

Just too many unanswered questions about torture.

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