Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush Administration Was Warned Against Torture Two Years Before Abu Ghraib

The New Yorker: THE MEMO

The Bush administration knew about the abuse of prisoners in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib as early as 2002 and did nothing about it, according to Alberto J. Mora, former general counsel of the United States Navy. Furthermore, they not only knew about the abuse, they refused to stop it when counseled by Mora's office against what he called "a disastrous and unlawful policy of authorizing cruelty toward terror suspects."

The familiar cast of characters is there: Donald Rumsfeld, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller--the man sent by Rumsfeld to "Gitmo-ize" operations at Abu Ghraib, and Dick Cheney.
Top Administration officials have stressed that the interrogation policy was reviewed and sanctioned by government lawyers; last November, President Bush said, “Any activity we conduct is within the law. We do not torture.” Mora’s memo, however, shows that almost from the start of the Administration’s war on terror the White House, the Justice Department, and the Department of Defense, intent upon having greater flexibility, charted a legally questionable course despite sustained objections from some of its own lawyers...
Mora was shocked when (former head of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service David) Brant told him that the abuse wasn’t “rogue activity” but was “rumored to have been authorized at a high level in Washington.” The mood in the room, Mora wrote, was one of “dismay.” He added, “I was under the opinion that the interrogation activities described would be unlawful and unworthy of the military services.” Mora told me, “I was appalled by the whole thing. It was clearly abusive, and it was clearly contrary to everything we were ever taught about American values.”
Lawrence Wilkerson, whom Powell assigned to monitor this unorthodox policymaking process, told NPR last fall of “an audit trail that ran from the Vice-President’s office and the Secretary of Defense down through the commanders in the field.” When I spoke to him recently, he said, “I saw what was discussed. I saw it in spades. From Addington to the other lawyers at the White House. They said the President of the United States can do what he damn well pleases. People were arguing for a new interpretation of the Constitution. It negates Article One, Section Eight, that lays out all of the powers of Congress, including the right to declare war, raise militias, make laws, and oversee the common defense of the nation.”

Howie, tell me finally that you'll stop blaming abuse and torture on our soldiers (the supposed "few bad apples"), and put the responsibility squarely on those who deserve it most--the politicians in Washington.

No comments: