Saturday, July 12, 2008

More U.S. Adventures with "The Dark Side"

More damning reports are coming out on the U.S.'s use of torture and abuse. Jane Mayer, who covers counterterrorism for the New Yorker, is coming out with a book, "The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals." In it she exposes Red Cross investigators' conclusions "that the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation methods for high-level Qaeda prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes..." The Red Cross, according to Mayer, declared in its report that methods used on Al Qaeda figure Abu Zubaydah were "categorically" torture, "...illegal under both American and international law." Red Cross representatives interviewed Zubaydah and other detainees, and Mayer "writes that several C.I.A. officers...confirmed parts of the Red Cross description."

In a separate story, "a secret Canadian government report indicates that Omar Khadr, a Canadian who has been held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba since he was 16, has been abused by his interrogators," according to his military lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. William C. Kuebler. Classified documents turned over to Khadr's Canadian lawyers state that the detainee, accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, "was moved to a new cell every three hours for three weeks," a practice known as the "frequent flyer program," in a bid to make him "more amenable." Khadr was described as "in tears or on the verge of crying during interrogations." The disruptions and the interrogations were considered ineffective. Kuebler stated that "It's shameful that the Canadian government is continuing to allow this to go on." Nevertheless, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not ask for Khadr's return to Canada, which "...sought assurances that...Khadr...will be treated humanely." Lawyer Dennis Edney stated that Khadr would not receive just or humane treatment by the Americans: "The fact that today's revelations don't finally lead to the government's agreement to seek his repatriation, well, it defies belief."

The Bush administration has been known to practice of extraordinary rendition, sending prisoners to countries that knowingly practice torture despite "reassurances." That practice alone has tarnished the reputation of the U.S. How much more has our reputation been damaged when we are the ones abusing, and when a detainee's captivity by the U.S. is itself a source of controversy?

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