Sunday, December 21, 2008

Senate Committee Report On Torture Contrasts With Cheney's "Legal" Standards

The New York Times December 17 editorial "The Torture Report" commented on a bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report that makes a strong case for bringing criminal charges against Bush administration officials:

The report shows how actions by these men “led directly” to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.

It said these top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America’s standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War. Until the Bush administration, their only use in the United States was to train soldiers to resist what might be done to them if they were captured by a lawless enemy.

The officials then issued legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the “war on terror” — the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions.

The counterproductive nature of the abuse was found to pose a danger to U.S. Armed Forces:

Alberto Mora, the former Navy general counsel who protested the abuses, told the Senate committee that “there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq — as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat — are, respectively, the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.”

Regarding the "top officials, charged with defending the Constitution," it is instructive to view a recent interview between Chris Wallace and Vice President Dick Cheney, who offered a simple standard: if the president does it during wartime, it's legal. One then understands how this administration justified its actions to itself:

Wallace: ...If the president during war decides to do something to protect the country, is it legal?

Cheney: General proposition, I'd say take the oath to support and defend and protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic...I think that what we've done has been totally consistent with what the Constitution provides for.



media monkey said...

bout damn time :)

Jeff Tone said...

MM: Well, I don't agree with throwing objects at people. I believe that non-violent civil disobedience is called for instead. Without question, though, the journalist expressed the rage of many Iraqis.