Sunday, July 03, 2005

Alberto "Torture Memo' Gonzales Spends his Fourth selling the "Bad Apples" Theory in Iraq 

Always nice to see an operative from the party of personal responsibility denying everything. AP does pretty well on this one, laying out the facts right beside what Gonzales says.

The attorney general condemned abuses by American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, blaming them on a few individuals, not official U.S. policy.

"To believe that memos and decisions at the top created an environment that led to abuses would lead one to the conclusion that these abuses were widespread, at many locations and by many people. From the best we can tell, it really related to the actions of the night shift at one cell block at Abu Ghraib," he said.

As White House counsel in President Bush's first term, Gonzales helped develop the administration's legal strategy in the fight against terror. He wrote a memo in 2002 contending that Bush had the right to waive anti-torture laws and international treaties that provide protections to prisoners of war. Critics have said the memo helped lead to abuses of the type seen at Abu Ghraib.

At his Senate confirmation hearing, Gonzales denied any of the memos he wrote or reviewed in the White House had anything to do with the abuses.

Gonzales also defended the administration's policy - essentially repudiated by the Supreme Court and now being fought out in lower courts - of detaining certain terrorism suspects for extended periods without access to lawyers or courts. He also drafted rules for the military war tribunals created after the Sept. 11 attacks.
(via AP)

Except, um, in Bush'ss Dirty War torture is widespread, despite the Big Lies of Bush and his operatives.

Quoting (almost in its entirety) from Trish O'Kane in the Montgomery Advertiser(Alabama):

This July Fourth, the hood seems a more fitting patriotic symbol than the flag. For we the people, as a nation, have donned one so we do not have to face ourselves or the family members of people like Dilawar.

It was the eve of a Muslim holiday that December. A shy, thin, unschooled 22-year-old, Dilawar was an aspiring taxi driver in the village of Yakubi.

Dilawar's mother wanted the entire family together for the holiday and asked him to pick up three sisters from neighboring villages. Dilawar needed gas money, so he went to work in a nearby city.

He collected three passengers. On the way home, he passed Camp Salerno, a U.S. base that had been attacked that morning. Afghan militiamen stopped the taxi and turned Dilawar and passengers over to U.S. soldiers as suspects.

The three passengers ended up in Guantanamo, where they spent over a year before they were sent home without charge.

Dilawar was sent to Camp Bagram, another U.S.-Afghan base. He arrived Dec. 5. It was a U.S. camp where torture was routine, according to a nearly 2,000 page confidential Army investigation file given to the New York Times by a military official. Dilawar's story and others were published in the New York Times on May 20. Twenty-four hours before Dilawar arrived, another prisoner named Habibullah died after four days of being beaten and kicked. Soldiers told investigators they beat him while he was chained to the ceiling. The autopsy reported bruises on Habibullah's chest, arms and head, and deep contusions on calves, knees and thighs.

In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers described a female interrogator at Bagram stepping on a prisoner's neck and kicking another in the genitals. One Bagram interrogator was nicknamed "the monster," and a group of Bagram soldiers were called "the Testosterone Gang."

Dilawar lasted five days. Interrogators later told Army investigators they believed he was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the base. He was tortured by Americans his own age who said it was "funny" to hear him cry "Allah" when they hit him. One soldier estimated they hit Dilawar in the legs over 100 times in 24 hours. Dilawar died when his heart failed due to "blunt force injuries to the lower extremities."

Military coroners declared both deaths "homicides." One coroner described Dilawar's legs as "pulpified."

Dilawar died in December of 2002. Between 2001, when Cheney made this statement, and 2005, at least 108 prisoners have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan (Associated Press, March 16, 2005.) Just one death occurred at Abu Ghraib.

Take off your hood and read the Army reports published online thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union (www.cid.army.mil/Documents and aclu.org/torturefoia/).

This is what you will see by the dawn's early light:

Our flag waving over a sprawling prison network of some 42 camps holding 11,000 prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. The government admits to "detaining" at least 50,000 since US military operations began.

Our soldiers using a dead Iraqi to wave hello on a DVD called "Ramadi Madness," and brutalizing Iraqi prisoners. Army documents published in March 2005 described the DVD (see Palm Beach Post website).

Abu Ghraib prisoner Manadel Al-Jamedi, suspended by the wrists, hands cuffed behind his back, in a practice called "Palestinian hanging." Al-Jamedi died in a shower room during a half-hour interrogation by the CIA and Navy Seals (Army account in Associated Press story, Feb. 17, 2005.)

An Iraqi father begging for his teenage son's life as our soldiers stage a mock execution (Army documents published April 19, 2005.)

Two Iraqi prisoners on a bridge, and three U.S. soldiers behind them, pushing them off. One prisoner could not swim and drowned. His family found his body 12 days later (Army report published July 15, 2004.)

Is this what so proudly we hail, at the twilight's last gleaming?

So, what's "widespread"? If 108 deaths isn't, then what is? 1008? 10,008?

Note please, democrats [lowercase deliberate] can't be simple-minded at opposing this. What the torturers did was wrong; they were moral agents who shouldn't have done what they did. But don't get suckered into "blaming the troops," because that's just what Rove wants you do to; to him, torture is just another wedge issue.

The Stanford experiment shows that the tendency for those with power to abuse those without power is a natural tendency that all humans share ("human nature"). And you can look at the entire Bush "gulag" (I'd say 42 camps makes a gulag, wouldn't you?) as a gigantic Stanford Experiment, where the bosses say "Get it done, I don't care how; just don't tell me." Newsweek reported:

It is unlikely that President George W. Bush or senior officials ever knew of these specific techniques, and late last week Defense spokesman Larry DiRita said that "no responsible official of the Department of Defense approved any program that could conceivably have been intended to result in such abuses." But a NEWSWEEK investigation shows that, as a means of pre-empting a repeat of 9/11, Bush, along with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft, signed off on a secret system of detention and interrogation that opened the door to such methods. It was an approach that they adopted to sidestep the historical safeguards of the Geneva Conventions, which protect the rights of detainees and prisoners of war. In doing so, they overrode the objections of Secretary of State Colin Powell and America's top military lawyers—and they left underlings to sweat the details of what actually happened to prisoners in these lawless places. While no one deliberately authorized outright torture, these techniques entailed a systematic softening up of prisoners through isolation, privations, insults, threats and humiliation—methods that the Red Cross concluded were "tantamount to torture."
(via Newsweek)

Again, what the Stanford Experiment proves is that in any "lawless place," those without power (the prisoners) will be abused by those with power (the torturers). (The Stanford Experiment was brought to a halt early because the abuse was so awful.)

So, the real responsibility—yes, for the true evil doing—shouldn't be placed on the troops, but on Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Gonzales. They are the evil-doers with command responsibility; they are the evil-doers who, even today, laugh at the idea that they will be held to account for their crimes; they are the evil-doers who, by not "sweating the details," put the troops in the position to lose their honor as soldiers and men and women; they are the evil-doers who, fallen themselves, caused others to fall. "It would be better for them to have a great millstone fastened round their necks and be drowned into the depth of the sea."

NOTE Gosh, remember when the House Republicans were prating about "the rule of law," back in the days of Monica's blue dress? How far away, how innocent those times seem now...

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