15
May
09

Related Newswires Articles on Torture – Salon

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Updated Newswire Stories from Salon:

Giuliani: Terrorists “couldn’t give a darn” about waterboarding
from Salon: War Room by Alex Koppelman

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Tuesday morning was another opportunity for him to reach back to his own experience in talking about terrorism, and counterterror strategies. Normally, that means talking about being mayor on 9/11, but this time he reached back farther, to his time as a prosecutor, in discussing waterboarding and whether its use backfires on the U.S.

“One of the great fallacies is that Islamic extremist terrorists are particularly impressed by the way we conduct our interviews,” Giuliani said.

Rumsfeld was even worse than you thought
from Salon: War Room by Alex Koppelman

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not a popular guy, and his tenure during the Bush administration isn’t generally well-regarded. He even became the fall guy for Republicans’ disastrous losses in the 2006 midterm elections, as then-President Bush very publicly accepted his resignation one day after the GOP lost control of both houses of Congress.

Now, though, a new article in GQ by Robert Draper is doing more damage to Rumsfeld’s already-tarnished reputation. Veterans of the Bush administration, who’d apparently been waiting for the opportunity to unload on an old foe, dished plenty of dirt on the former defense secretary, and delivered some truly amazing images to go along with it.

On its Web site, GQ has published a slide show of cover sheets that accompanied intelligence updates produced by Rumsfeld’s DOD for Bush. They all feature images of American soldiers in the field, and biblical quotes. It was, apparently, at least partially an attempt to appeal to Bush’s religious belief, but it also made other administration officials quite unhappy, in part because if they ever leaked, the images would bolster the perception, which the administration had been working to counter, that America was fighting a holy war against Islam.

The 13 people who made torture possible
Salon | By Marcy Wheeler

May 18, 2009 | On April 16, the Obama administration released four memos that were used to authorize torture in interrogations during the Bush administration. When President Obama released the memos, he said, “It is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.”

Yet 13 key people in the Bush administration cannot claim they relied on the memos from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. Some of the 13 manipulated the federal bureaucracy and the legal process to “preauthorize” torture in the days after 9/11. Others helped implement torture, and still others helped write the memos that provided the Bush administration with a legal fig leaf after torture had already begun.

The Torture 13 exploited the federal bureaucracy to establish a torture regime in two ways. First, they based the enhanced interrogation techniques on techniques used in the U.S. military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program. The program — which subjects volunteers from the armed services to simulated hostile capture situations — trains servicemen and -women to withstand coercion well enough to avoid making false confessions if captured. Two retired SERE psychologists contracted with the government to “reverse-engineer” these techniques to use in detainee interrogations.

Gitmo general told Iraq WMD search team to torture
from Salon: War Room by Mark Benjamin

In August and early September of 2003, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the man in charge of the Pentagon’s torture laboratory at Guantanamo Bay, was dispatched to Iraq, allegedly to Gitmoize operations there.

It seems to have worked, at least in one place. Soon after Miller visited with officials in charge of Abu Ghraib, guards there began to use working dogs, stress positions, extremely lengthy interrogations, isolation, yelling and nudity in order to try to wring information from prisoners — all techniques that had been used at Guantanamo and that the world would later see in photos released from an investigation in to what had gone on at the prison.

But according to the Senate committee’s report, before Miller met with the Abu Ghraib officials, he first made a little-known visit to the Iraq Survey Group, which was in charge of the hunt for WMDs in Iraq after the invasion.

Miller told the ISG they were “running a country club” by not getting tough on detainees, Chief Warrant Officer Brian Searcy, the ISG interrogation chief, told the Senate committee. Searcy said Miller suggested shackling detainees and forcing them to walk on gravel. Mike Kamin, another ISG official, told committee investigators that Miller recommended temperature manipulation and sleep deprivation.

Miller also told the ISG’s Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton that Dayton’s unit was “not getting much out of these people,” and complained that the ISG had not “broken” their detainees psychologically. Miller offered to send along suggested techniques, Dayton recalled, that would “actually break” the prisoners.

Did Bush’s attorney general hide internal dissent over torture?
Salon | By Mark Benjamin

The Bush administration had a problem when it decided to embark upon a torture program. Torture, after all, violates both U.S. and international law. The Bush team’s solution was to ask some attorneys at the Justice Department to change the definition of torture. If it’s not “torture,” it’s not illegal, and no one can be held accountable.

But what if that legal opinion isn’t worth the paper it’s written on? That’s what two Senate Democrats want to know.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel is, effectively, the executive branch’s lawyer. When White House officials want an official legal opinion, they call up OLC. If you were in the market for a favorable “reinterpretation” of the law, you might look for some pliant political appointees at OLC; hence, the Bush administration’s so-called torture memos.

On Aug. 1, 2002, OLC issued the torture memos after input from Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, who were at the time, respectively, White House counsel and counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney. The memos defined torture away, calling it treatment “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”

Report: Torture started with Bush
Salon | By Mark Benjamin

The report is all about naming names, and the summary is stunningly frank in its conclusions, particularly in comparison to the passive language employed by most government investigations into abuse.

According to the report, the torture ball started rolling with the president and his Feb. 7, 2002, memorandum stating that the Geneva Conventions didn’t apply to al-Qaida or the Taliban. The CIA and the Department of Defense began scurrying to establish their brutal interrogation regimes, while the White House and top Bush administration officials brushed aside legal hurdles and approved specific, horrifying techniques.

In the spring of 2002, for example, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice asked then-CIA Director George Tenet to brief members of the National Security Council on the harsh interrogation program under development by the CIA, a program that has utilized waterboarding. Meetings ensued. “Members of the president’s cabinet and other senior officials attended meetings at the White House where specific interrogation techniques were discussed,” the report states. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was there.

Bush’s top general quashed torture dissent
Salon | By Mark Benjamin

In late 2002, documents show, officials from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps all complained that harsh interrogation tactics under consideration for use at the prison in Guantánamo Bay might be against the law. Those military officials called for further legal scrutiny of the tactics. The chief of the Army’s international law division, for example, said in a memo that some of the tactics, such as stress positions and sensory deprivation, “cross the line of ‘humane treatment'” and “may violate the torture statute.”

Myers, however, agreed to scuttle a plan for further legal review of the tactics, in response to pressure from a top Pentagon attorney helping to set up the interrogation program for then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Did Chertoff lie to Congress about Guantánamo?
Salon | By Mark Benjamin

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will leave office Sept. 17 with a reputation for being untruthful. During his repeated appearances before Congress earlier this year to explain the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, Gonzales answered “I don’t recall” or some variation as many as 70 times at a sitting. When his replacement comes to Capitol Hill for confirmation, lawmakers hope they will hear nothing but the truth.

But one of the men most often mentioned as his replacement may have some of the same trouble with the truth. Since rumors of Gonzales’ departure surfaced last week, speculation about his successor has centered on Michael Chertoff, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Just as Gonzales, under oath before Congress, failed to recall whether there was dissension within the Bush administration over a controversial war-on-terror-related policy, so Michael Chertoff seems to have suffered a similar lapse of memory while under oath before Congress when pressed on a different terror-related policy. Gonzales pleaded ignorance of a rift within the administration over warrantless wiretapping; Chertoff has denied knowledge of interrogation techniques that are tantamount to torture, despite regular attendance by his top aides at meetings on the subject.

A Miller whitewash?
By Mark Benjamin and Michael Scherer

Army investigators have employed a hairsplitting distinction between a small group “briefing” and “direct discussions” to exonerate Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, a central figure in the detainee abuse scandals, of allegations that he lied to Congress.

The Army inspector general has concluded that Miller, who set up detention operations at Abu Ghraib just before the infamous abuse there, did brief a top Pentagon intelligence official about his work at the Iraqi prison. Miller had been accused of lying under oath to Congress in May 2004, when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had “no direct discussions” with Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone. He later admitted to delivering a briefing to five senior Pentagon officials, including Cambone.

In a report obtained by Salon through the Freedom of Information Act, the inspector general found that the two seemingly contradictory statements were both true, a distinction that has a Senate Democrat crying foul.

What Rumsfeld knew
By Michael Scherer and Mark Benjamin

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was personally involved in the late 2002 interrogation of a high-value al-Qaida detainee known in intelligence circles as “the 20th hijacker.” He also communicated weekly with the man in charge of the interrogation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the controversial commander of the Guantánamo Bay detention center.

During the same period, detainee Mohammed al-Kahtani suffered from what Army investigators have called “degrading and abusive” treatment by soldiers who were following the interrogation plan Rumsfeld had approved. Kahtani was forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator, was accused of being a homosexual, and was forced to wear women’s underwear and to perform “dog tricks” on a leash. He received 18-to-20-hour interrogations during 48 of 54 days.

Little more than two years later, during an investigation into the mistreatment of prisoners at Guantánamo, Rumsfeld expressed puzzlement at the notion that his policies had caused the abuse. “He was going, ‘My God, you know, did I authorize putting a bra and underwear on this guy’s head?'” recalled Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt, an investigator who interviewed Rumsfeld twice in early 2005.

Rice denies approving use of torture – 4 May 09

Condoleezza Rice, the former US secretary of state, has dismissed claims she approved the use of torture when she was US National Security adviser.

The former secretary of state caused a storm when she said if harsh interrogation methods were authorised by the US President, then they were not illegal.

Al Jazeera’s Monica Villamizar asked her about the controversy her statements have caused.

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