This morning I was listening to a local Chicago radio station, which was playing an interview with former U.S. Ambassador to the United nations, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control, John Bolton. The discussion revolved around the demands by the U.S. Attorney General's Office for documents to shed light on the reported (and admitted) "enhanced interrogation techniques" applied by the C.I.A. to some confinees, accused of terrorism, and held outside the U.S. Bolton ignored the information that it was the Attorney General's Office seeking those documents; he accused President Obama, and the entire Obama Administration of attempted undermining, and adulteration of the mission of the C.I.A. and all it's agents.
President Obama has been steadfast in his drive to "Look forward", as opposed to seeking to place blame for incidents in the past. However the Office of the Attorney General may be required to investigate these particularly severe accusations of illegal treatment of military prisoners.
My assumption is that any human no matter how strong, brave, and dedicated, can be brought to say anything, to save unbearable pain, or threats to his family. If information can be extracted in a relatively short time, is the continued application of fear and pain justified? We must also question whether the application of torture is ever legal under our constitution, and our law.
It has been suggested that much of the information derived from the application of pain to these captives suspected of terrorism had already been divulged during more ordinary interrogation. Police and Federal investigators have been learning for decades how to extract information.
One of the noble principles upon which out nation was founded is that "All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights". Then how do we justify denying these rights to a segment of humanity, in the 21st Century world?
Here are some specifics:
In some instances suspected terrorists have been subjected to emotional turmoil — being told their children will die or are dead, this in conjunction with physical pain — long periods of forced standing, or of being strapped in unbearable positions. Consider the photos of Zacharias Mousauri, hooded, chained to a wall, with arms outstretched, akimbo. Consider in the same light the photos we have seen of another such suspect standing hooded, on a box, with wires attached to his hands and to his genitals.
It is documented that suspects in American prisons have been forced to perform nude, or in Womens' cloths. We remember the story of Muhammed al-Kahtan who was paraded in women's underwear, and forced to perform dog tricks. But few of us are aware of the duration of this interrogation.
From the Chicago Sun Times: "…Muhammed al-Kahtan was forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator, forced to wear women's underwear, and perform "dog tricks' on a leash, for 18 to 20 hours/day, for 48 of 54 days."
Waterboarding is often mentioned in connection with enhanced interrogation. In waterboarding the victim has his legs elevated to partially prevent water from entering his lungs and stomach. He is then brought to, or near to, unconsciousness (drowned). Then he is revived, allowed three or four breaths, and drowned again. Memos recently released indicate that this is only allowable for about 20 minutes.
These are serious matters, and a complete investigation may be required under law.
In support of the C.I.A., I include this note, from CIA Director Leon Panetta to the agency's workforce Monday on the release of a report on interrogation practices.
Monday, August 24, 2009
As Director in 2009, my primary interest – when it comes to a program that no longer exists – is to stand up for those officers who did what their country asked and who followed the legal guidance they were given. That is the President's position, too. The CIA was aggressive over the years in seeking new opinions from the Department of Justice as the legal landscape changed. The Agency sought and received multiple written assurances that its methods were lawful. The CIA has a strong record in terms of following legal guidance and informing the Department of Justice of potentially illegal conduct.
Readers interested in a more complete discussion may want to read Monstering: Inside America's Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War by Tara McKelvey, available from Amazon, and perhaps more pertinent as it was written before the current general interest, and while the interrogations were taking place.
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