Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More Light Shone Upon Bush Administration Torture Policies (Updated)

The Senate Armed Services Committee has just released a report titled "Inquiry Into The Treatment Of Detainees In U.S. Custody." You can download the full report from their website (PDF). Tim F. of Balloon Juice has helpfully provided the report's conclusions in plain text.

[Added: If you'd like an even quicker intro, see my post above.]

And if you haven't already seen it, you might also have a look at this NYT article which was until a few minutes ago the lead story on their site, which describes the cluelessness of the top Bush Administration officials while they were scheming how to make torture "legal."


[Added] Via uncle ebeneezer, here is a McClatchy story that's worth reading, which touches on a key point found in the Senate report. Short version: Rumsfeld and Cheney directed that torture be used to justify what they wanted to do anyway: invade Iraq. Here's an excerpt:

The use of abusive interrogation — widely considered torture — as part of Bush's quest for a rationale to invade Iraq came to light as the Senate issued a major report tracing the origin of the abuses and President Barack Obama opened the door to prosecuting former U.S. officials for approving them.


A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration.

"There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used," the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity.

"The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there."

It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document.

"There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, especially the few high-value ones we had, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people to push harder," he continued.

"Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies."

Senior administration officials, however, "blew that off and kept insisting that we'd overlooked something, that the interrogators weren't pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information," he said.

See this earlier post for links to the Justice Department memos and related commentary.

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