Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tortured argument

We don't torture because what others call torture the preznit doesn't call torture, so nobody can call it torture even if it is torture because we said it's not torture....
In 2005, CIA officials ordered the destruction of videotapes depicting the harsh interrogation of prisoners in the agency's secret overseas prisons. CIA Director Michael Hayden admitted that in December 2007 amid a public debate over the use of "waterboarding" on detainees and whether or not the technique — which simulates drowning — constituted torture. At that time, Hayden said that only a few prisoners were ever subjected to "special interrogation techniques," which can include waterboarding, and that nothing was recorded on video after 2002. That claim is now coming under additional scrutiny, in part due to a classified briefing that will be delivered to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence this Friday. Lawyers for one current Guantanamo detainee tell TIME that they plan to present evidence that he was subjected to unspecified "systematic torture" that was videotaped when he was held in secret CIA prisons. The lawyers say the alleged videotaped torture took place after his arrest in 2003.

Majid Khan, 27, a former suburban Baltimore high school student, was first seized by authorities in Pakistan, where he said he was visiting his brother. Khan then spent more than three years in a secret overseas CIA "black site" before President Bush ordered his transfer to Guantanamo along with 13 other high-value detainees. Also transferred was alleged 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheik Mohammed, who had allegedly ordered Khan to research attacks on American water reservoirs and gas stations.

Khan's lawyers are armed with more than 500 pages of top-secret notes taken during recent sessions with their client at Guantanamo; they will use the material to describe his interrogation and detention to the Intelligence Committee. Though details are highly classified, his lawyers claim that he and others were tortured and videotaped, charges that Hayden and other CIA officials deny. On Feb. 5, Hayden admitted to Congress that the CIA had used waterboarding on Khaled Sheik Mohammed and two others. The CIA continues to assert that it does not engage in torture.

Picture taken from article.

Attorney General Mukasey joins the ranks of those using the Nuremberg excuse,"I was just following orders."

Crossposted at Rants from the Rookery.

Update: The White House would consider using waterboarding again:
In congressional testimony yesterday, CIA director Michael Hayden confirmed that his agency used waterboarding on three al Qaeda suspects. In 2006, Hayden banned the use of waterboarding in CIA interrogations. The Pentagon also banned its employees from using it, and the FBI said its investigators do not use coercive tactics in interviewing terror suspects.

But in today’s gaggle, White House said that it may approve the use of waterboarding again “depend[ing] upon circumstances”:

“It will depend upon circumstances,” spokesman Tony Fratto said, adding “the belief that an attack might be imminent, that could be a circumstance that you would definitely want to consider.”

Later, in a press briefing, Fratto tried to distance himself from these remarks, claiming that he only was talking about “the process” of approving waterboarding. “I’m not speculating,” he declared.

Click on the link to watch him backpedal.

Update 5:00: Blue Girl at BlueGirl, Red State says it best:
When the current occupant authorized waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" (call them what they are: torture) he sold America's soul, and illustrated Ben Franklin's observation that those who would trade away their freedoms for a false sense of security deserve neither.

Waterboarding is torture. Period. Full stop.

It has long since been classified as such, and Congress is considering taking up legislation banning the CIA from using it. It is already prohibited under the Army Field Manual.

I am the ultimate Cold War brat. I have some pretty set-in-stone ideas and ideals. One of them is that we simply don't do things like that. There truly are prices that are simply too high to pay. Abdicating the moral high ground out of fear is one of them.

I realize full measure that "American Exceptionalism" was always a myth - but at least we used to pretend to behave in an exceptional manner.