Friday, September 22, 2006

The CIA thought it was torture

Why did George Bush make his shameless admission that the US had been holding suspected terrorists in secret prisons, and agree to transfer the detainees to Guantanamo Bay? Because the CIA wouldn't torture them anymore:

The Bush administration had to empty its secret prisons and transfer terror suspects to the military-run detention centre at Guantánamo this month in part because CIA interrogators had refused to carry out further interrogations and run the secret facilities, according to former CIA officials and people close to the programme.

The former officials said the CIA interrogators’ refusal was a factor in forcing the Bush administration to act earlier than it might have wished.

(Emphasis added)

This refusal was due to the US Supreme Court judgement in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that the Geneva Conventions' Common Article 3 (which bars, among other things, cruel treatment and torture) applied to detainees in the "war on terror". And it tells us firstly exactly what the CIA interrogators think of Bush's "alternative set of [interrogation] procedures" (which include beatings, stress positions, freezing, and waterboarding), and secondly that contrary to Bush's assertions, Common Article 3 is in no way "vague".

But what's more interesting is this bit:

In an interview with the Financial Times, John Bellinger, legal adviser to the state department, went further, saying there had been “very little operational activity” on CIA interrogations since the passage last December of a bill proposed by Senator John McCain outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners.

That bill (the McCain Detainee Amendment, which is incorporated into the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005) included a provision that it would be a defence for those carrying out "officially authorized" interrogation procedures that they

did not know that the practices were unlawful and a person of ordinary sense and understanding would not know the practices were unlawful.

The fact that the interrogations basically stopped when this law was passed tells us that those involved knew damn well that what they were doing was criminal under US law. So shouldn’t they – and the people who laid down this criminal policy of torture – be prosecuted?


it's a good sign though eh?

Posted by Genius : 9/22/2006 06:29:00 AM

Indeed they should be prosecuted - although I would far rather see the generals (politicians) prosecuted here than the CIA foot soldiers. We wait for November's results...

Posted by Anonymous : 9/22/2006 08:10:00 AM