Guantanamo Tactics: Abusive but not Illegal

Well, it appears that the tactics in use at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility seemed unnecessarily harmful and aggressive to . . . the FBI:

FBI officials who were interrogating terrorism suspects at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002 and 2003 strenuously objected to aggressive techniques the military was using and believed they could be illegal, according to FBI memos released yesterday.

I don’t see how the administration can keep arguing that everything is totally fine with this. Here’s the FBI telling the military that the techniques being used

could easily result in the elicitation of unreliable and legally inadmissible information.

Got that? Just like with the NSA wiretapping scandal, we have the circumvention of established law leading to legal problems. Confessions under torture are famously unreliable, not to mention that torture is not permitted by US laws. Of course, that all depends on what you call torture:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld approved an expanded list of interrogation tactics in December 2002 for use on an important suspect. Rumsfeld later rescinded the list. A military investigation into allegations of abuse at Guantanamo Bay found that the cumulative effect of the detainee’s treatment was abusive but not illegal.

Oh, good. As long as the treatment is only abusive, that’s cool. Is this really their argument? I am speechless. This is the United States, not some Soviet Gulag. Let me defer to the wisdom of our first President on this one:

“Treat them with humanity,” Washington instructed his lieutenants, noting that accepting the German mercenaries as prisoners of war wasn’t just the right thing to do, it might even sway them to abandon their British paymasters and join the American side in the War of Independence. “Let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British army.”

Absolutely right. Our strength has always been our respect and compassion for all people. That’s what makes the Guantanamo/Abu Ghraib scandals so disheartening: the techniques are inhumane, cruel, and abusive according to the military itself and on top of that they don’t even work!
Sounds like a bad deal to me. You?

4 Replies to “Guantanamo Tactics: Abusive but not Illegal”

  1. I’m a first time reader, nice blog you’ve got here…

    What I don’t understand is why nobody is trying to get to the bottom of all this and restore accountability and integrity to the United States. I seem to recall that there are investigations underway, but they seem to only be token ones. And of course we’re not seeing any contributions from the White House – they’re to blame for all this.

    The Democrats on the other hand have totally lost the plot. Ever since the World Trade Center was attacked they seem to have crawled back into their shells, afraid to make any waves at all. With a few exceptions we haven’t heard much of a peep from them on the Guantanamo Bay situation, Abu Ghraib, the Iraq Occupation, etcetera. The threat of being called un-American seems to be working with them, as if they’ve forgotten who they’re representing or are more concerned with being voted out of office than voting with their conscience.

    I’ve always been more a third party person – and this just reinforces that.

    More recently there has been more vocal opposition, but it’s almost too little too late. The US Government – including Congress – has moved on to damage control instead of determining the most effective manner to move forward – which was a crossroads they passed long ago. And still, we’ve only just begun to see the sort of debate that has always been needed, yet didn’t exist.

    I’m an expatriate living in Australia and therefore have a unique perspective on things. The impression some/many Australian’s have is that the US in general has lost the plot – and that it’s almost a lost cause. We/they do make the distinction between Americans and the US Government though (which is always nice) – but the fact remains that the US is turning into a punchline more and more everyday; and it’s painful to watch.

    Anyway, I’ll be back – keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks for reading. I agree with what you’re saying, and I also wish that someone would try to restore some credibility and moral rectitude to the U.S. I am a registered Democrat, and I try to give them the benefit of the doubt when I can–although that’s been challenging. I feel for them, since they want to get reelected, and things in this nation have swerved so far to the right it can be very hard unless you’re a senator from New York or Illinois.

    As you say, though, I believe that the way to win elections and the way to fix this country are the same: tell the truth. That’s all it takes. The truth is overwhelmingly progressive. I am pinning a lot of my hopes on the coming November elections–more and more people are getting tired of this garbage every day.

  3. I have to admit I was a bit harsh on the Democrats. Especially since no third party stands a snow-ball’s chance in hell of getting into office, and I agree with many Democratic party stances, I’d much rather have them win the next presidential election (and congressional elections for that matter) than any Republican. I thought Gore was excellent and would have been a far, far better Pres than Dubya. It’s more that I’ve been severely disappointed in what has seemed like a lack of intiative and absence of assertiveness from them the last few years. Hopefully we’ll see a turn around soon…

  4. I like your way of putting it. I think a lot of the progressive movement in this country focuses on refurbishing the Democratic party to the point that it can stand up to the Republican machine. I often think of Gore and wish things had turned out differently, with him as the President. As it stands, the best hope is to invigorate the Democrats and clean house in November.

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