Thursday, April 16, 2009

Haiku 041609

red maple
casting its shadow --
robin bobbing


Associated Press: “No charges against CIA officials for waterboarding

“Seeking to move beyond what he calls "a dark and painful chapter in our history," President Barack Obama said Thursday that CIA officials who used harsh interrogation tactics during the Bush administration will not be prosecuted.

“The government also released four memos long held secret by the Bush administration in which its lawyers approved in extensive and often graphic detail the tough interrogation methods used against 28 terror suspects, the fullest and now complete government accounting of the techniques. The rough tactics range from waterboarding — simulated drowning — to using a plastic neck collar to slam detainees into walls….

"It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department," Holder said….

“The CIA has acknowledged using waterboarding … on three high-level terror detainees in 2002 and 2003, with the permission of the White House and the Justice Department….”


…. Prosecuting CIA operatives who carried out torture of alleged terrorist-prisoners does not address the root cause. It’s silly to go after them and not their superiors. This is like home improvement not going far enough. The point is to make accountable the Bush White House and Justice Department officials who justified the use of torture, set the protocols of torture, and ordered the use of torture.

According to a related Associated Press story, these individuals are former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; ex-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith; former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, David Addington; Justice Department officials John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee; and Pentagon lawyer William Haynes. (And Bush and Cheney, too?) The mugs of these guys should be placed on Facebook for the world to remember.

One understands the circumstances that spawned the Bush administration's philosophy on torture. But weren't there really "less invasive" ways to obtain the information needed? There is in fact the view that information extracted during torture is not necessarily reliable. Subjects of torture can make anything up to make the torture stop.

Another AP report said: "The scientific community has never established that coercive interrogation methods are an effective means of obtaining reliable intelligence information," former military interrogation instructor and retired Air Force Col. Steven M. Kleinman wrote in the Intelligence Science Board report. "In essence, there seems to be an unsubstantiated assumption that 'compliance' carries the same connotation as 'meaningful cooperation.' " The AP report added: "In short: Slam someone up against the wall, keep him awake for days, lock him naked in a cell and slap his face enough, and he will probably say something. That doesn't necessarily make it true."

What was the calculus used by the Bush administration and its lawyers? Does national security justify giving up the moral high ground? In exchange for torture-extracted information that may even be worthless? Will one be fine if the same torture methods were used on one’s son or daughter? One wonders what John McCain’s position is. This is a difficult one to sort out, master Klein….

Or maybe the Obama administration is exorcising the wrong demons. Maybe they should be following the money. What one hears around the water cooler or in coffee shops is that the last administration’s cronies profited a bunch from the Afghani and Iraqi wars. Urban legend?….

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