…I wrote earlier today about Eric Holder’s decision to “review” whether criminal prosecutions are warranted in connection with the torture of Terrorism suspects — that can be read here — but I want to write separately about the release today of the 2004 CIA’s Inspector General Report (.pdf), both because it’s extraordinary in its own right and because it underscores how unjust it would be to prosecute only low-level interrogators rather than the high-level officials who implemented the torture regime….
Remember: he wasn’t tied up and helpless, under the total control of people who he was convinced hated him. Nonetheless, now he agrees — it’s torture.
Only trouble with this is, now that they’ve seen how to do it, a bunch of kids will be trying it. Look for it to appear in frat houses, too.
George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director who insisted that the agency had thoroughly researched its proposal and pressed it on other officials, did not examine the history of the most shocking method, the near-drowning technique known as waterboarding.
The top officials he briefed did not learn that waterboarding had been prosecuted by the United States in war-crimes trials after World War II and was a well-documented favorite of despotic governments since the Spanish Inquisition; one waterboard used under Pol Pot was even on display at the genocide museum in Cambodia.
They did not know that some veteran trainers from the SERE program itself had warned in internal memorandums that, morality aside, the methods were ineffective. Nor were most of the officials aware that the former military psychologist who played a central role in persuading C.I.A. officials to use the harsh methods had never conducted a real interrogation, or that the Justice Department lawyer most responsible for declaring the methods legal had idiosyncratic ideas that even the Bush Justice Department would later renounce.
The process was “a perfect storm of ignorance and enthusiasm,” a former C.I.A. official said.
And, of course, no one volunteered to try them out.
Reporting from Washington — Prisoners could be kept awake for more than a week. They could be stripped of their clothes, fed nothing but liquid and thrown against a wall 30 consecutive times.
In one case, the CIA was told it could prey on a top Al Qaeda prisoner’s fear of insects by stuffing him into a box with a bug. When all else failed, the CIA could turn to what a Justice Department memo described as “the most traumatic” interrogation technique of all — waterboarding….
The Mahablog brings us a conversation between Rachel Maddow and Jonathan Turley, an expert on Constitutional law, about the possibility that members of the Bush administration could be prosecuted as war criminals by an international court of law.
The Mahablog » War Crimes