Tag Archives: torture
In a Newsweek article Jon Meacham states his case for “WHY DICK CHENEY SHOULD RUN IN 2012.”
He says, “A campaign would also give us an occasion that history denied us in 2008: an opportunity to adjudicate the George W. Bush years in a direct way. As John McCain pointed out in the fall of 2008, he is not Bush. Nor is Cheney, but the former vice president would make the case for the harder-line elements of the Bush world view. Far from fading away, Cheney has been the voice of the opposition since the inauguration. Wouldn’t it be more productive and even illuminating if he took his arguments out of the realm of punditry and into the arena of electoral politics? Are we more or less secure because of the conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Does the former vice president still believe in a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda? Did the counterterror measures adopted in the aftermath of the attacks go too far? Let’s have the fight and see what the country thinks.”
Other questions we might be able to settle —
- Would his war criminal record be a selling point with today’s new anti-war right?
- Since he embodies the America of old white men, could that myth be dispelled?
- Can Cheney prove he is actually alive? It’s rumored he died of his last heart attack and some are saying they’ve seen his long-form death certificate — complete with the seal!
- Is he truly devoid of knowledge of recent U.S. history, history over which he himself presided? He led the charge into Iraq in 2003 even after having warned in 1991 that such a strategy would lead to a quagmire. The U.S. wars of the last six decades (including the four for which Cheney shares responsibility) have all been marred by mishap, bad intelligence, flawed geopolitical analysis—and lack of necessity.
- Is it true he supported the McCain / Palin ticket because he knew only that keystone cops duo could have made the tragic incompetence of the previous fools look good in the history books?
What would be his campaign promises and slogans, would he emphasize his lack of civility, his well-known health problems, would he continue to loudly defend torture?
From the Washington Post we have this Op-Ed. Jeffery H. Smith is of the opinion that prosecuting criminal wrong-doing by the CIA and contractors will be bad for America. Interesting opinions by Mr. Smith, and some simple -minded refutations/reflections.
From Mr. Smith: “First, these techniques were authorized by the president and approved by the Justice Department. The relevant committees of Congress were briefed. Although the Justice Department’s initial legal opinions were badly flawed, the fact remains that the agency responsible for interpreting and enforcing the law said the techniques were “legal.” That alone will make prosecutions very difficult.”
From the Nixon era: “If the President does it, it must be legal.” That did work real well, before, didn’t it? Well, maybe not. This fundametnally assumes that the president and other government officials cannot break the law. Th0se of us who lived through the 1970’s , may have a different idea.
“Second, the CIA provided the inspector general’s report to the Justice Department in 2004. Justice has not prosecuted any CIA officers but did successfully prosecute a contractor who beat a detainee to death, an incident that was initially reported to the department by the CIA. What has changed that makes prosecution advisable now? No administration is above the law. But the decision of one administration to prosecute career officers for acts committed under a policy of a previous administration must be taken with the greatest care. Prosecutions would set the dangerous precedent that criminal law can be used to settle policy differences at the expense of career officers.”
This point assumes that politics supercedes the authority of law. I know some Republicans who wish this was reality, but, sorry folks, it is not… And never has been [period].
“Third, after Justice declined to prosecute, the CIA took administrative action, including disciplinary action against those officers whose conduct it deemed warranted such responses. This is standard procedure; reports of possible criminal activity must be referred to Justice. If it declines to prosecute, the matter is sent back to the CIA for appropriate administrative action.”
A tennis match between Justice and CIA, that is so much better than the investigations that are needed…
“Fourth, prosecuting CIA officers risks chilling current intelligence operations. This country faces an array of serious threats. A prosecution or extensive investigation will be an unmanageable expense for most CIA officers. More significant, their colleagues will become reluctant to take risks. What confidence will they have when their senior officers say not to worry, “this has been authorized by the president and approved by Justice”? And such reactions would be magnified if prosecutions focus only on the lower-ranking officers, not those in the chain of command. Such prosecutions are likely to create cynicism in the clandestine service, which is deeply corrosive to any professional service.”
Oh no…. we definitely do not want our intelligence services staff to follow the law. Such would be sooooo… inconvenient and maybe dangerous [see Bush re-election, 2004].
Fifth, prosecutions could deter cooperation with other nations. It is critical that we have the close cooperation of intelligence services around the world. Nations often work together through their intelligence services on matters of mutual interest, such as combating terrorism, even if political relations are strained or nonexistent. The key to this cooperation is the ability of the United States to be a reliable partner and keep secrets. Prosecuting CIA officers undermines that essential element of successful intelligence liaison.
This silly idea assumes that our alliances have a vested interest in us lying about what we are doing. I am willing to pose the really stupid idea that this is might not be the case.
Sixth, President Obama has decisively changed the policies that caused so much damage. He recognizes that it is vital to our security to have an effective intelligence community that is not distracted by looking backward and coping with congressional investigations and grand jury subpoenas.
The central assumption here is that we have to ignore of criminal wrong-doings to move forward. I thought one had to confess one’s sins to move forward; please quote the Bible verse that claims otherwise…
Shaking my head; can’t you guys do better than this?
This is an open letter to the membership of the American Psychological Association from the Board of Directors. It is quite interesting.
June 22, 2009
An Open Letter from the Board of Directors
As a psychologist and member of the American Psychological Association (APA), you no doubt share our serious concerns about reports regarding the involvement of psychologists in torture and abusive interrogations as part of the Bush administration’s “war on terror.” We recognize that the issue of psychologist involvement in national security-related investigations has been an extremely difficult and divisive one for our association. We also understand that some of our members continue to be disappointed and others angered by the association’s actions in this regard. Although APA has had a longstanding policy against psychologist involvement in torture, many members wanted the association to take a strong stand against any involvement of psychologists in national security interrogations during the Bush administration.
Information has emerged in the public record confirming that, as committed as some psychologists were to ensuring that interrogations were conducted in a safe and ethical manner, other psychologists were not. Although there are countless psychologists in the military and intelligence community who acted ethically and responsibly during the post-9/11 era, it is now clear that some psychologists did not abide by their ethical obligations to never engage in torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The involvement of psychologists, no matter how small the number, in the torture of detainees is reprehensible and casts a shadow over our entire profession. APA expresses its profound regret that any psychologist has been involved in the abuse of detainees.
This has been a painful time for the association and one that offers an opportunity to reflect and learn from our experiences over the last five years. APA will continue to speak forcefully in further communicating our policies against torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment to our members, the Obama administration, Congress, and the general public. In so doing, we will continue to highlight our 2008 petition resolution policy, Psychologists and Unlawful Detention Settings with a Focus on National Security. APA will ensure that association communications convey clearly that the petition resolution is official association policy and must be central to psychologists’ assessment of the appropriateness of their roles in specific work settings related to national security. Our association’s governing body, the Council of Representatives, will soon be receiving guidance from various governance groups regarding further steps to implement this resolution. The history of APA positions and actions related to detainee welfare and professional ethics can be found at http://www.apa.org/releases/timeline.html.
On a closely related matter, the Ethics Committee and APA governance as a whole are focused intently on Ethics Code Standards 1.02 and 1.03, which address conflicts between ethics and law and between ethics and organizational demands, respectively. In light of Bush administration interrogation policies and uncertainty among our membership, the Ethics Committee has issued the attached statement, “No defense to torture under the APA Ethics Code.” Invoking language from the U.N. Convention Against Torture, this statement clarifies that the Ethics Committee “will not accept any defense to torture in its adjudication of ethics complaints.” APA will continue to monitor material in official reports related to psychologist mistreatment of national security detainees, will investigate reports of unethical conduct by APA members, and will adjudicate cases in keeping with our Code of Ethics. The association’s focus on these ethical standards is consistent with its position that no psychologist involved in detainee abuse should escape accountability.
In conclusion, as part of APA’s elected leadership, we have an obligation to protect and further psychology’s longstanding commitment to the highest standards of professional ethics—including, and especially, the protection of human welfare.
American Psychological Association 2009 Board of Directors
James H. Bray, PhD
Carol D. Goodheart, EdD
Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D
Barry S. Anton, PhD
Paul L. Craig, PhD
Norman B. Anderson, PhD
Rosie Phillips Bingham, PhD
Jean A. Carter, PhD
Armand R. Cerbone, PhD
Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD
Melba J.T. Vasquez, PhD
Michael Wertheimer, PhD
Konjit V. Page, MS
Mohammed Jawad was taken into U.S. custody during our war in Afghanistan. He confessed to throwing a hand grenade that injured U.S. soldiers. It was later revealed that this confession was obtained with torture. He is from a poor Afghan family where exact dates of birth are not known. It is probable that he was born in 1991 based upon his mother’s recollection of significant events – this in turn means that in 2003 when Jawad was captured that he was 12 years old. The official U.S. documents contend that he was age 18 when he was transferred to the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay – this is unlikely.
The U.S. Army officer assigned to conduct Jawad’s military tribunal removed himself from the case due to his inability to “in good conscience” complete this assignment.
The photo above was taken three months before Jawad was captured.
Speaking to an audience in Michigan, Bush asserted that the information obtained in enhanced interrogations saved American lives. He avoided criticizing Obama for his interrogation policy changes.
From the CNN article:
“The former president earned a noisy standing ovation when asked what he wants his legacy to be.
“‘Well, I hope it is this: The man showed up with a set of principles, and he was unwilling to sacrifice his soul for the sake of popularity,’ he said.”
Dick Cheney: ” Torture? It never happened.”
“Care to join me for a work out?!”
David Addington: “Torture? I don’t remember, but what does that word mean???”
Phillip Zelikow, serving as counsel to Condi Rice, suggests that his memos questioning the legal arguments for enhanced interrogations disappeared and he is blaming Cheney for the cover up.
Read more here for the Mother Jones report.
Mark Danner wrote an Op Ed piece for the Washington Post entitled, If Everyone Knew, Who’s to Blame? which appeared in yesterday’s WaPo. In this opinion piece he recollects the political calculations that entered into our government’s decisions to pursue torture and fears that led the party out of power to avert its eyes from the lawlessness.
Cheney, et al. justified torture because it “protected us from further attacks.” The most poignant line from Danner’s writing is this rebuttal of that justification: “This argument, still strongly supported by a great many Americans, is deeply pernicious, for it holds that it is impossible to protect the country without breaking the law. It says that the professed principles of the United States, if genuinely adhered to, doom the country to defeat. It reduces our ideals and laws to a national decoration, to be discarded at the first sign of danger.”
The Democrats in Congress backed away from opposing “enhanced interrogations” for fear of being accused of “coddling terrorists.” Interestingly, the Democrats lack of character on this issue was rewarded by the 2006 election results.
Danner convinces me that if we are ever to have any variety of moral standing in the world again, we will need to have a reckoning on our transgressions and fears that led to our adoption of torture.