Bush torture policy goal was false confessions, not intel

The character-restrictions on topic titles are draconian, incidentally! I actually wanted this thread to be called “Bush torture policy was top-down, systematic and politically-motivated with false confessions as its goal”

Senate Armed Services Committee Report Revelations on Bush Torture Policy

Here’s why it was politically-motivated:

[quote]And what‘s fascinating here, if you run the timeline side by side, you see, really, for the first time from that report that the key thing being sent down in terms of the request by the policymakers, by the White House, is find a link between Saddam and al Qaeda so that we essentially can link Saddam to the 9/11 attacks and then march into Iraq with the anger of 9/11 behind us. That was the goal and that was being passed down as the directive.

It‘s, you know, it‘s often called the requirement inside the CIA for both agents with their sources and interrogators with their captives. “Here‘s what we‘re interested in, here‘s what we, the duly elected leaders, want to hear about. Tell us what you can find.”

[b]What‘s fascinating, in the Senate report, is finally clear confirmation that that specific thing was driving many of the activities, and mind you, the frustration inside of the White House that was actually driving action. The quote, in fact, inside of the Senate report from a major said that as frustration built inside of the White House, that there was no link that was established—because the CIA told the White House from the very start there is no Saddam/al Qaeda link. We checked it out. We did every which way. Sorry.

The White House simply wouldn‘t take no for an answer and it went with another method. Torture was the method. “Get me a confession, I don‘t care how you do it.” And that bled all the way through the government, both on the CIA side and the Army side. It‘s extraordinary.[/b][/quote]

So what the White House wanted with all this “gloves come off” methodology was not intel to prevent some further terrorist attack or catch more bad guys, but political cover for their non-9/11 related invasion of Iraq. But here’s the clincher:

[quote]Today‘s declassified congressional report confirms in detail that even before we had captured any high-value al Qaeda suspects after 9/11, geniuses at the upper echelons of the Bush administration decided that they would use SERE techniques to develop a new American interrogation program. From the report, quote, “Senior officials approved the use of interrogation techniques that were originally designed to simulate abusive tactics used by our enemies against our own soldiers, and that were modeled in part on tactics used by the communist Chinese to illicit false confessions from U.S. military personnel.”

In other words, the Bush administration developed an interrogation program from the techniques that were used on American prisoners of war to get false confessions out of them. Hmm. What could possibly go wrong?[/quote]

There’s a lot more on this aspect of the story - Rachel interview former military interrogator Colonel Steven Kleinman; please refer to the transcript or listen to the show, rather than letting me spoon-feed you the whole thing.

The thing is, it makes total sense. It always seemed ridiculous that the Bush administration would go in this clearly illegal and dis-credited direction when there were already sound, well-proven, pre-existing techniques for interrogation. The point was, information was simply NOT their objective! They didn’t want the detainees to give them actual intel; they wanted them to fabricate intel that matched their story regarding Al Qaeda vis-a-vis Iraq.

And here’s how we now know it was also systemic…

[quote]what we can now see—thanks to all this newly-declassified, on-the-record information—is that in these two different things run by two different agencies, we were doing the same things to people when it came to interrogations—things that we never did before. Sticking a prisoner in a cold cell, chain him to the ceiling, sleep deprivation, stress positions—we never did that stuff before. Then all of a sudden, it started happening everywhere—in the CIA prisons, in the military prisons—everywhere.

How does that happen? How do we end up with the same totally new techniques that Americans never would have been told to use before, being used on prisoners caught up in these two totally different systems?

There is a place where these two systems connect. And it‘s not at the bottom. It‘s not at the level of the bad apples. It‘s not at the operational level.

There wasn‘t a National Guard corporal from Ohio inventing the “menace them with dogs” technique at Abu Ghraib and then calling his friend at the CIA who worked at a secret prison in Poland and telling her to try that out. That is not the level at which these systems link.

These two things link not at the bottom but at the top. They link in Washington. From the newly-declassified Senate Armed Services Committee report, quote, “Senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.”[/quote]

Regrettably, it was not just the Bush and Republicans who were involved…

[quote]House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was briefed in September 2002 on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, according to a report prepared by the Director of National Intelligence’s office and obtained by FOX News.

The report seems to contradict a statement by Pelosi last month that she was never told that waterboarding or other enhanced interrogation techniques were being used on terrorism suspects.

The report was submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee and federal officials Wednesday.

Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said the speaker was under the impression the techniques were legal and waterboarding was not used.

“As this document shows, the speaker was briefed only once, in September 2002,” he said. “The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not yet been used.”

Republicans have already accused Pelosi and other Democrats of having selective and politically motivated amnesia when it comes to who knew what, and when, about the Bush-era interrogation programs. Those accusations were leveled in light of a Washington Post story published in 2007 that quoted two officials saying
the California Democrat and three other lawmakers had received an hour-long secret briefing on the interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, and that they raised no objections at the time.

Pelosi is among Democratic lawmakers who want an independent commission established to investigate officials and lawyers involved in the drafting the of interrogation methods.

Justice Department officials have stopped short of recommending criminal charges against the Bush administration lawyers who wrote the memos approving the methods.

A person familiar with the inquiry told The Associated Press that investigators recommended referring two of the three lawyers to state bar associations for possible disciplinary action[/quote]

That’s America. I can’t believe this is somehow news to anyone.

Correct. America is not a country that does no wrong, but it is a country that washes it’s dirty laundry in public.

Quite unlike some of our brothers across the way.

[quote=“dantesolieri”]Regrettably, it was not just the Bush and Republicans who were involved…

Ah… tu quoque. (“Some Democrats did it too, so that makes it OK!”) :unamused:

By America, of course I mean “the West.” Still though, I can’t believe this is news to anyone.

Did not say that so stop rolling your eyes…

But, I am looking through the report and I see three people waterboarded. The others were subjected to the “attention grab” and to being pushed against a soft wall that was made deliberately soft to make a louder noise when they were “slapped” against it. Then, there was putting a caterpillar in a cell, facing barking dogs, sleep deprivation, playing around with temperatures, uncomfortable positions… these are not acceptable, but compared with what happens in most police cells throughout the world, I am also not in a mood of strict condemnation. I think that much of the posturing regarding this issue is less to do with the morality or immorality of the “torture” in question (and if it is, it certainly falls at the very low end of what would qualify as torture) and more to do with scoring political points. Pelosi tried to do this and now she is being embarrassed by disclosures that she herself has called for. Obama tries to close Guantanamo and now backtracks. I am not sure whether the actions of those two are any better than the lies and legal shenanigans of Bush administration officials. Now, I would also like to see a total disclosure of the number of nations and number of times these nations aided in renditions or participated in said actions while fully understanding that they would lead to “torture.” I am sure that would take the wind out of a lot of the non-American sails that seem to be billowing so with swollen righteous indignation. Who knows, but this may soon be forthcoming as well. Those calling for the “truth” today may be a bit shamefaced tomorrow…

The second issue is how these revelations while actually impact the fight against terrorists. If these revelations are putting people on the spot, then perhaps, in the future, they may not be willing to cooperate and then… another 911? is it possible? is it worth the tradeoff? I am not sure… what do the rest of you think? Can we have our cake and eat it to? No torture or tough interrogation AND safety?

I’m looking at a report that says the government engaged in war crimes, violations of domestic and international law, and tried to cover their bases with bogus legal memos that were designed not to advise on what is legal but to justify decisions already made. By any standard, this should outrage anyone who has even the slightest respect for the rule of law. By any standards it means disbarring the lawyers who wrote such memos and investigating the people who asked for them.

Sandman is wrong: western countries for the most part (France an exception) have not engaged in top-down torture programs. Yes, torture has occured but there is no evidence of the heads of state creating such programs. This was different.

Dante as always is grossly misinformed. By world standards these were serious incidents of torture as evidenced by the fact the techniques were ones designed by the Russians, Nazis and Chinese to extract false confessions. Techniques that rightly put these regimes on the list of gross violators of human rights.

But it’s all fairly simple. The Bush admin overturned common moral prohibitions against torture, broke the law and did so in part to extract false confessions to justify an invasion of Iraq. If that doesn’t make your blood boil then what does?

Muzhaman:

What do you say then when you understand that the Democrats involved signed off on all of this as well? What then do you say to nearly every Western nation from Canada to Europe that has participated? and I categorically disagree that the level of “torture” that we have seen here is the equivalent of the Nazis, Japanese, Chinese Communists or Soviets. And, again, what are you willing to trade to stay safe… or should that not even be a consideration? This is what we seemed to have arrived at when Obama won the presidency and there was going to be a house cleaning. Am I mistaken or does he not seem to be backtracking pretty fast on Guantanamo, wiretapping, and even to some extent interrogation methods? Ironically, had he not called for a house cleaning along these lines, we might not have found out how much Nancy Pelosi had actually known about this and signed off on. It is a bit funny to see her discomfiture regarding this issue after her grand posturing. Three terrorists waterboarded vs. 1,000s of US military and special operative personnel as part of their training. 100s being placed in uncomfortable conditions (hot, cold, stress positions) when the military, police and firemen engage in this kind of training by the millions…

This was not in the Senate Report. It was the “interpretation” of the “journalist.”

By America, of course I mean “the West.” Still though, I can’t believe this is news to anyone.[/quote]

Oh…“the West”…well that’s okay then. Reminds me back in the day arguing about Western Marxists and Capitalism.

I didn’t know we had a monopoly on poor behavior. But then who is, “we”, anyway?

[quote=“dantesolieri”]Muzhaman:

What do you say then when you understand that the Democrats involved signed off on all of this as well? What then do you say to nearly every Western nation from Canada to Europe that has participated? and I categorically disagree that the level of “torture” that we have seen here is the equivalent of the Nazis, Japanese, Chinese Communists or Soviets. And, again, what are you willing to trade to stay safe… or should that not even be a consideration? This is what we seemed to have arrived at when Obama won the presidency and there was going to be a house cleaning. Am I mistaken or does he not seem to be backtracking pretty fast on Guantanamo, wiretapping, and even to some extent interrogation methods? Ironically, had he not called for a house cleaning along these lines, we might not have found out how much Nancy Pelosi had actually known about this and signed off on. It is a bit funny to see her discomfiture regarding this issue after her grand posturing. Three terrorists waterboarded vs. 1,000s of US military and special operative personnel as part of their training. 100s being placed in uncomfortable conditions (hot, cold, stress positions) when the military, police and firemen engage in this kind of training by the millions…[/quote]

It doesn’t matter if you disagree. These were common techniques used by such regimes and for which they were roundly condemned.

I say it is disgraceful that so many other countries gave assistance or cover for this program. That Democrats were involved is not surprising but irrelevant.

Safety? Of course it is a consideration but from the start the people who have been most outraged and most vocal in their criticism of torture have been people in the military and intelligence. The right tries to paint this as left opposition but that is not how it began or where some of the toughest voices against torture come from.

The Bush admin was not interested in safety or they would have had a sincere debate about whether such a program was likely to do more harm than good. They didn’t have that debate. They did this in secret and when the world was exposed to Abu Ghraib pinned the blame on some low level soldiers. That also should make your blood boil. Lindsey England should be a hero for you. But instead she rots in prison for following orders from the top.

To make it clear I am saying we should not torture. It has been considered anathema in the west for centuries and should remain that way. It goes against all our notions of fairness and justice and by all accounts doesn’t even work very well as it is more likely to lead to false confessions than reliable information.

Immoral and impractical. Is this your idea of a sound policy?

But it hardly represents the excesses that those regimes regularly committed. To thus compare these actions fully with those of the four mentioned is gross exaggeration.

Not irrelevant. I think that it is very important how many nations and players have chosen to participate in this process. I am not sure what to think.

I agree with this point.

And no Democrat who was advised of these measures said anything… no European government leaked this to the press… I am just wondering why…

Perhaps, but the CIA claims that the information that it got from KSM was in fact actionable and valuable. It supposedly staved off a major attack on LA. Now, I am not sure if this is true. I need to hear more before I rush to “summary judgement.”

Given that the “torture” was at the very lowest end of the scale… not exactly reaching the depths of depravity, eh? and that it perhaps (we must wait and see) led to actionable and valuable information that saved lives… then a balance is needed.

I note here that other posters on this issue have pointed out that except for waterboarding, much of the other “torture” is really an almost common occurrence at most police stations. If you are arrested in Taiwan at night, they like to keep you up and uncomfortable precisely to wear you out. Shall we then call this torture as well? I take your point but there are degrees of torture and the ones that have been used are not going to cause me to lose any sleep. I think that your concerns here are valid but a bit precious at the same time. Ultimately, the true test is that, in most cases, no useful intelligence is gleaned from such actions and that is precisely why the military and intelligence officers were so against its use.

Lindsay England… not sure what to think. Might have been instructed to roughen up prisoners but given that this particular type of abuse occurred only in this particular unit, I am going to think that they pretty much came up with this on their own…

By America, of course I mean “the West.” Still though, I can’t believe this is news to anyone.[/quote]

Oh…“the West”…well that’s okay then. Reminds me back in the day arguing about Western Marxists and Capitalism.

I didn’t know we had a monopoly on poor behavior. But then who is, “we”, anyway?[/quote]
I have no idea who “we” is. I’m talking about governments. The very idea that they won’t do WHATEVER they think is necessary or what they think they can get away with is simply laughable to me. The very idea that the faceless men in suits in Washington, London, or wherever are somehow less morally repugnant than those in Moscow or Beijing is utterly laughable.

[quote=“dantesolieri”]Muzhaman:

What do you say then when you understand that the Democrats involved signed off on all of this as well? [/quote]
I can answer this:

Prosecute all involved: Republican, Democrat or other. A war crime is a war crime.

I note again that what individual posters think is not terribly relevant when the laws against torture and the mistreatment of prisoners are clear.

People like you always resort to the simplistic, well, what about this? Okay here’s one. If CIA agents anally raped KSM would this be torture? Not according to Bush thinking as the pain would be temporary and not disfiguring. So, rape is now okay? So much for the morality of your position.

You may also recal that Orwell’s 1984 concludes with Winston being tortured with the threat of rats. Strange how we all knew before that exploiting phobias was torture when applied to someone under your complete control. But now? It’s just a prank.

But getting hung up on techniques is a distraction. This is largely about the rule of the law and the attempts by the Bush admin to assume executive powers that become dictatorial. Bush assumed the power to declare anyone an enemy combatent. This then gave him the power to detain that person indefinitely and torture if it was felt to be necessary. This power extended over foreign AND American citizens.

Conservatives used to be against unchecked executive power. What happened to you guys?

Conservative are against unchecked executive power (and judicial and legislative power for that matter.) Banana Republicans are a different story though. Their excuse that, after 224 years, the United States suddenly discovered that it needs to torture people in order to defend itself doesn’t mask the fact that what really motivates them is that they enjoy pulling the wings off of Arabs for some reason.

Banana Republicans do have a point though. If only we’d discovered our inner Mengele earlier then maybe the last hundred years wouldn’t have been so dangerous for America because instead of being at odds with Commies and Nazis and the Land of the Rising Sun et al we might have found common cause with them.

Spook-
Please make it clear that you speak for and provide definitions reflect only your view of things.

The comments you make have faint association with anything outside your spectrum of cognition.

[quote=“TainanCowboy”]Spook-
Please make it clear that you speak for and provide definitions reflect only your view of things.

The comments you make have faint association with anything outside your spectrum of cognition.[/quote]

Okay.

To whom it may concern:

I speak only for those conservatives who clearly understand that, while torture may often be expedient, it is always morally wrong.

Furthermore, we believe that rule of law is a bedrock principle of the United States and not something only to be paid lip service to.

I don’t speak for those who call themselves conservatives yet besmirch everything generations of Americans have fought and died for by supporting the practice of torture be their government and behaving as if they and their leaders are above the law.

expedient but morally wrong works for me.

Again, there are gradations and levels of torture… I feel as if I have a Geneva Convention claim every time I take a bus here or walk down the sidewalk dodging umbrella swinging xiaojies… I am only half joking… If my company posts me to Shanghai and I have to live in all that air pollution… am I being tortured? It will cause long-lasting health problems. Will my company not be liable because this was not the direct intention of my assuming responsibilities there? Sorry, but three individuals being waterboarded when hundreds and thousands of US military and intelligence operatives go through the same thing… leads me to believe that not all torture is equivalent and to Sandman that does not make some desk jockey in DC “equally morally repugnant” in my view. Sorry, but I just do not see this.