By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
George Bush's retreat on tortureas shown by his agreeing yesterday not to veto a measure backed by Senator John McCain that would ban U.S. interrogators from engaging in itcomes less because he checked his conscience, than because he had no other choice.
CIA War Crimes
CIA has documented every use of its exclusive 'enhanced interrogation techniques'
by Nat Hentoff
December 9th, 2005 6:20 PM
Nothing in the [Geneva] Conventions [on the treatment of prisoners of war] precludes directed interrogations. They do, however, prohibit torture and humiliation of detainees, whether or not they are deemed P.O.W.'s. These are standards that are never obsoletethey cut to the heart of how moral people must treat other human beings. John McCain , in Torture: A Human Rights Perspective, edited by Kenneth Roth and Minky Worden (The New Press)
In a November 21 USA Today interview with Porter Goss, the head of the CIA "declined to describe interrogation methods exclusive to the CIA." He thereby confirmed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's statement during his confirmation hearings that the CIA has "special powers." Where did the CIA get permission to overrule the rule of law? The word came from a classified directive by President George W. Bush soon after 9-11, and was confirmed by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. (Emphases added.)
Therefore, whatever is increasingly revealed about how the CIA uses its grant of cruel and unusual exclusivity in dealing with prisoners makes George W. Bush directly accountable for any crimes committed.
This president is not going to be impeached, except by history. However, historians will find reams of evidence against him and other members of his administration in such books as The Torture Papers, edited by Karen Greenberg and Joshua Dratel (Cambridge University Press), and Torture and Truth, by Mark Danner (a New York Review of Books volume).
Also contributing to the immutable record are such journalists as Dana Priest of The Washington Post and Brian Ross of ABC News. Revealing why the ratings of network television newscasts continue to drop is the disgraceful decision by the producers of ABC's World News Tonightto give only three and a half minutes to the Brian Ross investigation of some of the interrogation techniques Porter Goss will not describe.
But Ross and Richard Esposito detailed them at length on abcnews.com on November 18. (I believe the late Peter Jennings would have given much more than three and a half minutes to this breakthrough story on World News Tonight.)
Last week, I quoted what Brian Ross had found from present and former CIA officers and supervisors about extracting confessions from "water boarding." Ross also cited a description of that "exclusive" CIA technique by John Sifton of Human Rights Watch: "The person[s] believe they are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law."
Indeed, what we are learning about the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" are also violations of our own War Crimes Act (Section 2441 of the federal criminal code). This statute also provides that:
"Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime . . . shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life, or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death."
Our War Crimes Act criminalizes as a "war crime" a "grave breach" of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which this country ratified.
As page 1160 of The Torture Papers explains: "With respect to interrogation in armed conflict, Common Article 3 requires humane treatment generally, and specifically forbids 'cruel treatment and torture' or 'outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.' "
From CIA sources, Brian Ross has cited six of the "enhanced interrogation techniques." Among them is "Long Time Standing": "This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt on the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions."
Another technique is "The Cold Cell": "The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water."
Now, here is a smoking gun from the Ross report:
"According to CIA sources, Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi, after two weeks of enhanced interrogation, made statements that were designed to tell the interrogators what they wanted to hear . . . al Libbi had been subjected to each of the progressively harsher techniques in turn and finally broke after being water boarded and then left to stand naked in his cold cell overnight where he was doused with cold water at regular intervals.