Morning Report 12/21/04Bush and Torture


FBI agents saw torture by Israeli flag, by lit cigarettes in ears—under ‘executive order’

Terrible explosive news from Mosul this morning: A dining hall full of U.S. troops was blown up by rockets and mortars, killing at least 22.

A tragedy that’s laid at the feet of the Bush regime’s tragic foreign policy. Now, turn to the other explosive news: the FBI documents pried out of the government by the ACLU. They include memos by FBI agents with new information on U.S. torture techniques at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib:

• Agents saw “. . . strangulation, beatings, placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees’ ear openings, and unauthorized interrogations.”

• An FBI agent saw a prisoner draped with an Israeli flag, accompanied by loud music and flashing strobe lights. (This morning’s New York Times story on the FBI documents neglects to mention this torture-by-Israeli-flag, but you can bet your ass the Arab world will come unglued by this disgraceful and inflammatory behavior toward a Muslim by Americans.)

The “scorpion.” A prisoner alleges: “They tortured me and cuffed me in an act called the scorpion, and pouring cold water on me. They tortured me from morning until the morning of the next day, and when I fell down from the severe torture I fell on the barbed wires, and then they dragged me from my feet and I was wounded and, they punched me on my stomach.”

Feeling queasy? So were the FBI agents, who wrote to their superiors:

We emphatically do not equate any of these things our personnel witnessed with the clearly unlawful and sickening abuse at Abu G that has come to light. The things our personnel witnessed (but did not participate in) were authorized by the President under his Executive Order.

It’s a given that George W. Bush doesn’t know shit. But we still want to ask: What did Bush know of the interrogation “techniques” we’ve used on prisoners? And when did he know it?

Look at the documents yourself. As the questions mount, how will Bush’ handlers handle them—and him?

For a savvy description of how Bush is now dealing with the press, read “The President’s Grand Elusion” in this morning’s Washington Post. Dana Milbank wrote that Bush “showed at yesterday’s news conference that he has not forgotten his evasive maneuvers.” Milbank added:

As he fielded questions on everything from Iranian nukes to presidential personnel, the often blunt and plainspoken president employed the full range of artful dodges.

How will the press and public make Bush talk about torture? Draping an Israeli flag over him won’t work. He already does that himself.