It’s official folks. When the authorization for torture tactics comes from no less than the president himself, the U.S. is officially in the torture business.
The two-page e-mail that references an Executive Order states that the President directly authorized interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and “sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc.” The ACLU is urging the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such an order and immediately to release the order if it exists. The FBI e-mail, which was sent in May 2004 from “On Scene Commander–Baghdad” to a handful of senior FBI officials, notes that the FBI has prohibited its agents from employing the techniques that the President is said to have authorized.
Another e-mail, dated December 2003, describes an incident in which Defense Department interrogators at Guantánamo Bay impersonated FBI agents while using “torture techniques” against a detainee. The e-mail concludes “If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD interrogators will not be held accountable because these torture techniques were done [sic] the ‘FBI’ interrogators. The FBI will [sic] left holding the bag before the public.”
The document also says that no “intelligence of a threat neutralization nature” was garnered by the “FBI” interrogation, and that the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF) believes that the Defense Department’s actions have destroyed any chance of prosecuting the detainee. The e-mail’s author writes that he or she is documenting the incident “in order to protect the FBI.”
Other allegations from these documents include:
- That military interrogators impersonated FBI agents, apparently to avoid possible blame in subsequent inquiries
- That this method was approved by Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
- The rape of a juvenile male detainee at Abu Ghraib prison, currently under investigation
- That one Guantanamo detainee was wrapped in an Israeli flag and bombarded with loud music in an apparent attempt to soften his resistance to interrogation.
The docuements themselves are available online. Read them for yourself. I know I will when I have some time.
It’s pretty clear that we can no longer say (with a straight face) that the U.S. doesn’t practice, engage in, or condone torture. And no matter what we’d like to think of ourselves, it’s clear we’re not the “good guys” anymore…unless “good guys” sometimes resort to torture. And if we aren’t the “good guys” anymore, if we ever were, what are we? How close are we to becoming everything that bin Laden & Co. say we are?