America's Tortured Past - by Stephen Lendman
On August 24, an ACLU press release stated:
In response to two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, "The government today handed over to the American Civil Liberties Union (one of dozens of documents comprising an unprecedented 130,000 previously secret pages, including) a detailed official description of the CIA's interrogation program."
Referring to a heavily redacted December 2004 report (originally commissioned by CIA director George Tenet) detailing torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, it "describes the use of abusive interrogation techniques including forced nudity, sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation and stress positions." Far worse ones were understated or redacted entirely.
According to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:
The report "is a profoundly disturbing document that illustrates, as well as anything could, how far the CIA strayed from the law and from values that are integral to our democracy. That the barbaric methods outlined in the paper were approved by the country's senior-most officials is particularly appalling."
Bush's Justice Department office of legal counsel head, now a federal appeals court judge, Jay Bybee, advised the CIA that torture and threats of imminent death were legal if they didn't cause mental harm even though US and international law forbid all forms at all times with no exceptions allowed for any reason.
Given America's tortured past, none of this should surprise. More on that below.
On August 25 in The New York Times, Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti headlined: "Report Shows Tight CIA Control on Interrogations." Claiming it "focused on aberrations in the field," the writers said "by no means (did it represent) gung-ho operatives running wild. It is a portrait of overwhelming control exercised from CIA headquarters and the Department of Justice - control Bush administration officials say was intended to ensure that the program was safe and legal."
These same officials said:
-- federal courts have no jurisdiction and can't review detainee mistreatment or mistaken arrests;
-- US and international laws don't apply in the "war on terror;" and
-- the President as Commander-in-Chief enjoys "the fullest range of power to protect the nation....(that he has) complete discretion in the exercise of his authority in conducting operations against hostile forces."
The 2006 Military Commissions Act authorized torture, created the lawless category of "unlawful enemy combatants," denied them judicial fairness, claimed they can be disappeared, indefinitely detained with no right to counsel, then tried by kangaroo tribunals with no right of appeal and executed.
To protect national security, they may be subjected to all forms of abuse, innocent or guilty, and the right of "military necessity" justifies the most extreme mistreatment.
Any form of intense and prolonged physical and psychological torture may be inflicted short of causing injuries resulting in death, organ failure, or permanent damage - continuing America's long tradition of inflicting abusive barbaric treatment.