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Tortured Folks

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Cross-posted from Reader Supported News

One of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison torture images, 04/15/04.
One of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison torture images, 04/15/04.
(Image by US Guards Abu Ghraib)
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"In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks."

-- President Barack Obama, Friday, 1 August 2014

That long overdue moment of candor is remarkable not for what it reveals but for what it foreshadows.

Anyone with the courage to want to know has known for over a decade that the U.S., particularly under the administration of George W. Bush, was engaged in a widespread, multinational, highly coordinated campaign of illegal detentions, kidnappings, abuses, and calculated acts of unspeakable torture and murder.

It should be noted that Obama spoke in the run-up to the long awaited Senate torture report. That's significant, because we are left wondering if the pending release of the report didn't force Obama's hand. It begs the question, if the report caused CIA director John Brennan to admit the agency had spied on Senate members, and Obama to admit that the U.S. had engaged in "torture," then what's in the report?

If you don't like the way Obama handled the admission of torture, then you will love the way the Republican members of the Senate react. They appear ready to double down on denial ... big time.

When "folks get tortured" it's always useful to remember the folks that did the torturing.

The Architects

At the center of the Bush administration's Geneva Convention-shredding torture mill was Dr. Stephen A. Cambone. In 2007, in the run up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Cambone was named by George W. Bush to head the newly minted post of Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, USD(I).

From that position, Cambone would marshal a campaign of systemic international kidnapping, torture, and assassination. He served directly under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and has been called Rumsfeld's enforcer, chief henchman, and guard dog. But to say that Cambone was a just another participant in the interrogation process would badly under-underestimate the zealousness of his involvement, and the commanding role that he played.

Cambone, with the mentoring of America's foremost bible-thumping lieutenant general, William Boykin, was the architect of the gruesome acts of torture that occurred at the Abu Ghraib prison/interrogation center in Iraq. The definitive overview of Cambone's primary role in the Bush administration's kidnapping, torture, and murder rampage is Jeffrey St. Clair's "Rumsfeld's Enforcer." It's a bone-jarring account. There is without question ample evidence to indict Stephen A. Cambone on war crimes charges.

An anonymous U.S. general is reported to have told the Army Times, "If I had one round left in my revolver, I'd take out Stephen Cambone."

Cambone's boss was of course Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld was more hands-on when it came to establishing interrogation policy than his boss George W. Bush, but less hands-on than Cambone. Rumsfeld took greater care in insulating himself from potential war crimes prosecution. Rumsfeld did, however, author a set of authorized enhanced interrogation techniques. The memo was titled, "Counter-Resistance Techniques in the War on Terrorism (S)."

In the memo, Rumsfeld lays out method after method that he feels compelled to qualify by saying, "Other nations believe detainees are entitled to POW protections," followed by a citation. He then goes on in each instance to encourage their use and marginalize the legal consequence. It should be noted that the specific techniques Rumsfeld referred to do not include waterboarding, the use of attack dogs, sexual humiliation, or murder, which are clearly chronicled in numerous documents from those years.

The Enablers

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Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, now the founder, editor and publisher of Reader Supported News: http://www.readersupportednews.org

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