Monday, December 20, 2004

Not Just a "Legal Paper" Mr. Limbaugh

Limbaugh the Blind, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

He Can't See What's In Front Of Him!

So Mr. Limbaugh, lesser known brother to Rush, but no less misguided in his thought is "fed up with the scapegoating of Mr. Gonzales" over the torture issue, or in his words from his article in the Washington Times:

"Why do so many critics jump to the defense of this depraved enemy we're fighting, whether by leaping to the conclusion the Marine in Fallujah "murdered" the enemy soldier who could have been pretending to sleep, or presuming that our government lawyers are anxious to condone the abuse of terrorist prisoners

How about just once giving those in charge of managing our national security and those directly putting their lives on the line the benefit of the doubt?"

Mr Limbaugh seems to take the attitude that so many on the Right seem to take that since our side is the only true and correct side of the conflict, we have the right to win by any means necessary, and that the ends justify the means. so what if we torture the enemy? They attack us first, and - on 9/11 2004, they attacked us most savagely.

I'll tell you "so what" Mr. Limbaugh, and I'll go you one better. I'll tell how our national identity and self-worth are being sold down the tubes by these new "crusaders for democracy", and "guardians of freedom".

You seem to say that when it comes to questionable actions and war crimes, the enemy has no problem committing them, and we have every right to "get to the the line" as long as we don't cross it. I say that when you see the line touch your toe, you've already crossed it.

What the enemy does on the field or off of it is never under our control. You can appeal it, pressure against it, but never change it. It is what we do on our own turf sir, not on anyone elses, that gives us our moment of truth. It's not what the enemy will do with his captives and victims who beg for mercy, or how he will feel, or can he answer for himself. It's what you will do. How will you face the one begging you for mercy? And will you face the Man In The Mirror?

It may be inconvenient for you to face Mr. Limbaugh, but I have to face it. Mr. Gonzales deserves to face his critics because he has been in a position not only to alter our rules of military behavior, he has turned us from being the "good guy" into the villain.

It doesn't matter what the intentions were at the top when the policy was changed. The law of unintended consequences always takes over. And if the policy change is radical and worded vaguely and with what one may construe as precarious implications, the consequences could be devastating. In the right climate, "Agresssive Interrogation" very frequently becomes torture.

Take for example that very memo you mentioned that Jay Bybee sent to Gonzales:

"We conclude that for an act to constitute torture as defined in Section 2340, it must inflict pain that is difficult to endure. Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death".

Those are some very broad parameters sir. That leaves a big grey hole in the middle where many things can fall in. According to Wikipedia :

"In 1978 in the European Court of Human Rights trial "Ireland v. the United Kingdom" the facts were not in dispute and the court published the following in their judgement:

These methods, sometimes termed "disorientation" or "sensory deprivation" techniques, were not used in any cases other than the fourteen so indicated above. It emerges from the Commission's establishment of the facts that the techniques consisted of:

(a) wall-standing: forcing the detainees to remain for periods of some hours in a "stress position", described by those who underwent it as being "spreadeagled against the wall, with their fingers put high above the head against the wall, the legs spread apart and the feet back, causing them to stand on their toes with the weight of the body mainly on the fingers";

(b) hooding: putting a black or navy coloured bag over the detainees' heads and, at least initially, keeping it there all the time except during interrogation;

(c) subjection to noise: pending their interrogations, holding the detainees in a room where there was a continuous loud and hissing noise;

(d) deprivation of sleep: pending their interrogations, depriving the detainees of sleep;

(e) deprivation of food and drink: subjecting the detainees to a reduced diet during their stay at the centre and pending interrogations.

It refered to the above as the "the five techniques" and ruled:

167. ... Although the five techniques, as applied in combination, undoubtedly amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, although their object was the extraction of confessions, the naming of others and/or information and although they were used systematically, they did not occasion suffering of the particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture as so understood. ...

168. The Court concludes that recourse to the five techniques amounted to a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment, which practice was in breach of [the European Convention on Human Rights] Article 3 (art. 3)."

Avoiding that word "torture", we are left with that grey hole. And where there is a void sir, something likes to fill it.


"Total as of 8 Jul 04: 10 Substantiated incidents; 11 Unsubstantiated incidents

1 Substantiated: 10 incidents - All 1st MARDIV - 0 OIF I, 2 OIF II
24 suspects; 10 Court-martial convictions - 1 General court-martial, 6 Special Courts-martial; 3 Summary Courts-martial
2 Non-judicial Punishments ( 1 followed by Board of Inquiry & pending discharge)
6 - charges withdrawn or dismissed
6 cases pending:
3 pending General Courts-martial
1 pending Special Court-martial
1 pending p.11
1 pending art 32 investigation
2 Unsubstantiated: 1] incidents; 25 known suspects & unknown number of other suspects (2NJPs fot false official statements alleging abuse).
3 Other; One detainee death investigated with no allegation of abuse.
Five investigations pending."

From the substantiated cases two glare out quite ominously:

"[6] 4th LARBn, 1st

3 Aug 03
3 Aug 03

LOCATION: Al Mumudiyah, Iraq (LSA Dogwood)
ALLEGATION: Mistreated detainee XXX by causing 2nd degree burns/blisters to back of of detainee's hands. Detainee requested to use hand sanitizer following a head call. As the detainee squatted down, a Marine guard suirted alchohol-based sanitizer into hands; excess cleaner formed puddle on floor. As the Marine guard turned to dispose of the empty bottle, XXXX lit a match & threw onto the puddle of hand sanitizer. The liquid ignited, & flames burned the detainee's hands, causing large blisters.


SPCM 5 Apr 04
Guilty of Art 128 assault with likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm.
Confinement 90 days,
Red to E-2


[7] 2nd Bn 2d MAR
(2/2 is based at Camp Lejeune NC with 2d MARDIV


13 Apr 04
15 Apr 04

SUSPECTS: (1) XXXXXXX shocked victim. (2) XXXXXXXX helped PFC Sting operate (3) XXXXXXXXX-escort for victim while he was shocked. (4) XXXXXXXXX-HET NCO, present during incident (5) discussed shocking detainees before

LOCATION: Al Mahmudiya, Iraq (2/2 holding area)

ALLEGATION: XXXXXXX reported he witnessed XXXXXXXX & XXXXX shock an Iraqi detainee with an electric transformer; that XXXXXXX held the wires against the shoulder area of the detainee & that the detainee "danced" as he was shocked. The detainee-victim was released on 14 April & cannot be located.

(vice NCIS)

(1) GCM 14 May 04 Camp Fallujah, Iraq Guilty of assault, cruelty & maltreatment, dereliction, & conspiracy to assault Iraqi detainee.
SENTENCE: 1 yr conf; red E-1 total forf; BCD

(2) SPCM 14 May 04 Camp Fallujah, Iraq Guilty of cruelty & maltreatment, dereliction, False official stmt, orders violation, & conspiracy to commit assault
SENTENCE: 8 mos conf , red E-1, total forf, BCD

(3) Pending SPCM

(4) Pending p11. SNM not in room, ordered Marines to stop when heard commotion & reported it to others.

(5) Pending GCM

(1) & (2) disciplinary action completed

(3) Pending SPCM 8 Jul 04

(4) Pending p11

(5) Pending GCM 24-28 Ju 04"

Yet sir, you continue to treat this matter as if it were only some legalistic matter, worthy only of intellectual endeavor. I found this passage particularly shocking:

"What about the critics' outrage that the memo reportedly said that inflicting moderate or fleeting pain does not necessarily constitute torture? For heaven's sake, this was a legal memo, not some advocacy paper. If the attorneys' research led them to that conclusion, we must not shoot the messengers for delivering their finding."

Sadly. you then proceed to show in your column the kind of immaturity your side has shown more then once when it knows it's position is morally indefensible. You argue that in any case Gonzales's little memo had nothing whatsoever to do with the policy followed at Sarpooza and Abu Ghraib. But there is a "smoking gun". One can say that the President wouldn't have had to approve of torture as defined by Gonzales and Bybee, but according to the January 24 memo from Gonzales to the President, Bush certainly did approve of everything that Gonzales had suggested:

" On January 18, I advised you (the President) that the Department of Justice had issued a formal opinion concluding that the Geneva Convention III on the Treatment of Prisoners of War (GPW) doeas not apply to the with al Qaeda. I also advised you that DOJ's opinion concludes that there are reasonable grounds for you to conclude that GPW does not apply with respect to the conflict with the Taliban. I understand that you decided that GPW does not apply and, accordingly, that al Quaed and Taliban detainees are not prisoners of war under the GPW."

Next, as if to give himself cover in case it all goes wrong, Gonzales advises Bush that could "as a matter of policy, decide to apply the principles of GPW to the conflict with al Qaeda and the Taliban."

Then afterwards he like any other good advisor gives Bush the pros and cons, ( where he excuses the rush from morality to expediency behind the purely legalistic construct that if he doesn't apply the GPW to either of these entities there will be no basis for him to apply it later - he will have set the precedent) he goes ahead and advises against applying the GPW. At this point, because Mr. Gonzales says that GPW III doesn't apply to guerilla armies and revolutionary governments it would be interesting to find how the Nuremberg Trials dealt with German anti-partisan warfare in their proceedings. Certainly anything to do with prisoners and noncombatants was treated as a war crime there.

In any case, the evidence that there was a top-down application of a policy of near torture emanating from the higher echelons, and that Mr. Gonzales knowingly enabled it, is also quite clear at the other end. That senior officers were following that line of thinking is clear in the emails sent by certain operatives in the FBI:

"We did advise each supervisor that went to GITMO to stay in line with Bureau policy and not deviate from that. I went to GITMO with XXXX early on and we discussed the effectiveness XXXXXXXXXXXXXX with the SSA. We (BAU and ITOS1) had also met with General's Dunlevey & Miller explaining our position (Law Enforcement techniques) vs, DoD. Both agreed the Bureau has their way of doing business and DoD has their marching orders from the Sec Def. Although the two techniques differed drastically both Generals believed they had ajob to accomplish. It was our mission to gather critical intelligence and evidence XXXXXXXXXXXXXX in furtherance of FBI cases. In weekly meetings with DOJ we often discussed XXXXXXXXXXX techniques and they were not effective on producing Intel that was reliable. XXXXXXXX (SES) XXXXXXXXXXX(SES)XXXXXXXXXXXXX(now SESXXXXXXXX at the time) and XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX(SES Appointee) all from DOJ Criminal Division attended meetings with FBI. We all agreed XXXXXXXXXXXXXX were going to be an issue in the military commission cases. I know XXXXXXXX brought this to the attention of XXXXXXXXXXXX.

One specific example was XXX. Once the Bureau provide DoD with the findings XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX they wanted to pursue expeditiously their methods to 'get more out of him' XXX. We were given a so called deadline to use our traditional methods. Once our timeline XXXXXXXXXXXX was up XXX took the reigns. We stepped out of the picture and XXX ran the operation XXXXXXXXXXX FBI did not participate at the direction of myself. XXXXXXXXX and BAU UCXXXXXXX. We would not recieve IRs on the results of the process".

It goes on to state:

"I voiced concerns that the intel produced was nothing more than what FBI got using simple investigative techniques ( following the trail of the detainee in and out of the US compared to the trail ofXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX was providing XXXXX portion of the briefing."

It ends with:

"After allowing XXXXXXXX to produce nothing, I finally voiced my opinion concerning the information. The conversations were somewhat heated. XXXXX agreed with me. XXXXX finally admitted the information was the same info the Bureau obtained. It still did not prevent them from continuing the XXXXXXXX methods'. DOJ was with me at GTMO XXXXXX during the time".

Iraq and Guantanamo are two different places, thousands of miles apart, yet it seems that the same permissive attitude towards control and discipline of detainees is quite evident. That can only stem from examples that were set, and the atmosphere that was created. And that could only come from the top. Mr Gonzales must not be allowed to become Attorney General.

And I would like to conclude with something I consider the most damning evidence of all, proof of the "ends justifies the means" attitude - in your own words Mr. Limbaugh:

"Why do so many critics jump to the defense of this depraved enemy we're fighting, whether by leaping to the conclusion the Marine in Fallujah "murdered" the enemy soldier who could have been pretending to sleep, or presuming that our government lawyers are anxious to condone the abuse of terrorist prisoners?

How about just once giving those in charge of managing our national security and those directly putting their lives on the line the benefit of the doubt?

Does this mean we assume our guys can do no wrong? Of course not. Does it mean we become barbaric like our enemy? Never. But it does mean that those of us out of harm's way ought to appreciate that we're in a brutal war against an unimaginably wicked enemy breaking every conceivable rule. So we need to cut our guys some slack".

Well Mr. Limbaugh, one small problem. Where we treat with our prisoners, we are in control. It's all happening under our watch. Are we al Qaeda now? Do we become our enemy, and justify it because we fight him? Then all we are doing is replacing one executioner with another, and the world will not be better off. "Torture Begins at the Top"

Human Rights First - Documents

A.C.L.U. FOIA Documents"


English Professor said...

You must hold the record on thorough, detailed posts!

Whazdat! said...

I try to find the goods. The A.C.L.U. site is veeery helpful!