Sunday, September 28, 2008

McCain falsely blamed troops for torture during debate

During the first debate with Barack Obama, John McCain said this would solve the torture problem:
So we have a long way to go in our intelligence services. We have to do a better job in human intelligence. And we've got to -- to make sure that we have people who are trained interrogators so that we don't ever torture a prisoner ever again.

Wow. So the problem is ignorant interrogators, not the people in the White House who gave the orders?

Didn't CIA interrogators refuse to use the methods they were ordered to use until they got the legal cover from the torture memos, written under the guidance of then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales who went on to become attorney general?

The resulting memo defined torture as only "death, organ failure or the permanent impairment of a significant body function."

The few soldiers prosecuted at Abu Ghraib weren't trained in interrogation techniques, but they were following orders from the interrogators at the prison who told them to "soften the prisoners up" for them, and the methods they used were remarkably similar to a then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's torture memo said to be posted publicly at Abu Ghraib by prison commander Gen. Jane Karpinski.

Recently, it was discovered that the White House principals actually met to micromanage torture methods like sleep deprivation and waterboarding, and incredibly, Bush said he knew and approved, according to ABC News.

The Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Contrary to the Bush administration spin on this, the military is hardly ignorant on torture nor do they approve of it apart from Bush's handpicked generals.

The abuse at Abu Ghraib was first reported by an Army MP, Joseph Darby.

When Navy lawyers at the Pentagon, who work for JAG became aware of the torture policy, they contacted the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on International Human Rights and urged them to publicly and strenuously oppose it.

In November of 2006, then dean of West Point, US Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, flew to Southern California to ask the producers of the TV show 24 to stop glorifying torture since it was influencing the thinking of cadets more than the training they were getting at West Point.

Perhaps most daming evidence against the "blame the troops" position on torture is the Army's own interrogation manual. In addition to describing as torture virtually every technique approved by the Bush administration, it gives this simple test of whether something is torture:
If your contemplated actions were perpetrated by the enemy against US PWs [prisoners of war], you would believe such actions violate international or US law.

FM 34-52
Jesus said it more simply, "Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you" (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31).

All the Christians who have supported Bush have forgotten that in their lynch mob blood lust.

To his credit, John McCain bucked the Bush administration on torture for a while and even wrote a moving op-ed on why it was a bad idea.
Our commitment to basic humanitarian values affects--in part--the willingness of other nations to do the same. Mistreatment of enemy prisoners endangers our own troops who might someday be held captive. While some enemies, and Al Qaeda surely, will never be bound by the principle of reciprocity, we should have concern for those Americans captured by more traditional enemies, if not in this war then in the next.

(John McCain, Newsweek Nov. 21, 2005)
Unfortunately, McCain gave up this moral and pragmatic position to gain the support of the Bush administration and voted to give Bush the discretion to use torture.

After being involved in the torture debate since it broke out in 2004, McCain knows this is not an issue of poorly trained soldiers but of elected civilian leaders and their appointees who put their own personal agendas ahead of our military's traditional ethics, our laws, and the Geneva Convention, which we helped write. They put their own agendas and personal gains ahead of the safety of our troops with their torture policy, as McCain's own earlier words testify to.

Instead of defending the troops, McCain is siding with the worst president in our history and blaming them for the conduct of the White House, which has used the troops as human shields to deflect responsibility for their own war crimes.

That is beneath contempt.

At a future debate, I want McCain to be asked who bears primary responsibility for the torture that has occurred: the troops in the field or the civilians who gave the orders.


Declassified torture memos

NY Times guide to torture memos

Geneva Convention against torture

Overview of Abu Ghraib abuse: 60% or more innocent

The most famous torture victim's story

Detaining, abusing, & raping children

VIDEO: Torture Memo Author Asked if President Can Bury Someone Alive

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I noticed it right away! It had been clear for several years that the White House written several memos or guidelines on what can be done to suspected prisoners. It defintively went against the Geneva Convention. While McCain initially was against it since he faced the same in Vietnam, he had to succumb to the pressures of the party establishment to "get along" if he was to be the nominee in 2008.