Belaboring the Obvious

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oh, yeah, one more thing about Yoo's...

... current round of whining (and Cheney's, too). They've been trying to push the meme that getting information on new attacks was crucial--and central to their decision to engage in torture. (Even though they're still holding onto that silly construction "enhanced interrogation techniques," which sounded better in the original German, "verschärfte Vernehmung" ).

We know for certain that hours after the attacks of 9/11, they were trying to link the attacks to Iraq, even though there was no evidence to that end, whatsoever. We know that the torture began well before the administration said it had been initiated, and much more widely than they were willing to admit, but likely after the decision to pin the attacks on Iraq.

From the evidence, it seems much more likely that torture was implemented to obtain false confessions from detainees which confirmed the fantasies being concocted in Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans. The two principal lies were that al-Qaeda and Iraq were in cahoots, that Iraq had provided special training in chemical and biological weapons to al-Qaeda, and second, that Iraq had or was actively pursuing weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons (Kindasleeza Rice's "smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud").

Neither of those claims were true. And yet, the administration knew that the claims had mostly come from a single source--the infamous and aptly monikered "Curveball"--and that German intelligence, in particular, had issued a burn notice on the fabricator, saying that the source was thoroughly unreliable. All the pertinent parties in the U.S. government--Tenet at CIA, the Office of Special Plans, the DoD and the White House--knew that they could not make a case for war on that evidence alone, if Congress applied any scrutiny at all.

So, torture began in earnest, not to determine if there were new imminent attacks, but to obtain false confessions which substantiated the lies that were the centerpieces of their casus belli against Iraq. The simple, obvious proof of that is that virtually everything Colin Powell brought to his Feb. 5, 2003, appeal to the UN Security Council was based upon confessions extracted through torture.

After the invasion of Iraq, techniques used at Bagram, various black sites and Guantanamo were transplanted to Abu Ghraib. Why? Because they weren't finding weapons of mass destruction, and they needed false confessions about those imaginary weapons, principally, and about Hussein's associations with al-Qaeda.

The Bush administration propensity to torture was never about keeping the country safe, but, rather, about using any method necessary to prop up the lies it told to justify an aggressive war, a war which Justice Robert Jackson said was "essentially an evil initiate a war of not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

When any of the Bushies start whining that they were only concerned about keeping the country safe, it would be well to treat that claim with a good deal of skepticism, because their war crimes weren't limited to a few cases of waterboarding....


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