Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Report: Blame White House for detainee abuse

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

A new Senate report says the physical and mental abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was the direct result of Bush administration policies and should not be blamed on guards and interrogators.

More here.

Even though the American power establishment seems to be either in deep denial about the issue or thoroughly unwilling to grasp the enormity of its significance, I've for some time now taken this for granted. That is, since Abu Ghraib, it's been fucking obvious that all this torture couldn't possibly be blamed on a few bad apples.

For starters, it's been too widespread. From Guantanamo Bay to Iraq to Afghanistan, we're supposed to believe that low-level soldiers, completely independently of one another, suddenly decided to go totally against both longstanding military regulations and international treaties, as well as deeply embedded strains of American culture, in order to torture their prisoners. For another thing, the kinds of torture used, in every single instance, were just too similar. Forced nudity and sexual mind games, attack dogs, "stress positions," waterboarding, and more have been systematically employed by all these isolated bad apples. And finally, the White House's legal offices have written countless briefs justifying torture--I think it was former Attorney General Gonzalez who dismissed the Geneva Conventions as "quaint." Why on earth would the President's people spend so much time and energy on a legal defense against torture accusations if they didn't expect it to be an issue in the future?

In this context, it is impossible to believe that the new American torture regime wasn't directed and coordinated from the very top. It now appears that the Senate, if not the rest of the power structure, is waking up to the obvious.

Quick reminder. Torture is horrifying and barbaric. It is anti-civilization. It is anti-morality. It is perhaps the worst thing one human being can do to another. And it has become official policy of the United States of America. If you aren't disgusted by that, you aren't much of an American. Or a human being, for that matter.