Posted by Mike
Just in case you missed it, an article in the New York Times today reports that a federal prosecutor will not bring charges against any of the CIA officers who were involved in the destruction of video tapes showing the interrogation of Al Qaeda detainees. Nor will the former head of the agency’s clandestine branch be indicted. The tapes reportedly documented interrogation procedures which would clearly be defined as torture by the Geneva Convention. Jose Rodriguez, the agency’s former head, told federal investigators that the destruction of the tapes was authorized by CIA lawyers. Interestingly, although there have been reports over the years which clearly involved lawyers in the Attorney General’s office in making the legal decisions that authorized what many people would call torture, justified because the prisoners involved were considered terrorists rather than enemy combatants who would be protected under the Geneva Conventions, individuals higher up in the Bush administration have been quiet regarding their involvement in the decision-making that led to what some clearly see as torture of detainees. The article in the NYT reports that George W. Bush, in his recently-published memoir, says “that he personally authorized the CIA to use the techniques after obtaining approval from his lawyers that the interrogation program would be lawful.”
It seems like if your lawyers say it’s legal, then it’s legal, even though we are parties to longstanding international agreements outlawing the use of torture on enemy soldiers who have been captured. It seems to me that it doesn’t take a lawyer to see that what we have done in torturing those captured in the fight against Al Qaeda is wrong. I’m thinking that the federal prosecutors have been going after the wrong persons. Clearly the responsibility lies ultimately with George W. Bush. Does he really think that he can disavow responsibility by saying that his lawyers approved it? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. We will never know the whole story, but I can picture Mr. Cheney and the President telling the Attorney General to find a way to justify the techniques that were either being used or going to be used. If you want to read more about this, see Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values, by Philippe Sands.
It doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows – Bob Dylan