George W. Bush Putting Future American Soldiers at Risk with Torture Remarks

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This from Dan Froomkin at Huffington Post:

George W. Bush’s casual acknowledgment Wednesday that he had Khalid Sheikh Mohammed waterboarded — and would do it again — has horrified some former military and intelligence officials who argue that the former president doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of what he is admitting. Waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning, is “unequivocably torture”, said retired Brigadier General David R. Irvine, a former strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner of war interrogation and military law for 18 years. “As a nation, we have historically prosecuted it as such, going back to the time of the Spanish-American War,” Irvine said. “Moreover, it cannot be demonstrated that any use of waterboarding by U.S. personnel in recent years has saved a single American life.” Irvine told the Huffington Post that Bush seems not to understand how much harm his countenancing of torture has done to his country. [...]
James P. Cullen, a retired brigadier general in the United States Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps, told HuffPost that the net effect of Bush’s remarks — and former Vice President Cheney’s before him — is “to establish a precedent where it will be permissible to our enemies to use waterboarding on our servicemen in future wars.” … “This is not the last war we’re going to fight,” Cullen said. “Americans not yet born are going to be prisoners of war in those conflicts. And our enemies are going to be able to point back to President Bush and Vice President Cheney saying that waterboarding is OK. “It’s just shocking to me how he can be so flip about something that is so serious,” Cullen said.
Matthew Alexander, the pseudonymous former Air Force interrogator and author of “How To Break A Terrorist” e-mailed HuffPost that Bush’s statement “is de facto approval of the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of American soldiers in Iraq who were killed by foreign fighters that Al Qaida recruited based on the President’s policy of torture and abuse of detainees. “At least now we know where the blame for those soldiers’ deaths squarely belongs. President Bush’s decision broke with a military tradition dating back to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War and the consequences are clear: Al Qaida is stronger and our country is less safe.”

– Steve Clemons

Comments

13 comments on “George W. Bush Putting Future American Soldiers at Risk with Torture Remarks

  1. David says:

    We’re screwed because of the fickle popular mindset, which now apparently prefers that Guantanamo remain open and which I guess thought 24 was about reality.
    It is what voters will come out to the polls and support or not support that ultimately decides American policies. Lobbyists have a field day because of the superficiality of American political perceptions and the ease with which those perceptions can be manipulated through tv advertising.
    Where the possibility of a shift lies I do not know, but if BHO is as smart as there is every reason to think he is, the Gulf oil catastrophe opens up one opportunity. The brutality of the Israeli raid might open up another, were it not for Christian Zionists, many of whom are also environmentalists, but none of whom approve of anything but unconditional support for Israel, which they link to ancient Israel and KJV dicta.
    If you can, find a Christian Zionist friend who agrees with you on other things and let that person spell out for you why she or he supports Israel. I suspect there are more Christian Zionist voters than right wing Jewish voters in America. In Florida, the blindly pro-Israel Jewish voters and Christian Zionist voters together constitute such a powerful voting block that no state-wide Florida politician, and few district-specific Florida politicians, would dare do anything but endorse Israel’s right to board those ships and “defend itself,” and they must also hew to the myth that the flotilla brought it on itself and deserved what it got. There might be room to say they wished it hadn’t been quite so rough, but they must also say it was unavoidable because of flotilla intrasigence.
    The reason: voters.

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  2. Dirk says:

    “The Bush and Cheney administration set the precedent. The Obama administration confirmed the precedent by willfully not prosecuting.”
    All well and good and I like to think Obama would gladly prosecute, but know that that would be incredibly divisive and paralyzing.
    The UK investigated their previous administration, but recall that they were both of the same Labour party and that would likely not have happened if the previous administration were the Tories.
    In Argentina and Chile it took 30-40 some years to investigate and prosecute the crimes that took place back then.
    Recall also, sadly, that many Democratic members of Congress were actively complicit in the crimes committed in getting the US involved in Iraq and passing draconian domestic intelligence laws. For now we can only vote them out of office so they don’t commit new crimes.

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  3. Don Bacon says:

    Torture just doesn’t work. First, you can get better information by being smart and dealing with the suspect. Secondly, people being tortured make up stuff which they think the torturer wants to hear. That’s what I would do, how about you? Even if I didn’t know much of anything I’d fabricate a story, just to get them to stop the pain.

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  4. JohnH says:

    Part of the imperative for not using torture is to gain the moral high ground in the battle of values.
    Bush and his neocon allies never understand the importance of the moral high ground and neither does the Israel right of wrong crowd. Torturing people only alientates friends and antagonizes everyone else.

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  5. Don Bacon says:

    nadine: “too simple. . .terrorists into puppets who have no beliefs of their own, who can only react, never act.”
    Of course “terrorists,” as human beings, have beliefs of their own. They want to be left alone, without interference from foreign powers, for one thing. But now we have the US terrorist state, reacting simply to 9/11, conducting mass mayhem in countries against people who had nothing to do with 9/11, for power and profit. And these people react to that aggression and killing, of course they do.
    Considering that “terrorists”, state and otherwise, are somehow motivated to kill people that aren’t like them has some validity on both sides, unfortunately. But the answer is not more hatred and more killing, but more understanding.

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  6. John Waring says:

    The Bush and Cheney administration set the precedent. The Obama administration confirmed the precedent by willfully not prosecuting.
    Pretend you are Dante. Which one do you condemn to the lowest circles of hell, the adolescent, George W. Bush, or the constitutional law professor, Barack Obama?

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  7. nadine says:

    Your reality is too simple, Don Bacon. You make the terrorists into puppets who have no beliefs of their own, who can only react, never act. Terrorists act on their beliefs and calculate their chances just like anybody else.
    That which gets rewarded, gets repeated. I want obeying the laws of war to be rewarded more than not obeying them. You want the reverse, because your reality is too simple to be real.

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  8. Don Bacon says:

    nadine, your “terrorists” are people. Human beings. If you were the subject of US “shock and awe”, kidnapping, abuse and torture to you or someone close to you, you might be one. Can you grasp that simple reality?

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  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Terrorists obey no laws of war”
    Exactly. Thats why they think the can dump cluster bombs and white phosphorous on civiolian non-combatants, shoot peaceful protesters in the face with tear gas canisters, use fishermen and farmers as tareget practice, and hijack ships and passengers off the high seas.

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  10. nadine says:

    “to establish a precedent where it will be permissible to our enemies to use waterboarding on our servicemen in future wars.”
    Terrorists obey no laws of war. What happens today if one of our servicemen is captured by the Taliban or Al Qaeda? He becomes the subject of a snuff video. Reciprocity is the weakest of all arguments to use.

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  11. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag,
    I generally agree with you. To be fair, Alexander said torture and abuse, even though the subject is torture alone. So yes — reckless language.
    Regarding abuse, it was widespread policy in the early days of the occupation for the US military to conduct midnight raids on Iraq homes in certain neighborhoods, kick in the doors, zip-tie the MAMs (military age males), throw them into the back of a hummer and then transport them to a makeshift prison, often out in the elements, with poor food and abusive treatment, and sometimes torture, where they would be imprisoned without contact or any due process. These illegal procedures undoubtedly contributed to the extensive Iraqi resistance in that unfortunate “liberated” country, where over four thousand (now 4402) US military have died and in fact are still being killed. Obviously the CINC is responsible.
    In the sentence you quote, foreign fighters that Al Qaida recruited — nah. They weren’t foreign, they were Iraqi, and they (most) were not recruited by AQ. Many of them were in fact Shi’ah.
    The main instigation for Iraqi resistance was probably not torture but general abuse.

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  12. Don Bacon says:

    Lynndie England served 521 days in the brig for one count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent act.
    George W. Bush ordered waterboarding (torture) then brags about it and goes free.
    Two pitiful characters in the saga of US inhuman rights.
    The new National Security Strategy prohibits torture.
    “Prohibit Torture without Exception or Equivocation: Brutal methods of interrogation are inconsistent with our values, undermine the rule of law, and are not effective means of obtaining information. They alienate the United States from the world. They serve as a recruitment and propaganda tool for terrorists. They increase the will of our enemies to fight against us, and endanger our troops when they are captured. The United States will not use or support these methods.”
    Matthew Alexander wrote in a NYT Op-Ed (January 20, 2010) entitled “Torture’s Loopholes” that while torture is now prohibited inhumane treatment is not.
    “Americans can now boast that they no longer ‘torture’ detainees, but they cannot say that detainees are not abused, or even that their treatment meets the minimum standards of humane treatment mandated by the Geneva Conventions, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (the so-called McCain amendment), United States and international law, or even Mr. Obama

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  13. WigWag says:

    Waterboarding is wrong and it is torture. It should have no place in the arsenal of techniques used for interrogating prisoners. And it’s use does but American service people at risk for similar misbehavior. I am inclined to think that any American who uses this technique or orders that it be used, be subject to prosecution.
    But this statement is so over the top that it trivializes a serious discussion,
    “Matthew Alexander, the pseudonymous former Air Force interrogator and author of “How To Break A Terrorist” e-mailed HuffPost that Bush’s statement “is de facto approval of the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of American soldiers in Iraq who were killed by foreign fighters that Al Qaida recruited based on the President’s policy of torture and abuse of detainees.”
    The remark by the “interrogator” or whomever he actually is is unsupportable. If he has evidence that thousands of Americans were killed by Al Qaeda in Iraq who joined up because they objected to the Bush torture policy he should present it.
    Otherwise its little more than brainless claptrap.

    Reply

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