McFarlane, Woolsey, Inman Support McCain and Declare Opposition to Use of Torture

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An interesting set of headliners — including former National Security Adviser to Ronald Reagan Robert “Bud” McFarlane, former NSA Director and Bush family pal Bobby Inman, and Committee on the Present Danger Co-Chairman R. James Woolsey — co-signed a statement strongly opposed to torture as a tool of detainee interrogations and in support of Senator John McCain‘s position, with whom I agree on this issue.
I do not know what, if anything, McCain has done with the statement — and have not seen it noted anywhere as of yet, but the statement is important both for its substance and its signatories — some of whom I am occasionally at odds with.
But I commend all of the signers for agreeing to affix their names to a statement solidly, unambiguously against torture.

Letter in Support of John McCain’s opposition to use of torture in any form, December 2007
Whether in war or peace, there is no place in civilized discourse among nations for torture. The reasons for this should be obvious to experienced leaders:

— For any nation to use torture invites equivalent treatment of its soldiers by all other nations;
— Torture seldom produces reliable information;
— The use of torture takes a nation from the moral high ground to the depths of inhuman depravity.

Moral authority is more than a metaphysical abstraction. It is fundamental to garnering respect among nations and any aspiration to lead them.
If a nation expects others to follow, allies must find it worthy of respect — especially in the humane treatment of prisoners and adherence to the laws of war including the Geneva Convention.
In the years ahead as we wage the global struggle against radical Islam we must have the moral authority to rally others.
We, the undersigned, declare our abhorrence of the use of torture and stand with Senator John McCain in his principled position on this issue.
Honorable Robert McFarlane, LtCol. USMC (ret); former National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan
Hon. R. James Woolsey, Former Director of Central Intelligence (DCI); Under Secretary of the Navy
Admiral Bobby Inman, Former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence; Director, National Security Agency
General P. X. Kelley, USMC (ret); Former Commandant of the Marine Corps
Honorable Orson Swindle III, LtCol USMC (ret); Former Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission; POW 6 years in Vietnam Prison
Honorable Everett Alvarez, Commander USN (ret); longest held POW in North Vietnam (8.5 years)
Rear Admiral Robert Shumaker, USN (ret); second longest held POW in North Vietnam (8.0 years)
Major General John Fugh, USA JAG (ret)
Brigadier General David Brahms, USMC JAG (ret)

I had a note from a friend at Sandia National Weapons Laboratories this morning who referred to my suggestion that the “Guantanamo Detainee” be made TIME‘s person of the year as a “dumbass idea”. He asked if I remembered the victims of 9/11.
Of course I remember the victims — but I also know that the suspension of habeas corpus for any one held by the state — no matter how monstrous — makes the rest of the nation’s citizens victims as well. I know that torturing detainees will harm for decades America’s place as the beacon on the hill.
I’m not empathetic with torture victims. I’ve never had that sort of experience. John McCain may be. I’m not sure.
My objection to torturing even the most evil of human beings behind 9/11 is that this practice will divide America within. It will divide America from its allies and motivate its enemies. It has already been ferociously divisive even within the White House itself.
Thus, I stand by my nomination of the Guantanamo Detainee — because how we determine the fate of those held there and what we do with that facility will signal to the world what kind of nation we decide to be.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

20 comments on “McFarlane, Woolsey, Inman Support McCain and Declare Opposition to Use of Torture

  1. arthurdecco says:

    “I had a note from a friend at Sandia National Weapons Laboratories this morning who referred to my suggestion that the “Guantanamo Detainee” be made TIME’s person of the year as a “dumbass idea”. He asked if I remembered the victims of 9/11.” posted by Steve Clemons
    Did you ask your friend for his rational explanation for what happened to WTC#7 on 911 – about how the Afghan and Pakistani peasants who never left their homes until kidnapped by your uniformed thugs managed to collapse a building a half world away without cause?
    My gawd, I hope your friend is the janitor at the Sandia National Weapons Laboratories and not a policy maker. (Though as a policy maker he may be able to explain what kind of hypothetical weapons could have been used to drop New York’s CIA headquarters into its own footprint without causing an uproar among the chattering classes.)

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  2. tatere says:

    He asked if I remembered the victims of 9/11.
    Does this guy realize that we are killing civilians – just like “the victims of 9/11” – EVERY SINGLE DAY in Iraq and Afghanistan? If one single attack – a heinous and tragic one, but still just the one – is enough justification in his mind to throw out all rules and codes of conduct, and to mercilessly attack and torture anyone who even LOOKS like the attackers – then what on Earth does he think is going through the minds of the Iraqis? No wonder conservatives act like they’re terrified all the time – they’re imagining lunatics like themselves on the other side. Sadly, they’re probably right about that, too.

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  3. Kathleen says:

    erichwwk….thank you for that…

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  4. Kathleen says:

    The first US Woman casualty of the Iraq War was a young Hopi woman who reportedly committed suicide because she could not handle what she had been asked to do as a translator for US Army Interrogators at Abu Ghraib. But maybe her death was more like Pat Tillman’s. Who knows.
    Scruples are so passe these days.

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  5. Ben Bartlett says:

    Well, heck, I was going to suggest nominating the Burma monks, or maybe Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, but I think you’ve sold me on the Guantanamo detainees.

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  6. Ben Bartlett says:

    Well, heck, I was going to suggest nominating the Burma monks, or maybe Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, but I think you’ve sold me on the Guantanamo detainees.

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  7. karenk says:

    There’s right and there’s wrong. Torture of anyone is inhumane and wrong. Hard to believe anyone can defend this practice.
    I’ve always believed that it would have been far more psychologically satisfying for Americans to see KSM and Ramzi bin al Shibh, the masterminds of 9/11, up on trial.

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  8. Bill Camarda says:

    In 2004, after the exposure of Abu Ghraib, America faced the choice of deciding what kind of country it intended to be. It did. This choice has already been made. Now it must be unmade, and we must begin to clean up the enormous damage we have done. But don’t fool yourself: the whole world knows that we have already made our choice — and it is acting accordingly.

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  9. erichwwk says:

    Steve:
    Your friend at Sandia NL might consider spending less time in a hate culture, and more time in a kindness culture.
    Torture is not about RECEIVING information. It is about TRANSMITTING information. It is all about the shock and awe culture as described so well by Naomi Klein, to monopolize power by strength.
    “Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure… Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct.” — From pamphlets written by the “White Rose” student resistance group at the University of Munich, 1942.
    “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” —Mohatma Gandhi

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  10. Kathleen says:

    flummox…. indeeeeed.

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  11. flummox says:

    “My objection to torturing even the most evil of human beings behind 9/11 is that this practice will divide America within. It will divide America from its allies and motivate its enemies.”
    My objection is merely personal. I will not wager, barter, or willingly suspend my humanity for any person or collection of people in service to such behavior or ideas. It’s that simple. Finding the judgment seat of one’s personal conscience is a personal journey, but it is these types of personal journey’s that collectively have the potential to change political wills and realities.

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  12. Kathleen says:

    I have one question for our “christian” candidates.
    WWJD?

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  13. Carroll says:

    FBI agent threatened to arrest CIA interrogators in 2002.
    Last week, the CIA revealed that it had destroyed videotapes of interrogations of two al Qaeda detainees, including logistics chief Abu Zubaydah. Newsweek reports today that methods used in the interrogation of Zubaydah “sparked an internal battle within the U.S. intelligence community” to such an extent that one FBI agent “threatened to arrest the CIA interrogators“:
    The videotapes, made in 2002, showed the questioning of two high-level Qaeda detainees, including logistics chief Abu Zubaydah, whose interrogation at a secret cell in Thailand sparked an internal battle within the U.S. intelligence community after FBI agents angrily protested the aggressive methods that were used. In addition to waterboarding, Zubaydah was subjected to sleep deprivation and bombarded with blaring rock music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. One agent was so offended he threatened to arrest the CIA interrogators, according to two former government officials directly familiar with the dispute.
    *BTW…House passes waterboarding bill.
    Here are your politicans yay and nay votes.
    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll1160.xml

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  14. jnickens says:

    You might ask your friend what exactly the prisoners in Guantanamo have to do with 9/11? If there is evidence that any of them are involved they should be standing trial instead of having to endure inhumane treatment at our government’s hands. Innocent men are being psychologically destroyed, and appeals to the memories of the 9/11 victims do not justify that.

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  15. Carroll says:

    Former US interrogator recounts torture cases in Afghanistan and Iraq
    El Mundo (Internet Version-WWW)
    Monday, December 10, 2007 . . .
    Document Type: OSC Translated Text . . .
    Former US interrogator recounts torture cases in Afghanistan and Iraq
    Discharged US army private Damien Corsetti has described the “morally unacceptable” cases of physical and psychological torture he says he witnessed as an interrogator at the prisons of Bagram in Afghanistan and Abu-Ghurayb in Iraq. Speaking in an interview with a Spanish paper, he said the vast majority of the individuals he questioned in the course of his duties “had nothing to do with either the Taleban or Al-Qa’idah” and that while he never took part in acts of abuse, many were tortured “to make them suffer, not to get information out of them”. The following is the text of the report on the interview with Corsetti published by the Spanish popular liberal newspaper El Mundo website on 10 December; subheading as published:
    Fairfax (Virginia): Damien Corsetti looks at me with his small eyes and says: “Look, they leave us alone in this room, they give me a roll of duct tape to tie you to the chair, I turn off the light and in five hours you sign a piece of paper for me saying that you’re Usamah Bin-Ladin”.
    It is a Thursday night. Damien Corsetti – who, according to The New York Times was nicknamed “The King of Torture” and “The Monster” by his colleagues at Bagram prison, in Afghanistan – is sitting down having a glass of wine in a French restaurant in Fairfax, on the outskirts of Washington. Four days ago, this US private arrived on the outskirts of Washington from North Carolina, where he had been living since September 2006, when he was discharged from the army following a trial in which he was found not guilty of the charges of dereliction of duty, maltreatment, assault and performing indecent acts with prisoners at Bagram.
    Now, Corsetti – who was also under investigation in the Abu-Ghurayb torture case – only wants to put his life “in order”. It is a difficult task. Because first he will have to forget the torture to which he says he was a witness in Afghanistan of prisoners such as Al-Qa’idah leader Omar al-Faruq. “The cries, the smells, the sounds are with me. They are things that stay with you forever”, he recalls.
    Corsetti arrived in Afghanistan on 29 July 2002. He was a military intelligence soldier, not an interrogator. “But the army needed reliable interrogators, because most interrogators do not meet security requirements. They are not reliable. So we arrived there”. A five-hour course in Afghanistan and, at 22, Corsetti began trying to extract information from the prisoners in the jail – prisoners who, in his opinion, “in 98 per cent of cases had nothing to do with either the Taleban or Al-Qa’idah”.
    That is how Corsetti found himself interrogating prisoners at the jail. Many of them were people who had nothing to do with (George W.) Bush’s war on terror, like his first prisoner, whose name he still remembers: Khan Zara. “He was a peasant and grew opium. But he was there three months until he told us. Do you know how I found out. Because of his hands. His hands were full of calluses. Those are not the hands of a terrorist”.
    Other prisoners include a farmer who had put mines on his land to kill his neighbour, with who he had a long-standing family dispute, and an Afghan who had bombs in his house to fish in the river. They were people like Dilawar, a taxi driver detained in 2002 who had nothing to do with the Taleban and who died after four days of beatings from US soldiers.
    Because Bagram is a very tough prison. “Each prisoner has in his cell a carpet measuring 1.2 m by 2.5 m. And they spend 23 hours a day sat on it, in silence. If they speak, they are chained to the ceiling for 20 minutes and black visors are put on them so they can’t see and protectors are put on their ears so they can’t hear. They are taken down to the basement once a week, in groups of five or six, to shower them. It’s done to drive them crazy. I almost went crazy”, recalls Corsetti. Apart from those normal cells, in the basement of the prison there are six isolation cells, plus two rooms for who the former soldier describes as “special guests”.
    But Bagram has an underworld in which the CIA tortures the leaders of Al-Qa’idah. “One day I went to an interrogation session and as soon as I arrived I knew that it was not a normal case. There were civilians, among them a doctor and a psychiatrist. The prisoner was called Omar al-Faruq, an Al-Qa’idah leader in Asia who had been brought to the prison by one of those agencies”, recalls Corsetti. “I don’t want to go into details because it could be very negative for my country, but he was brutally beaten – daily. And tortured by other methods. He was a bad man, but he didn’t deserve that”. Al-Faruq escaped from Bagram in action which, according to some, was tolerated by the USA and was killed in April 2006 by the British in the Iraqi city of Basra.
    Corsetti says that he never took part in the torture. “My sole job was to sit there and make sure the prisoner didn’t die. But there were several times when I thought they were about to die, when they were interrogated by those people who have no name and who work for no-one in particular. It’s incredible what a human being can take”. A resistance similar to that of the memory of those torture sessions. Because Corsetti, a veteran of two wars, says: “I have seen people die in combat. I shot at people. That is not as bad as seeing someone tortured. Al-Faruq looked at me while they tortured him and I have that look in my head. And the cries, the smells, the sounds, they are with me all the time. It is something I can’t take in. The cries of the prisoners calling for their relatives, their mother. I remember one who called for God, for Allah, all the time. I have those cries here, inside my head”.
    “In Abu-Ghurayb and Bagram they were tortured to make them suffer, not to get information out of them”. And the fact is that at times the torture had no other goal that “to punish them for being terrorists. They tortured them and didn’t ask them anything”. That is the case of the practice known as “the submarine”: to simulate the drowning of the prisoner. “They have them hooded and they pour water on them. That makes it very difficult to breath. I think you can’t die with the submarine. I certainly never saw anyone die. However, they do cough like crazy because they are totally submerged in water and that gets on their lungs. Perhaps what it can give you is serious pneumonia”. The civilians who took part in the interrogations used the submarine whenever they wanted. They gave it to them for five or 10 minutes and didn’t ask anything”.
    Other torture included using extreme cold and heat. “I remember one of my prisoners trembling with cold. His teeth wouldn’t stop chattering. I put a blanket on him and then another, and another, and his teeth never stopped chattering, never stopped. You could see that man was going to die of hypothermia. But the doctors are there so that they don’t die, so as to be able to torture them one more day”. At other times, “they put them under blinding lights that worked mechanically, giving out flashes”.
    “They are going to kill your children”
    An important subject was that of psychological torture, administered by psychiatrists. “They tell them they are going to kill their children, rape their wives. And you see on their faces, in their eyes, the terror that that causes them. Because, of course, we know all about those people. We know the names of their children, where they live – we show them satellite photos of their houses. It is worse than any torture. That is not morally acceptable under any circumstances. Not even with the worst terrorist in the world”, says Corsetti, before adding: “Sometimes, we put one of our women (female US military personnel) in burqas and we made them walk through the interrogation rooms and we told them: ‘That is your wife’. And the prisoner believed it. Why wouldn’t they! We had those people going without sleep for a whole week. After two or three days with no sleep, you believe anything. In fact, it was a problem. The interpreters couldn’t understand what they were saying. The prisoners were having hallucinations. Because, of course, this is not like if you or me go three days without sleep when we’re partying. I’ve gone five days without sleep when I’ve been partying. But this is different. You’re in a cell where they let you sleep only a quarter of an hour every now and then. With no contact with the outside world. Without seeing sunlight. Like that, a days seems like a week. Your mental capacity is destroyed”.
    In the opinion of Corsetti, the only thing his experience as an interrogator taught him “is that torture doesn’t work. One thing is losing your temper and punching a prisoner, another is to commit these acts of brutality. In Bagram we managed to find out about an Al-Qa’idah plan to blow up dozens of oil tankers across the world. We smashed the plot so well that they only managed to attack one, the French oil tanker Limburgh, in Yemen in October 2002. And we managed to get a guy to tell us without laying a finger on him”.
    (Description of Source: Madrid El Mundo (Internet Version-WWW) in Spanish — independent national daily) ‘

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  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its interesting that the use of torture is defended by declaring that “Well, after all, they are terrorists”. Never mind that the individuals have been given no legal avenue to contest to defend themselves against such labeling in the first place. We simply declare them to be something they may or may not be, thenm we go to work on ’em. Steve’s friend at Sandia is a jackass, and apparently has very little understanding about why our justice system and Constitution were once held in high esteem. No more will it be so. Like so muuch Bush has touched, that esteem has turned to loathing.

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  17. Carroll says:

    “I had a note from a friend at Sandia National Weapons Laboratories this morning who referred to my suggestion that the “Guantanamo Detainee” be made TIME’s person of the year as a “dumbass idea”. He asked if I remembered the victims of 9/11.”
    Mail him back and tell him you heard from OBL asking if anyone remembered the victims in Palestine and Abu Ghraib and Lebanon and Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
    Then tell him to get his head out of his a…He’s nothing but an accident of birth and a grain of sand in the great universal scheme of things.

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  18. DonS says:

    Many who pontificate “9/11 changed everything” have been horrifyingly echoed by the headlong rush within the Administration, Congress, and the courts to some extent, to accommodate the political forces that would translate 9/11 into a cause for abandoning or at least seriously weakening fundamental and crucial aspects of the American system.
    Habeas is at the top of the list.
    That so many of our politicians have found it so simple to abandon fundamental tenets of the democracy — shall we say to feed the noisiest elements and basest instincts of the howling mob, at the very least — has been an ugly and shallow demonstration. Those who have actual conviction that its the correct direction are beyond shame.
    That we are even quibbling over torture should be an embarrassment to everyone who vaguely comprehends the notion of decency, not even reaching the hard facts as to its futility.
    My $.02.

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  19. jamzo says:

    you applaud them for making a nuanced political statement for john mc cain
    i would applaud them if their statement stated their opposition to the administration’s use of torture

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  20. Frank says:

    One reason why the tapes were destroyed is that nothing of significant actionable intelligence was revealed by the one being tortured. If it were productive, would not the torturers show and brag about its efficacy? Revealing those tapes would drain the swamp that floats Bush’s boat.

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