Monday, 18 January 2010

Sick-making

This is sick-making. If you read it all you can be in little doubt that three detainees were murdered whilst being tortured at Guantanamo. It's the sort of story that emerges from some barbaric little dictatorship rather than from the world's greatest democracy.

Bush and Cheney have done more to damage America's reputation than anyone since Kissinger's bombing of Cambodia. I love America: I still think it's the world's best - in some ways, only - guarantor of freedom. But I can't believe that this has been allowed to happen - and that people still support the corrupting policy of so-called 'enhanced interrogation'.


H/t Daily Dish.

20 comments:

Brit said...

Even for those of us pro-US and sympathetic to the WoT, Gitmo felt totally wrong from the start. I got fearful stick on a right-wing US blog for stating that Gitmo made me 'queasy'.

Lincoln Hunter said...

Not all Americans support it. I have posted two or three pieces on the subject.
More Americans might be against it if we had reporters who were unafraid to tell what they know or research what they suspect.
But then maybe not. Three weeks ago on 60 Minutes, Lara Logan, chief foreign correspondent for CBS, interviewed a former CIA operative named Henry Crumpton. Mr. Crumpton described how, just after 9/11 in Afghanistan, they would visit a tribal chief and try to persuade him to aid and assist the US. If he failed to agree, he was terminated. "And this", said Logan rhetorically, "meant the next tribal chief would agree?" Yes, said Crumpton. "Because he heard what happened to those who didn't?" "Yes, sometimes they even saw it happen."
Not a peep from Logan. No mention of it in the press the next day.
The CIA is a renegade form of Viet Cong in its tactics.
We have become like our enemy. We are our own enemy.

Sean said...

Yup warfare is a nasty business, Lets hope that if these guys are needed they get the job done. Its so easy to get distracted by the side issues.

dearieme said...

The Americans funded and supported the IRA for years. I feel that this should be said every time the business of the USA and Terrorism arises.

malty said...

I would recommend John Gray's Black Mass, frightening, deeply worrying, nightmarish, spot on.
One hundred copies should be inserted into Blairs left ear, sideways, with the aid of a sledge hammer.

Bush should be impaled on a rusty RPG.

Bunny Smedley said...

"The Americans" didn't support and fund the IRA, dearieme - a small minority of Americans did, rather as a small minority of people in the UK did. And yes, the distinction does matter.

Brit said...

And we (Britain and the US) are not as bad as our enemy, but that's irrelevant because we set ourselves higher standards.

Gaw said...

Brit: Perhaps 'queasy' has a different connotation over there, like 'fag'?

Lincoln: Welcome! That is a shocker, isn't it? Quite unbelievable it wasn't followed up.

Sean: Hearts and minds are not a side issue when battling terrorism and insurgency.

Dearieme and Bunny: I'm with Bunny on making the distinction. But it's nevertheless true that the US govt wasn't particularly helpful to the British in opposing Irish terrorism, particularly in relation to fund-raising and extradition of suspects.

Malty: I've got increasingly sceptical about Gray. It's his writings on economic history, in particular capitalism and China, I find particularly doubtful. It's made me wonder about the rest.

dearieme said...

".. the US govt wasn't particularly helpful to the British in opposing Irish terrorism, particularly in relation to fund-raising and extradition of suspects." Quite, Gaw, but I don't think that most Americans understand such understatement. Bluntly, the American government, or chunks of it, helped the IRA. That terrorism cost us more lives than 9/11 cost the USA.

Bunny Smedley said...

Bluntly, the American government, or chunks of it, helped the IRA. That terrorism cost us more lives than 9/11 cost the USA.

Indeed - it's a point I have frequently made myself, not just during the time when I ran the group Friends of the Union here, but also e.g. here, on the first anniversary of 9/11:

http://fugitiveink.wordpress.com/2002/09/11/stop-telling-bin-laden-he-won-he-won-he-didnt/

But it's an awfully long way from that, to saying that "the Americans", tout court, "supported and funded" the IRA. I can promise you that plenty of Americans hated terrorism long before 9/11, just as plenty of Americans hate the sort of appalling abuses to which Gareth refers in the original post. But don't let that get in the way of anyone's sloppy, actually downright offensive generalisations ...

Brit said...

Whatever the debate re Americans and the IRA, that was a different administration and a different time and it is pointless and nasty to bring it up in such a way, as if it should diminish our sympathy for US victims of terrorism.

But back to Gitmo, it has been totally counterproductive. Apart from anything else, the cages and those frigging orange boiler suits have given the anti-American lefties an instantly recognisable symbol of US moral failure.

Gaw said...

Brit: I agree symbolism is important. But for me this has transcended foreign wars and terrorism. I'm now simply scared as a citizen of what governments are allowing themselves to get up to under the panicky cover of the war on terror. Some horrible precedents have been laid down and we don't know yet their full and ongoing consequences.

BTW making a distinction between some Americans and all Americans feels particularly pertinent right now - I would hate for anyone to think I paint all Americans with the Bush-Cheney brush.

Hey Skipper said...

Apart from anything else, the cages and those frigging orange boiler suits have given the anti-American lefties an instantly recognisable symbol of US moral failure.

What is the alternative? Other, that is, than lipsticking a pig.

But it's an awfully long way from that, to saying that "the Americans", tout court, "supported and funded" the IRA.

Speaking as an American, I feel I'm on fairly safe ground in saying that nearly all Americans not from Massachusetts hated the IRA.

Just as the US's policy towards Cuba doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense to anyone living outside of Florida.

I would hate for anyone to think I paint all Americans with the Bush-Cheney brush.

Perhaps Bush-Cheney do not, in this case, necessarily deserved to be tarred with the Bush-Cheney brush.

Presuming it actually happened (and I am happy to grant that), I wouldn't be the least surprised to learn that the murders happened despite standing policy, and that the real problem is military accountability.

Gaw said...

Skip: The murders, just like Abu Ghraib, happened as a consequence of policy. In this instance - and as feared - the slippery slope cliché is apposite. Torture is uncontainable. The cover-up (of this and more) makes it all worse as more and more people are becoming complicit.

Hey Skipper said...

Skip: The murders, just like Abu Ghraib, happened as a consequence of policy.

Perhaps. But.

You might remember the US shootdown of its own Blackhawk helicopter during (IIRC) Northern Watch.

Of course that shootdown was the consequence of policy, but the cause was astonishing leadership failures, for which leaders were not held accountable.

Abu Ghraib was the same. Had the general (and subordinate commanders) exercised anything like appropriate leadership, the idiocies at AG would not have happened.

The murders cited here are completely outside US policy. Unless there is some direct chain of acquiescence -- I'll bet there isn't -- then responsibility lies with military commanders: it is they who should be tarred.

Gaw said...

What I'm getting at is that it's difficult enough to ensure that a few bad apple troops don't brutalise defenceless prisoners. So when brutalisation of defenceless prisoners (i.e. torture, aka enhanced interrogation) is part of policy this becomes a whole lot more difficult and can have proportionately more serious consequences.

Of course we don't have a counter-factual. But these murders fit a pattern which opponents of enhanced interrogation feared might emerge.

Hey Skipper said...

What I'm getting at is that it's difficult enough to ensure that a few bad apple troops don't brutalise defenceless prisoners.

Understood. But there is nothing unique about using coercion on prisoners that does not apply equally well to any other use of state sanctioned force.

I know of someone who (IMHO) committed two war crimes that would have been impossible absent state sanctioned force, while violating the sanction's terms.

That is why I am very reluctant to tar Bush & Cheney with this. Clearly, you would draw the coercion boundary differently than they did, but I don't think there is any evidence they sanctioned murdering prisoners.

However, I do think there is plenty of evidence that military leadership was seriously lacking in these cases; I don't want attention diverted from where it belongs.

Of course we don't have a counter-factual. But these murders fit a pattern which opponents of enhanced interrogation feared might emerge.

Wow, you are starting to sound like a consequentalist.

Gaw said...

The likely murderers seem to have been using torture techniques approved by the executive, which appear to have got out of hand. Consequentialist? Prudent, doubting, wary, conservative, not overly trusting in government, etc.

Hey Skipper said...

If you read it all you can be in little doubt that three detainees were murdered whilst being tortured at Guantanamo.

National Public Radio (which the Left considers fair and balanced) reported today that the Justice Department (that would be Obama's Justice Department) has taken a careful look at the allegations and found that the original investigation's conclusion -- suicide -- is in fact what happened.

From the report "... there is no evidence of wrongdoing."

I'm quoting from memory, which tells me there is an "absolutely" in front of "no", but of that I am not certain.

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