Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Bubble and Torture

"The Bubble" drifted around Latin America yesterday, and George W. Bush has denied condoning torture, AP:

PANAMA CITY, Panama Nov 7, 2005 — President Bush on Monday vigorously defended U.S. attempts to interrogate suspected terrorists after the public disclosure of secret CIA prisoner camps in eastern European countries. "We do not torture," he declared.

This presidency is not at its strongest right now, and this issue has the potential to get really nasty. John McCain and the U.S. Senate may force Bush's hands on interrogation restrictions. Additionally, Bush's stance does not fit with reality.

At least not with the reality that any reasonable person who examines the facts would find.

Spc. Tony Lagouranis recently told PBS' Frontline:

In Mosul, again, I remember the chief warrant officer in charge of the interrogation facility. He'd heard about how the SEALs had set up a "discotheque" with loud music and strobe lights in order to disorient the prisoner, and he heard about the ice water. We didn't use the ice water; he felt that was too dangerous, somebody might die.

But it was cold, so we were keeping them hovering around hypothermia in this environment of what they call "environmental manipulation" with the music and strobe lights. And then we would bring in military working dogs and use those on the prisoners. Even though it was controlled; like the dogs were muzzled, they were being held by a handler. But the prisoner didn't know that because he was blindfolded.

This week in the New Yorker we see the uncertain fate of a contractor who killed an Iraqi prisoner:

His head had been covered with a plastic bag, and he was shackled in a crucifixion-like pose that inhibited his ability to breathe; according to forensic pathologists who have examined the case, he asphyxiated. In a subsequent internal investigation, United States government authorities classified Jamadi’s death as a “homicide,” meaning that it resulted from unnatural causes. Swanner has not been charged with a crime and continues to work for the agency.

Last week in Newsweek, Captain Ian Fishback's influence was detailed:

Fishback's courage in taking a lonely stand may be paying off. Inspired by his example, "a growing critical mass of soldiers is coming forward with allegations of abuse," says Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch, the New York-based activist group that first revealed Fishback's story

Yesterday's Washington Post ran a story about Dick Cheney's fondness for abusing prisoners, while others in the administration try and end the practice:

Cheney's camp is a "shrinking island," said one State Department official who, like other administration officials quoted in this article, asked not to be identified because public dissent is strongly discouraged by the White House.

I do not mean to suggest that this issue should ever be degraded to one of Democrat versus Republican. That is not even necessary nor is it appropriate. McCain is right to chastise the administration for allowing this to happen. It must be stopped now, and the higher ranking officials responsible must be brought to justice just like those that actually conduct this terrible offense.

After the debocale in response to Katrina, I have a hard time trusting how aware this president is about what transpires around him. Either I am correct in assuming that the president is in a "bubble" on this issue, or he is with Cheney on the torture island.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hey Copy Editor- this is a REAL news story. Stop being so depressing!!!!1111

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Moose said...

Fine, blogger, cut off my link

1:41 PM  
Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Bush can make all the declarations he wants. How is he going to enforce policy on a small isolated unit which is ran by contractors that is located in the foothills of a little known nation called Eritrea, which now holds around 70 suspected al-Qaeda prisoners?

Oops, you didn't hear that from me. Thank God for not having to use real names.

1:51 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

I know it is a tough order to get the interrogations inline.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

I personally would not consider some of the examples you gave torture - they are incredible psychological ploys, but are meant to extract information without any real long-term (physical) harm.

3:27 PM  
Blogger zen said...

does it even matter to anyone that the 'information' extracted under torture is not reliable?

3:33 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Zen, great point. Haven't heard from you in a while.

Ezzie, welcome over to the Tree Hugging Dark Side ('s site -- i jest). I think inflicting mental harm is as scaring as anything physical. It's a nice gray area for our people to operate in... barney music and near hypothermia.

I wonder how well and adjusted any of our tortured detainees will be if they ever get out into society?

3:49 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

To be honest, if they are known to be terrorists, I don't care much how they function in society later on - or even if they do. By trying to kill innocent civilians (especially those who try to carry out suicide bombings) they have forfeited their civil rights.

Before condemning that view: If someone is about to shoot you, do you think it is permissible to shoot them first? If so, why is it that you think they do not deserve to live? I would venture that you feel they have forfeited that right by trying to kill you.

10:39 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

ezzie, I agree with a lot of what you have to say. But a person suspected as being a terrorist should not be subjected to the same punishment as one who is a terrorist.

If we torture en masse, we will end up torturing some innocents. They will no doubt spread trouble after that. It's just wrong.

9:55 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home