Thursday, May 14, 2009

BushCo's White Whale

From the Daily Beast:
*Two U.S. intelligence officers confirm that Vice President Cheney’s office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner, a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.

*The former chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, in charge of interrogations, tells The Daily Beast that he considered the request reprehensible.

*Much of the information in the report of the 9/11 Commission was provided through more than 30 sessions of torture of detainees.
At the end of April 2003, not long after the fall of Baghdad, U.S. forces captured an Iraqi who Bush White House officials suspected might provide information of a relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime. Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi was the head of the M-14 section of Mukhabarat, one of Saddam’s secret police organizations. His responsibilities included chemical weapons and contacts with terrorist groups.
If I remember my secret OLC memos, those techniques were only authorized for members of al Qaida and the Taliban. And using the harsh techniques on an Iraqi POW would be a violation of both the Geneva Convention (which applied in the Iraq theater) and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (cruel, inhumane or degrading, even if they argue waterboarding isn't torture).

The deeper we go down the torture rabbit hole, the clearer it seems that the torture regime was built, not around any ticking time bomb scenario, but around the Bush administration trying to establish a link between al Qaeda and Iraq, both before and after the invasion.

In today's Washington Note, Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to of Secretary of State Colin Powell:
Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.

So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney's office that their detainee "was compliant" (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa'ida-Baghdad contacts yet.
As dday over at Hullabaloo, puts it,
Over and over again, we have seen Iraq as the white whale to the Bush Administration, as their sole focus through much of the first term appeared to be laying down the basis for invasion and occupation. Everything flows from this original sin.
Formal charges may flow as well. Obama may not be able to stop an investigation now.

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