Friday, November 18, 2005


US military all but concedes that Guantanamo torture accusations are true

I realize that for many, torture at Guantanamo is old news. But it's important to watch the twists and wriggles, because this is where the proof of deliberate, pre-meditated crimes of war will come. I still remember the day, almost four years ago, when I learned from Amnesty International that Guantanamo inmates were being held in pens too small to stand up or sleep properly, exposed to the blazing Caribbean sun and the pests for which the tropics are famous, and designated with a status that deprived them of due process or even the protections accorded to prisoners of war. It was obvious to me on that day that the American authorities had embarked on steps to torture their inmates. And I recall clearly one member of the paranoid right, a man who I speculate may have been a member of military counterintelligence, who claimed it was all perfectly legal. How could one make a case to a jury that this was not a lack of foresight, not a failure at a lower level, not a dispute over basic international law, but a crime against civilization, a crime against everything we value? Reluctantly, I understood. The only way to make the case would be by allowing to unfold what has, more and more wrong until the stones themselves will cry out against it. Even those who hate the prisoners should feel revulsion at what has been done. The inmates may suffer and die. But America's good name is in danger of perishing forever. As we march on the road to judgment, mark each step with the stroke of a drum. On this step, the US military has refused to allow privacy for prisoner interviews by an independent body. What we know to date has been obtained from intensely controlled interviews and leaks from FBI interrogators. And now, From the Beeb UN human rights experts said the US had refused to grant them the right to speak to detainees in private. UN senior official Manfred Nowak said private interviews were a "totally non-negotiable pre-condition" for conducting the visit. ...Mr Nowak, the UN's special rapporteur on torture, told the BBC his team would accept nothing less than unfettered access.... "If you want to hear from a detainee or know from a detainee whether he or she has been subjected to torture or ill treatment then you must be allowed to speak to this person in private," he said. "In front of prison guards they would never tell you the truth because of being afraid of reprisal.
Full disclosure: I am not Stansfield Turner, even if he sounds exactly like me.

A former director of America's intelligence agency has branded the country's deputy leader a "vice president for torture".

Admiral Stansfield Turner, who was in charge of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the 1970s, said Dick Cheney was overseeing torture policies of possible terrorist suspects and was damaging America's reputation by doing so.

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