June 30, 2011
Daughters of the UnAmerican Revolution
Here's a nugget to gnaw on. Buried at the end of Attorney General Eric Holder's press statement on the long-running investigations of the "enhanced interrogation" of sundry terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay and other facilities, "rendited" to other countries for more enhanced interrogation, or otherwise pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered, is this casual, jaw-dropping announcement:
"[DoJ Prosecutor John] Durham and his team reviewed a tremendous volume of information pertaining to the detainees. That review included both information and matters that had never previously been examined by the department. Mr. Durham has advised me of the results of his investigation, and I have accepted his recommendation to conduct a full criminal investigation regarding the death in custody of two individuals. Those investigations are ongoing," Holder said. "The Department has determined that an expanded criminal investigation of the remaining matters is not warranted."
The two cases remaining are presumed to be the deaths of Gul Rahman and Manadel al-Jamadi; they're only two homicide investigations studied by Durham, which does tend to narrow the field of possibilities:
Holder did not identify the two death cases. But former and current U.S. officials who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation said Durham was looking at the deaths of Gul Rahman and Manadel al-Jamadi.
Rahman died in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2002 after being shackled to a cold cement wall in a secret CIA prison in northern Kabul, Afghanistan, known as the Salt Pit. He was suspected of links to the terrorist group al-Qaida.
Al-Jamadi died in 2003 at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The death has been known to the public for years and a military autopsy declared al-Jamadi's death a homicide.
Since neither of these two remaining cases involves a detainee subjected to waterboarding, nor rendited to a foreign country for interrogation, nor interrogated after 2003, nor interrogated in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility and subjected to stress positions, the belly slap, caterpillaring, or the attention grab -- then clearly the Justice Department under Holder and his boss, President Barack H. Obama, has come to the conclusion that none of these horrific and unfathomable methods of enhanced interrogation constituted "torture," "war crimes," or "crimes agianst the human race," as scores of elected Democrats and hysterical liberals have bellowed for the last decade.
Mighty nice of you to tell us, guys.
So what about the two deaths? Aren't they proof positive of the previous administration's complicity in ghastly and gruesome depredations, denial of basic human rights, and of course murder under color of authority? Surely that counts as a war crime!
Nope; not even close. First of all, the George W. Bush administration defended neither of the two deaths; in fact, both were investigated as possible homicides by the Bush administration. The Army classified one as a homicide in 2004, while the CIA was unable to determine in the other case whether the detainee death was due to criminal neglect or the stupidity of an inexperienced agent.
Second, the plain facts of each of the two deaths make plain that they did not result from either Bush-administration policy or turning a blind eye to rogue agents:
Gul Rahman, alias Abdul Manan, was a known jihadi and bodyguard to the notorious Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Rahman was violent and uncooperative after being captured in Pakistan. When he was transferred to the Salt Pit prison in Kabul (a former factory made of brick), he became even more violent and uncooperative. Following a fruitless interrogation, he was left shackled in a cell overnight; the temperature dropped to 36°, and he was found dead the next morning. An autopsy revealed he died of hypothermia.
The CIA launched numerous investigations, finally concluding that they could not determine whether the death was due to intentional abuse or plain inexperience on the part of the CIA interrogator in charge; the agent interrogator and the station chief in charge of the Salt Pit requested guidance during the interrogation, but Langley never responded. Everybody agrees -- and has agreed since 2002 -- that Rahman died because of his treatment in the Afghan prison; what they can't determine is whether that treatment rises to the point of criminality (presumably what Durham will now attempt to decide).
But certainly there was never any attempt by the Bush administration, the CIA, or the military to order, cover up, conceal, or defend what happened in the Salt Pit. In fact, the death led to a wholesale revamping of the CIA's interrogation procedures and techniques, under Bush's first Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, to prevent future such deaths. (My source for this summary of the fate of Gul Rahman is that right-wing propaganda mill, the Hufflepuffington Post.)
Manadel al-Jamadi was beaten to death, his injuries sustained either during interrogation by a CIA agent and a contractor or else by the U.S. Navy Seals who captured him. He died in Abu Ghraib during its period of lawlessness under Army Brigadier Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was subsequently removed from command and demoted to colonel. The Army prosecuted numerous military and civilian personnel for the abuses at Abu Ghraib, and they classified the al-Jamadi death as a homicide in 2004.
In the absence of any shred of evidence that the previous administration orchestrated, defended, or condoned the deaths, or through inaction allowed them to continue, there simply is no way to hold the president responsible for criminal or negligent actions committed by field agents against policy, particularly since both incidents resulted in extensive changes to policy to prevent it happening again (successfully prevented, I should add).
So it appears that in addition to finally admitting that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized by the Bush administration were neither torture nor war crimes nor crimes against nature and nature's god, Holder and Obama must now be prepared to admit that not even the two deaths themselves constituted any of the above, committed by any of the following:
- President George W. Bush
- Vice President Dick Cheney
- Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet
- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
- National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice
- Attorney General John Ashcroft
- Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel Jay Bybee
- Member of the Office of Legal Counsel John Yoo (who, one presumes, need no longer fear being extradited by President B.O. to Spain to be tried as a torturer, for the high crime of having clarified current U.S. law);
- Or even the notorious reputed Republican Karl Rove (who, one presumes, need no longer fear being frog-marched anywhere, for the high crime of being Karl Rove).
Rather, it appears that some bad actors took advantage of the frog of war to commit heinous crimes, and/or inexperienced incompetents made stupid mistakes. A revelation!
Thus it seems that after nearly ten years of increasingly bizarre and wild-eyed accusations of heresy, perfidy, villainy, and mopery with intent to gawk emanating from the penumbra of the Democratic Party, the Emily Litellas of the Left now clarify their position to... "Never mind!"
But at least the Left had a solid decade in which to savagely assail the United States of America as the worst terrorist state on the globe, to destroy our standing among our allies, and give aid and comfort to the enemy; so it wasn't a total loss!
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 30, 2011, at the time of 6:25 PM
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