Thursday, November 10, 2005
Rumsfeld's 'Humane' Doesn't Cut It
Vice President Cheney and his dwindling number of GOP floor lieutenants continue to demonstrate amazing industry in their efforts to block the McCain Amendment. Today’s effort focuses on a new Department of Defense Directive No. 3115.09, dated November 3, 2005 and issued by Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England. House Armed Services Committee Chair Duncan Hunter and others are busily pointing to this Directive and arguing that it resolves the worries that motivated McCain, Warner and Graham. With this Directive, Hunter argues, the concerns about detainee mistreatment are addressed, and the need for the McCain Amendment is eliminated.
No torture. Sounds good. While torture should not be allowed, what about coercive force in interrogation, what about psycological interrogations? Are they allowed. If so, what specifically?
I agree the McCain Amendment should apply to the DoD. Cheney and Rumsfeld blew having any trust placed in them after Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. But we need a more agressive standard for the CIA that is not torture. These standards can be defined. Put sunset provisions on it, allow Congress to monitor what is going on, but putting down blanket standards restricting the CIA has often proven to be counter-productive. I don't trust the CIA, Rumsfeld and Cheney, but I sure as hell fear what al Qaeda is up to. You should too.
McCain argued on Fox News Sunday on November 7, 2005 that the Israelis have good interrogation standards. Even though the Israeli Supreme Court banned torture in 1999--guess what, the Israelis use coercive force today in interrogations. The difference is the Israelis have trained professionals doing it: three years of training, fluent in Arabic, they don't engage in sexual or religious humiliation, and they sure as hell don't delegate interrogations to any Lyndie England types. It is serious business that needs to be professionally done.
Pass the McCain Amendment for the DoD and come up with rational sane limits on the CIA.
Unclear how the CIA has not warrant less trust than the military here -- because we were stonewalled more respecting them so we know less about them?
That's weird. Furthermore, if anything, shouldn't we trust military interrogators more since military training includes certain ethics the CIA might not have? This includes the use of mercenary questioners (as noted in the text) and/or "renditions" to other nations known to torture.
Again, the record there doesn't warrant our trust either. Sure, we should fear our enemies ... we should fear crossing the line as well. In fact, as we have seen, crossing the line often is counterproductive.
P.S. see here
Thanks to Scott for his excellent analysis. One thing that I would add is that neither a DOD Directive nor a presidential order can exempt the CIA (or for that matter the Secretary of Defense or the President) from liability under international law for war crimes, which include grave violations of the Geneva Conventions and other treaties for such things as forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and unlawful deportations, not to mention torture in any guise.
Apart from this, I would like to note my personal bugbear, which is perhaps important, perhaps not, that if the Administration wants to call all al Qaida terrorists enemy combatants subject to "the laws of war" and not to criminal justice (per Bush's Military Order of 11/13/01 or his subsequent orderless enemy combatant designations), what justifies these persons being exempted from the DoD Directive?
In other words, are they or are they not combatants? Get your story straight. If they are combatants (and shouldn't there be a determination of this by a competent tribunal first?), what possible reason can you give for detaining them by a civilian agency and not by the DoD?
But in any event, none of these combatants can be considered exempt from protection under international law any more than we can justify or excuse violations of the LOAC on our part because our enemies didn't follow the rules.
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