Saturday, March 18, 2006
So Brutal, Even the CIA Flinches
Almost two years ago, Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker that Secretary Rumsfeld and Under-Secretary Cambone had established secret special access programs (SAPs) within DoD that are authorized to use rough treatment, and sexual humiliation, in interrogating not only suspected al Qaeda operatives, but also the numerous persons rounded up as possible insurgents in Iraq. And as Bart Gellman reported in the Washington Post in January 2005, Rumsfeld further concluded that such operations need not be disclosed to Congress, so that there is a wholly secret interrogation regime within the Department of Defense playing by its own interrogation rules.
Not a "lot of details" at Andrew Sullivan, after all. Prety much just factless general accusations such as are posted here. I tried a case like this once. The other side cited an hour's worth of "thou shalt nots" and not a single provable fact that they had been "shalted" by my client. I won. But keep on trying. Say a lie long and loudly enough and it may find some who believe it.
nk: you either haven't read the article, or you're dishonest. The article does not limit itself to "factless general accusations."
The rest of us: Note that Boykin was assigned by Cambone to "get to the bottom" of it all, & reported back that he found "no pattern of abuse." How surprising.
Note also that the Task Force 121 of Hersh's article was renamed 6-26, so it is indeed the same group.
Your enumerated concerns seem timely, and particularly relevant balanced with JBalkin's companion post today about novel 4th amendment imperilments.
I would expect congressional hearings on the matter you discuss here; hopefully, both sides of the aisle could partition off topics which would be off limits: namely, I would advise against incorporating in US congressional debate and hearings the inflammatory issue of the international court in The Hague.
Furthermore, while you cite military rulebook regulations, Field Manual and UCMJ, it would be worthwhile assessing the precise condition of those two documents and incorporating the outcome of that review in a revisit to the theme of your article; which is to say, it is my understanding, perhaps imprecise, that both documents have undergone revision and some operations are guided by various drafts not yet finalized.
Part of the reason Congress would be the appropriate venue for investigation of your post's theme, aside from the reported practices' putative anomalousness, would be providing an occasion for Congress to ponder publicly if there is a pattern, as many legal observers are suggesting in examining other executive innovations since the commencement of the ongoing peculiar conflict with non-nationally identified foes in the loose aggregate of terrorist movements; as I doubt many of these extraordinary alterations in regulations and practices by the US would have increased absent the terrorism and response by our military and our congress and the executive and its agencies.
Is what the army is doing now different or worse than what the CIA (& army?) did in SE Asia 30-40 years ago? I'm thinking specifically here of Operation Phoenix. I am not sure exactly why I am asking, I think to try to understand if our behavior is worse than it was then, or if perhaps we have made some progress since then; the scale seems less than it was then, and more people are aware of it more quickly than back then.
Experience, both American and other countries' suggests that these tactics are inevitable when fighting guerillas (i.e. counter-insurgency). The lesson may be that we should be very wary of counter-insurgency, and recognize what is almost certainly bound to develop once we get involved in such wars.
Experience, both American and other countries' suggests that these tactics are inevitable when fighting guerillas (i.e. counter-insurgency).
Wolfson, how do you mean "inevitable"? The article suggests, and other evidence supports, the conclusion that 6-26's abuses didn't serve any useful purpose.
Rather the contrary, if counter-insurgency requires building support in the general population.
Now, if you meant that in practice, counter-insurgency tactics tend to degenerate into abuses unless tightly controlled ... then I would have to agree.
I'm very disturbed and worried aout the behavior at this detention facility. However, I'm very unconvinced that the parts of the Geneva code you cite are relevant. After all these are not uniformed members of an opposing milatary group, nor even would they count as spies. Also it is unclear if we even count as an occupying power anymore given we are there with some level of consent from the Iraqi government.Post a Comment
Besides in general I think all this invocation of the Geneva convention is a bad idea. The Geneva convention is a very narrow sort of protection designed to provide some standards of treatment for particular sorts of situations. Trying to stretch the convention to cover unclear cases makes it easier to defend such treatment simply by arguing it doesn't violate the Geneva convention and avoid the real question of moral justificaiton.