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"Vice President for torture", secret CIA prisons

Folkard Wohlgemuth recommends the op-ed "Degrading our soldiers and ourselves" in the International Herald Tribune, which deals with Vice President Cheney's attempt on allowing the CIA to treat (or should one rather say: "abuse"?) captives basically as they please. "It is worth remembering that the rule of law is not just a "value," much less a luxury confined to more peaceful times", comments the author, Anne-Marie Slaughter. "Our founders looked to law as constraint, not as license; as a check on power, not authorization. The difference is a matter of honor, of values, of identity itself."
Washington Post editorial calls Vice President Cheney "an open advocate of torture."

The Wash Post's Dana Priest reports about a "covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries":

Although the CIA will not acknowledge details of its system, intelligence officials defend the agency's approach, arguing that the successful defense of the country requires that the agency be empowered to hold and interrogate suspected terrorists for as long as necessary and without restrictions imposed by the U.S. legal system or even by the military tribunals established for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. (...)

It is illegal for the government to hold prisoners in such isolation in secret prisons in the United States, which is why the CIA placed them overseas, according to several former and current intelligence officials and other U.S. government officials. Legal experts and intelligence officials said that the CIA's internment practices also would be considered illegal under the laws of several host countries, where detainees have rights to have a lawyer or to mount a defense against allegations of wrongdoing. (...) [via Dialog International]


One month after 9/11, President Bush spoke about the government's ethical standards:

Let me say a few words about important values we must demonstrate while all of us serve in government. First, we must always maintain the highest ethical standards. We must always ask ourself not only what is legal, but what is right. There is no goal of government worth accomplishing if it cannot be accomplished with integrity.

Second, I want us to set an example of humility. As you work for the federal government there is no excuse for arrogance, and there's never a reason to show disrespect for others. A new tone in Washington must begin with decency and fairness. I want everyone who represents our government to be known for these values.

The White House has the transcript and Think Progress the video of his speech.


The liberal monthly magazine
The American Prospect features a commentary by Robert Kuttner entitled "Bush Just Doesn't Learn." The Bush administration "finds itself in a shockingly deep hole" as a consequence of the Libby- and Delay-indictments, the disastrous nomination for Supreme Court Justice of Harriet Miers, the highly criticized reaction to hurricane Katrina, and the discomforting count of 2,000 American soldiers in Iraq. "Bush could recover by governing as the moderate he once pretended to be. […] But instead, Bush is appeasing the base that just humiliated him, suggesting that the man just doesn’t learn."

In October the Atlantic Review described how the US Senate and an army captain stood up for moral values in the war on terrorism.


Atlantic Review on : Guantanamo: The struggle for the rule of law and liberal values

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Torture and indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo have been hot topics in Washington in recent weeks. Senator McCain wants to categorically ban torture, while Vice President Cheney wants to give the CIA the right to torture.  The Senate is


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stehpinkeln on :

Anne-Marie Slaughter. "Our founders looked to law as constraint, not as license; as a check on power, not authorization. The difference is a matter of honor, of values, of identity itself." Factually inaccurate (It's only a lie if it was intentional, which I have no way of judging). FDR opened up concentration camps for Japanese-American citizens and relocated thousands of them to those camps without due process. Lincoln's soultion to anti-war protesters was hanging them; re: the New York Draft riots. If Ms. Slaughter is uncomfortable with the steps that are neccessary to win the War against Terrorism, she is free to leave. There are millions of people that would love to take her place in America. If she is not American, then she needs to mind her own business. I would like to point out that Terrorists are NOT covered by any of the Geneva Conventions that the USA is a party to. That is an URL to the international treaty that the USA is a party to. It covers: "(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. " Please note that terrorists are excluded from this protection, since they are taking an active part in the hostilities, and they are not a member of the armed forces of any nation as determined by their lack of identifying uniforms, badges, etc. as well has having no distinct chain of command. This part; "with respect to the above-mentioned persons:" Is what excludes the terrorists from protection. If everybody was covered the above line wouldn't be there. In which case the USA WOULD NOT have become a party to the treaty. The USA refused to join the 1977 Convention for just that reason. AS far as Morality goes, Morality is an individual thingie, it cannot be legistated or dictated. If torturing one person can save the lives of many people, then it is immoral not to tortue that person. Sometimes life doesn't offer a good choice, just the option of bad or worse. What's important about this event is the fact that it will out the CIA dudes that are trying to overhrow the US government. What most foreingers don't realize and few Americans is that the CIA is activly seeking to bring down the Bush admninistration. This is treason and should be treated as such. So here is the administrations chance to put the CIA down for good. Replace it. Does anyone out there really think it's a good idea to have the USA controlled by a small cabal of disgruntled spys? If Ms. Slaughter gets her way and the Jihadists take over ( a slim chance but not impossible) as she is dragged into the rape room prior to having her throat slit, George W, Bush and all us reactionary bastards will seem like a breath of fresh air. She might understand that we were correct before she dies. But it will be to late for her. BTW, is Paris still burning? Maybe they need to pull their troops out of Iraq? How many European cities have to burn before you guys get off your tired, lame, socialist arses and take up your weapons? It is time for the Final Crusade. None of us will be safe until there is a christian church on EVERY corner in the Mid East. Make Islam a footnote of history. Like your buddy Osama said when he declared war on America back in '96, "everybody wants to ride the strong horse".

Traveler on :

Wow, a true idiot straight out of the movies. I mean come on. Your president is an ignorant, corrupt, hypocrite and you got exactly what you deserved by re-electing him. He is as dangerous to the world as Sadam because he cannot leave religion out of the State. You talk about Islam but America is the most religious, and some say zealot country in the western world. Good to you America, you 'll need it.

David on :

The comment by stehpinkeln makes me despair for the future of democracy. He does bring up one shameful aspect of American history: the unlawful detention of Japanese-Americans in guarded camps. That was immoral and wrong, and subsequent presidents have apologized. I can recommend David Neiwart'bs book: "Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community". Fortunately, most Americans are sickened by torture, and that is one reason why Bush's poll numbers are now below 40%. And Cheney's? Only 16% of Americans give the "Vice President of Torture" a favorable rating.

Axe Wielding Maniac on :

This exactly the thing that is killing our image around the world. Perception is everything. During the first Gulf war Americans where appalled at the fact that an American prisoner was displayed in public. I don’t know about the men you know, but most of the Men I know and the Marines I served with would have a problem with world seeing them in the poses that our detainees where pictured is it any wonder that the president will not sign any agreement that binds our troops to international law.

stehpinkeln on :

The ONLY poll that counted was held last November. David demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of polling and what polls do. Polls track TRENDS. To give a poll number without reference to the polls that preceeded it is a propaganda technique. That 40% is only valid as a referent to other polls on the same subject. It is valid to say, PRESIDENT Bush's ratings are going down, or to say that PRESIDENT Bush has higher ratings at this point in his administration then either Clinton (27) or Reagan (32, IIRC) did. Both statements are factual and relative. To say the polls are at 40% is bogus. The conculusions you draw from that poll are just as bogus as the poll itself. Where is your evidence? If this administration brought back the Rack and the Iron Maiden, I could claim that it would raise PRESIDENT Bush's rating. My statement would be easier to support then your. That is because PRESIDENT Bush HAS NEVER had any support from the Left. So how can his ratings be slipping thru losing what he never had? No, the fall in support comes from the Right. Those are the people that would support a little torture if it saves lives. Like so many things, it isn't the act, but the intent. If the Torture serves a greater good ( saving lives) , then it is proper and should be used. Some people just lack the intellectual requirements to understand that concept. Round Ideas in Square Heads. This administration is losing support because it is losing it's base. That will change. The Demonrats attempt to make being a Republician a crime will backfire big time in November of '06. By then the battle of Iraq will be winding down and the various trials of innocent Republican Political figures will have ended in aquitals. Senators in Red States will be lining up book deals and the congresscritters will be bragging aboyut how they supported the WoT all along.

Brigitte on :

Bush is damned hypocrite! I agree with *David* . The majority of Americans are decent (of course) and disapprove of torture. I don't mind killing or hurting on the battlefield. Torturing innocents is not acceptable. Their is always a risk that you torture innocents. Aren't you concerned about that, *stehpinkeln* ? The use of torture in the ticking bomb case might be acceptable, if their is overwhelming evidence that the suspect is indeed a terrorist. A German police chief *threatened* a suspect with torture in his attempt to save a kidnapped boy's life. *Axe Wielding Maniac* , the perception of the US is often wrong. Many foreigners don't think Marines are honoroble, but most of them are.

Brigitte on :

Here's more info about the German torture case from The Atlantic Monthly "On September 27 of last year a Frankfurt law student kidnapped an eleven-year-old boy named Jakob von Metzler, whose smiling face appeared in a box alongside the story. The kidnapper had covered Jakob's mouth and nose with duct tape, wrapped the boy in plastic, and hidden him in a wooded area near a lake. The police captured the suspect when he tried to pick up ransom money, but the suspect wouldn't reveal where he had left the boy, who the police thought might still be alive. So the deputy police chief of Frankfurt, Wolfgang Daschner, told his subordinates to threaten the suspect with torture. According to the suspect, he was told that a "specialist" was being flown in who would "inflict pain on me of the sort I had never experienced." The suspect promptly told the police where he'd hidden Jakob, who, sadly, was found dead. The newspaper said that Daschner was under fire from Amnesty International, among other groups, for threatening torture." The police chief was convicted, but received a very low punishment: Daschner-Prozess - Wikipedia "Das Gericht legte als Strafmaß eine Geldstrafe von 90 Tagessätzen zu je 120 Euro (insgesamt 10.800 Euro) gegen Daschner und von 60 Tagessätzen zu je 60 Euro (insgesamt 3.600 Euro) gegen Ennigkeit fest, die jeweils für ein Jahr auf Bewährung ausgesetzt wurden (sog. Verwarnung mit Strafvorbehalt). Damit bewegte sich das Gericht nach einhelliger Meinung an der absolut untersten Grenze einer Strafe, da das Gesetz in derartigen Fällen grundsätzlich Freiheitsstrafen zwischen sechs Monaten und fünf Jahren vorsieht. Allerdings sah das Gericht in diesem Fall trotz Vorliegens des Regelbeispiels "massive mildernde Umstände, die der Anwendung des erhöhten Strafrahmens [...] entgegenstehen und ihn als unangemessen erscheinen lassen." Die Strafen werden nicht ins Führungszeugnis aufgenommen, so dass sich die Verurteilten als "unbestraft" ("nicht vorbestraft") bezeichnen dürfen."

At the Zoo on :

Broad subject. People throw the word "torture" around loosely to mean almost anything, even what amounts to hazing. And, as in Brigitte's comment, who wouldn't resort to torture in that situation? Be honest with yourself. Yet, fortunately, rarely is such life-saving information needed so instantly. I agree with Senator McCain: Congress must set the standards. Like him, I don't give a rat's rear end about the terrorists, but I do care about us and our people. Brutality is its own reward, and I don't want to brutalize our troops and CIA agents by having them do cruel and inhuman things. That said, the KGB invented an ingenious method of "breaking" people that works like a charm, without laying a hand on them. I will bet my bottom dollar that MI6 and every western European intelligence agency uses this method. Quite similar in many respects to what you see at GITMO. Makes the the prisoner uncomfortable at times, but otherwise nothing like physical torture. Unfortunately, this method doesn't work very well on people already "broken" like terrorists. (Maybe you have to "unbreak" them.) I think the CIA is learning how handle this type of person in order to get information. Torture doesn't work either and will backfire on a religious fanatic, so I doubt it happens unless somebody gets frustrated and breaks the rules. These jihadists are trained to make false accusations of torture if they're captured. All who handle prisoners must be closely supervised to prevent mistreatment. Also, the main problem in Europe is that terrorists have more rights than Mafioso. That makes it impossible to get actionable intelligence from prisoners, and that is why the CIA sneaks them off to interrogate in secret. Because there's a WAR on, and American lives count too! These are not individual criminals -- they are part of an armed force waging WAR. Imagine treating every captured German soldier during WWII the way Europe treats terrorists now. It's absurd. The main thing is intelligence. Terrorists must be held incommunicato till we learn what we can from them. Europe's failure to cooperate in this is the reason for the "secret prisons."

Brigitte on :

No, the reason for the secret prisons around the world (including Europe) is that these prisons are illegal in the US, as the quote from the Washington Post says. They were kept secret because the guys in charge know that the American people would disapprove of them (even in times of war like now) and because some judge might consider them unconstitutional. Europe and the US cooperate on intelligence sharing better than you think. The most valuable intelligence isn't gathered by torture, but by infiltration and defectors etc. What is that KGB stuff you are talking about? How does it work? Why does not it work on "broken" terrorists? Somehow I find the following article funny. "Bush Orders Staff to Attend Ethics Briefings White House Counsel to Give 'Refresher' Course By Jim VandeHei Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, November 5, 2005; Page A02 President Bush has ordered White House staff to attend mandatory briefings beginning next week on ethical behavior and the handling of classified material after the indictment last week of a senior administration official in the CIA leak probe." I am imagining the lesson will go like this: "Classified material is classified because it should be classified. You have to treat classified material as classified. If you do not do that you are violating ethics. Any questions?" Rove then asks: "What's ethics?"

At the Zoo on :

That's why Congress has to act - to establish jurisdiction in these cases so no criminal-court judge pulls the same irresponsible stunt here that judges are pulling in Europe. These are not isolated crimes. This is an armed force waging war. But when the US just wants prisoners off US soil so that no activist judge can demand a trial before interrogation is finished, we take them to GITMO. There are no "secret prisons" in Europe. There are HIDEAWAYS where the CIA have taken prisoners they are interrogating in sercret, before handing them back to Europe's legal system. And yes, torture does backfire. I thought that was common knowledge. The KGB could have used it and didn't for that reason. The Inquisition's big stick was 17 years in a hole awaiting trial. Especially against religious fanatics, torture backfires. Sorry about the cherished myth: it would be so nice to think that America tortures people, wouldn't it? I'm not saying it NEVER happens. Interrorgation is an enormously lengthy and frustrating process that these Islamo-psychos are trained to withstand. People do lose their cool and if not properly supervised, may break the rules. But torture is not policy and not good interrogation tactics. It's easy to see why: You want an informant you can consult often, someone you can be reasonably sure is telling you the truth. Torture will not give you that. "Breaking" people is another thing I thought was common knowledge. It's breaking their will - to impose mind control. Brainwashing. These religious fanatics are already broken by their leaders. These leaders make most of their personal, private decisions for them -- right down to what they eat, wear, think, and feel. As in religious order of nuns, that makes very pliable tools of them -- executioners of their leader's will, not their own. How do you break a mind that's already broken? Nobody knows the answer yet. Do you unbreak it? As for the method of breaking see here and here Kathy K

Andrew Sullivan on :

Andrew Sullivan in The Times,,2092-1696941,00.html/ "The evidence now shows that 9/11 has indeed changed America - into a country where brutal treatment of detainees is now legal. And it has all been done with legal cover and political deflection. (...) This is what the new world of terror can do to a country dedicated to human dignity and liberty. When President George W Bush said, after Abu Ghraib, that those images did not represent America, he sadly mis-spoke. Thanks to his own decisions legalising torture for "military necessity", those images do indeed define part of Bush's new America. Deep in the cages of Guantanamo Bay lies that saddening, sobering truth."

Brigitte on :

@Kathy "to establish jurisdiction in these cases so no criminal-court judge pulls the same irresponsible stunt here that judges are pulling in Europe." What are your sources? Many Guantanamo prisoners have been interrogated for four years. How much longer do you need? The longer they are held the less useful any information they might have becomes, because the world changes every day...

Brigitte on :

@ Kathy "irresponsible stunt here that judges are pulling in Europe. These are not isolated crimes. This is an armed force waging war. But when the US just wants prisoners off US soil so that no activist judge can demand a trial before interrogation is finished, we take them to GITMO." While you put suspects indefinitely at GITMO without charging them with any crime, our "irresponsible, activist" judges get active by the rule of law and make sure that they get a fair trial and then get locked up according to the law. From The Economist: "In the largest German terrorist trial to date, a court in Dusseldorf in late October convicted four Arab men of planning attacks on Jewish sites in Germany. According to the evidence presented, Berlin's Jewish Museum was among the intended targets of the four, who were members of al-Tawhid, a Palestinian organisation. The men were given prison sentences ranging between five and eight years."

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