Thursday, July 28, 2005

Rummy's fault?

ThinkProgress puts it in small words:
1. Donald Rumsfeld approved the use of dogs for interrogations at Guantanamo.
2. Guantanamo commanders traveled to Abu Ghraib in 2003 and encouraged officers there to use dogs.
3. Officers at Abu Ghraib understood — and have now testified under oath — that the Guantanamo commanders’ visit was at the behest of Donald Rumsfeld.
This is not about bad apples. The testimony was in a court martial against two soldiers. As the AP explains "Prosecutors say the two soldiers used their dogs in a competition to frighten prisoners into urinating on themselves in December 2003 and January 2004."

Yahoo's version of the story says:

A dog handled by Cardona bit a detainee on both thighs, severely enough to require stitches, Frederick said. A dog handled by Smith bit an inmate on one of his wrists, but not hard enough to the break the skin, he said.

Frederick also said he heard both defendants say they were competing, using their dogs, to see how many detainees they could frighten into urinating on themselves.
In related news, the Washington Times explains why Bill Frist decided against holding a vote on the defense bill (my emphasis):

Senate Republican leaders pulled the plug on the defense bill yesterday, rather than face a host of votes on base closings, veterans benefits and the administration's detainee policy that could have embarrassed President Bush.
The amendments would have delayed closing bases while the nation is at war (and then one has to assume indefinitely afterward), increased veteran benefits, and, as the SFGate puts it:

McCain's package of amendments would make interrogation techniques outlined in the Army field manual… the standard for treatment of all detainees in the Defense Department's custody. It also would expressly prohibit the cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody no matter where they are held.

The United States also would have to register all detainees in Defense Department facilities with the Red Cross …

McCain supports a pair of amendments Democrats are likely to sponsor prohibiting the United States from exporting terror suspects to countries that are known to torture prisoners, and requiring the United States to register with the Red Cross detainees who are held outside of Defense Department facilities.

Graham's amendment would make law the procedures the Bush administration has put in place for prosecuting cases of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

However, it also would allow detainees to have a military lawyer — not just a military representative — available when appearing before annual review boards. Like parole boards, these panels determine whether the detainee still poses a threat to the United States and, if so, should remain in custody.

Democrats — led by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee — plan to introduce an amendment that would set up an independent commission to review detention and interrogation practices at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.
So, rather than embarrass himself and Dick Cheney, who came down to back up a veto threat, Frist delayed the bill for a little while longer. There were 12 Republicans ready to support those amendments on detainees, and a cloture motion brought to prevent those amendments failed with 50 votes for cloture. What's wrong with the other 43 Republicans is a question for another day.

Also, Crooked Timber links to

an extraordinary post at Balkinization detailing six memos from Judge Advocate Generals in the armed forces that have just been declassified. The memos make it quite clear that the decision to provide a legal opinion that whitewashed “extreme interrogation techniques” encountered considerable resistance from the armed forces legal services, who saw it as overturning longstanding US armed forces policies which committed the US to take the “high road.” The armed services’ opinions were sidelined, in favour of John Yoo’s memo, which seems to have closed the debate and cleared the way for the later abuses which did indeed take place.

There was a kerfuffle a few months ago about lawyers who provided legal opinions that gave cover to dodgy tax-avoidance schemes; giving legal cover to torture seems in principle to be rather more problematic.
'Nuff for now.