Saturday, June 30, 2012

#Iraq: #US Torture - Bush, top cabinet officials monitored torture of detainees

By Tom Eley

23 April 2009
Former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and other top Bush administration officials had detailed knowledge of the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture tactics and approved them, according to a front-page article published Wednesday by the New York Times.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee released the results of its investigation into the treatment of alleged terrorists in military prisons. Among its major findings, the 231-page report confirms that CIA torture began months before the drafting of the recently released Bush Justice Department legal memos that sanctioned it.

This confirmed that the memos were nothing more than pseudo-legal rationalizations for illegal policies that were already being carried out. They were concocted in order to provide an ex post facto legal cover for CIA torturers and the government officials, from Bush on down, who gave the orders for their actions. 

The same report provides evidence that the White House ordered the torturing of alleged terrorists in an attempt to extract statements linking Al Qaeda with then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. This fact establishes a direct connection between the violation of domestic and international laws barring torture, the preparation of an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq, and a conspiracy by the president and his top officials to deceive the American people and drag them into war on the basis of lies. It underscores that the adoption of torture as a tool of foreign policy is part and parcel of a turn to dictatorial forms of rule and the assault on the democratic rights of the American people.

These latest revelations further demonstrate that the Bush White House was the headquarters of a militarist clique that operated with contempt for the Constitution and the law. These are the very officials whom the Obama administration is seeking to shield from criminal investigation and prosecution.

The Times article and the Senate report signal a sharpening of the conflict within the state and the Obama administration itself over the torture policies carried out by both the CIA and the military under Bush. That conflict erupted into the open following Obama’s decision last Thursday to release four previously classified memos from the Bush Justice Department detailing various abusive interrogation tactics and vouching for their legality.

The new disclosures have made President Obama’s position untenable. He has repeatedly signaled that no high-ranking Bush administration officials and none of the CIA perpetrators are to be investigated. On Tuesday, he left open the possibility of a criminal investigation of the Bush Justice Department lawyers who drafted the torture memos and suggested that he might support a “bipartisan” and “non-political” commission of inquiry into the treatment of detainees, along the lines of the 9/11 Commission that oversaw an official cover-up of the events surrounding the terrorist attacks on New York and more