The August 8 interview Amy Goodman of Demcracy Now! conducts with New Yorker writer Jane Mayer and Jameel Jaffner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Program, makes for more impeachment fodder. Mayer reveals that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) labelled the CIA's detention and interrogation methods "tantamount to torture". The ICRC warned that "U.S. officials responsible for the abusive treatment may have committed 'grave breaches' of the Geneva Conventions, and may have violated the U.S. Torture Act". Mayer reported on much of this in her recent New Yorker article on the "black sites".
Even more disturbing, if that's possible, the ICRC, which keeps its reports to the government confidential, the better to maintain access to prisoners, reported on all this to the Bush Administration last year, but access to the report was limited to only a trusted few. Following Jaffner's analysis quoted below, I'll bet Gonzales was one of them.
Jaffner is involved in a Freedom of Information Act request for records regarding oncerning treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. He is also author of an upcoming book about torture: Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond. He began his comments with an indictment of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his role in the Bush Administration's use of torture.
Well, it's actually, I think, a little frustrating that senior officials, including Alberto Gonzales, have not been held accountable for the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, but also elsewhere. We now know that prisoners were abused in US custody all over the world -- Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay. We know that they were abused because of policies that were adopted at the highest levels. Alberto Gonzales is one of the people who participated in constructing the policies that led to the abuse and, in many cases, the torture of prisoners, and yet neither Mr. Gonzales nor any of the other senior officials who were involved in creating those policies have been held to account. I think that, you know, actually, most of the senior officials who should have been held to account have been rewarded instead.
Jaffner also spoke about the linkage between CIA and the military on interrogations:
But one of the things that struck me in reading the article is the numerous similarities between what happened in CIA custody and what happened in military custody. And if you look at how the military developed its techniques, its techniques that led to the abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo, for example, they were developed in exactly the same way: by reverse-engineering, these SERE methods, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. These are methods that the military used ultimately against prisoners in its custody, and they are apparently the same methods that the CIA used against prisoners in its custody....
Later in the joint interview, Jane Mayer discusses "the use of psychologists in interrogations as "a way by the CIA to skirt the Convention Against Torture, among other international treaties":
Well, if you take a look at the so-called torture memos, the forty pages or so of memos that were written by Jay Bybee and John Yoo way back right after 9/11, and you take a look at how they -- they're busy looking at the Convention Against Torture, basically, it seems, trying to figure a way around it. One of the things they argued, these lawyers from the Justice Department, is that if you don't intend to torture someone, if your intention is not just to inflict terrible pain on them but to get information, then you really can't be necessarily convicted of torture.
So how do you prove that your intent is pure? Well, one of the things they suggest is if you consult with experts who will say that what you're doing is just interrogation, then that might also be a good legal defense. And so, one of the roles that these SERE psychologists played was a legal role. They were the experts who were consulted in order to argue that the program was not a program of torture. They are to say, “We've got PhDs, and this is standard psychology, and this is a legitimate way to question people.”
And now the government is trying to continue their campaign, taking it right into the convention of the American Psychological Association, where military psychologists stand ready to introduce a "substitute" resolution on psychologist participation in interrogations, the aim of which is to torpedo an earlier resolution calling for a moratorium on psychologists operating at foreign detention prisons! Jane Mayer hit the nail on the head, asked about the fate of the protest within APA on psychologists invovled in military/CIA interrogations:
And some of the psychologists who were key players in this actually are officials at the APA who have set the policy here. So there's a bit of a sort of a sense of the foxes guarding the chicken house.
So we await the next stage of the fight against the government and its insistence on maintaining the instruments of coercion, of abuse, of torture.