Prison Interrogators' Gloves Came Off Before Abu Ghraib

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by IJ Reilly, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #1
    But I'm sure it's all just a terrible coincidence...

    WASHINGTON — After American Taliban recruit John Walker Lindh was captured in Afghanistan, the office of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld instructed military intelligence officers to "take the gloves off" in interrogating him.

    The instructions from Rumsfeld's legal counsel in late 2001, contained in previously undisclosed government documents, are the earliest known evidence that the Bush administration was willing to test the limits of how far it could go legally to extract information from suspected terrorists.

    The Pentagon and Congress are now investigating the mistreatment of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in late 2003 and trying to determine whether higher-ups in the military chain of command had created a climate that fostered prisoner abuse.

    What happened to Lindh, who was stripped and humiliated by his captors, foreshadowed the type of abuse documented in photographs of American soldiers tormenting Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

    At the time, just weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. was desperate to find terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. After Lindh asked for a lawyer rather than talk to interrogators, he was not granted one nor was he advised of his Miranda rights against self-incrimination. Instead, the Pentagon ordered intelligence officers to get tough with him.

    The documents, read to The Times by two sources critical of how the government handled the Lindh case, show that after an Army intelligence officer began to question Lindh, a Navy admiral told the intelligence officer that "the secretary of Defense's counsel has authorized him to 'take the gloves off' and ask whatever he wanted."

    Lindh was being questioned while he was propped up naked and tied to a stretcher in interrogation sessions that went on for days, according to court papers.

    In the early stages, his responses were cabled to Washington hourly, the new documents show.

    A Defense Department spokesperson said Tuesday evening that the Pentagon "refused to speculate on the exact intent of the statement" from Rumsfeld's office to the military authorities interrogating Lindh.

    ...

    While Lindh was being interrogated in Afghanistan and later aboard a ship, senior Bush administration officials were strategizing on how to handle other prisoners being rounded up in Afghanistan, with an eye toward flexibility in interrogating them.

    In a series of memos from late 2001 to early 2002, top legal officials in the administration identified the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a safe haven offshore that would shield the secret interrogation process from intervention by the U.S. judicial system.

    The memos show that top government lawyers believed the administration was not bound by the Geneva Convention governing treatment of prisoners because "Al Qaeda is merely a violent political movement or organization and not a nation-state" that had signed the international treaty.

    However, the memos also show that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell warned the White House that a tougher approach toward interrogation "will reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practices in supporting Geneva Conventions and undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops, both in this specific conflict and in general."

    The tenor of these administration memos on the handling of prisoners in the earliest stages of the U.S.-declared war on terrorism was similar to a legal "working paper" by administration lawyers in March 2003. It concluded that the president had the authority to allow any interrogation tactics that he thought would protect the American public, including torture, according to government documents. The Pentagon this week said that the paper was part of an internal administration debate and was not a policy that was carried out.

    ...

    According to a video aired days after Lindh's capture, Spann asked him, "You believe in what you're doing here that much, you're willing to be killed here?"

    Another CIA officer, identified as Dave Tyson, told Spann within Lindh's hearing that "he's got to decide if he wants to live or die, and die here. We're just going to leave him, and he's going to … sit in prison the rest of his … short life. It's his decision."

    Lindh, then 20, did not respond. Shortly after, an uprising broke out. Spann was killed — the first U.S. fatality of the war — and Lindh was shot in the leg.

    Lindh was recaptured, and over a series of interrogations — at a school at Mazar-i-Sharif, at Camp Rhino in Afghanistan and aboard a Navy ship — he was kept in harsh conditions, stripped and tied to a stretcher, and often held for long periods in a large metal container, the government and defense agreed during his legal battle.

    In court hearings and legal papers, his attorneys complained that he was deprived of sleep and food, that his leg wound was not treated, and that for 54 days he was neither allowed legal assistance nor told that his father had retained lawyers on his behalf in San Francisco.

    Lindh's lawyers declined to comment on the matter this week, noting that a provision of his 2002 plea agreement stated he would not bring up the conditions under which he was held overseas.

    ...

    On Dec. 14, 2001, Haynes' deputy, Paul W. Cobb Jr., told Lindh's San Francisco lawyers that "our forces have provided him with appropriate medical attention and will continue to treat him humanely, consistent with the Geneva Convention protections for prisoners of war."

    But court documents suggest that Lindh was treated much as the prisoners later were at Abu Ghraib. Along with nudity and the sleep and food deprivation, Lindh was allegedly threatened with death. One soldier said he "was going to hang." Another "Special Forces soldier offered to shoot him."

    At other times, soldiers took photos and videos of themselves smiling next to the naked Lindh, another image eerily similar to the Abu Ghraib photos.

    Such actions appear to be in violation of the Geneva Convention, which requires that prisoners have adequate clothing, food and sleep and not be threatened or subjected to degrading treatment.

    ...​

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-prison9jun09,1,3173753.story
     
  2. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #2
    There's no excuse for that crap. "It's the 90% of sleazy lawyers that give the other 10% a bad name." Powell's words were just way too mild.

    In a combat situation, were I commanding troops and I had a prisoner whom I reasonably believed had information about an ambush, I'd not ask anything of any of my men. I'd take the onus for however I, myself, got the information I thought was needed to save the lives of my men. My responsibility. But, outside that (to me) extreme and quite specific situation, no prisoner should suffer the sort of treatment as described in the article.

    None of the people involved, from Rummy on down, would want me on any jury or courtmartial board...

    'Rat
     
  3. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #3
    Can't say I disagree with much of that....
     
  4. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #4
    This all sounds like a verification of the story Seymour Hersh wrote a month ago. IIRC the administration said he was crazy at the time. Seems to be another case of the Bushies lying and misleading to cover their derrière.
     
  5. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #5
    When all this first started coming out, I flat-out couldn't believe it. It's not the America I know; it's not the Army I know. I guess the better word is "knew".

    I don't see this as worse treatment than some of what was done in Vietnam, but there seems to have been a lot more of it. "Institutionalized" is the despicable word which seems to apply. In 35 years we've gone from tacit approval to specific approval.

    That sucks.

    'Rat
     
  6. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #6
    Perhaps George W. Bush isn't the person you know either....
     
  7. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #7
    Perhaps, mac. However, IMO, it would be a far greater change for him than for such as Cheney or Rumsfeld. SFAIK. Of course, my opinion of Dubya is biased by his record in Texas, and some of the personal background about how he dealt with people on a day-to-day basis. That's generally favorable.

    The sadder part is that there were no public resignations from the Pentagon multi-stars over this. Hackworth's idea that the Perfumed Princes care more for their perks than for the military system's health seems apropos.

    I'd like to know who these lawyers were who "interpreted" the various laws and treaties and Conventions/Accords.

    'Rat
     
  8. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #8
    One of them is now a circuit court judge. :mad: Bybee is his name IIRC.
     
  9. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #9
    Too bad that this is all going to be forgotten in the "Let's Remember Ronnie" celebration.

    I might have disagreed with a lot of what Reagan did and stood for, but the man did seem to have a sense of honor - arms for hostages notwithstanding, perhaps.

    It is just wrong for a president who - denials aside - clearly knew of what was going on in terms of prisoner treatment and interrogations to try to shield himself behind a man who would have at least showed some real (or at least believable) righteous anger at something like that. Wrong, but not unexpected.
     
  10. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #10
    jsw, I don't think it will be forgotten. Trying to hide behind a Reagan shield won't cut it; Rove's already in deep doo-doo over the ads. I do think we'll be entering into a somewhat slow phase of investigation and processing. Those wishing instant gratification won't be happy, of course.

    I dunno about the NeoCons, but conservative folks in general find "honor" to be a meaningful word, which means serious trouble for the administration and all those directly involved in this degradation...

    'Rat
     
  11. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #11
    Honor isn't a concept understood exclusively or even more thoroughly by individuals of any given political philosophy. If it were, we wouldn't have seen these policies formulated at the highest levels of our government, let alone implemented. We also would not have experienced all of this prevarication and efforts to place the blame on the lowest level people. Honor? I'll know it when I see it, even though I'm not one of the "conservative folk."
     

Share This Page