Friday, March 11, 2005


Government of Men, Not Laws

Rather than admit in open court that they cannot legally justify holding many of Guantanamo Bay's current inmates - the Pentagon plans on shipping them off to places where they can be kept away from such "quaint" concepts as justice, including spots the US State department itself criticized for routinely torturing prisoners:
Pentagon Seeks to Transfer More Detainees From Base in Cuba

Published: March 11, 2005

WASHINGTON, March 10 - The Pentagon is seeking to enlist help from the State Department and other agencies in a plan to cut by more than half the population at its detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in part by transferring hundreds of suspected terrorists to prisons in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Yemen, according to senior administration officials.

The transfers would be similar to the renditions, or transfers of captives to other countries, carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency, but are subject to stricter approval within the government, and face potential opposition from the C.I.A. as well as the State and Justice Departments, the officials said.

Administration officials say those agencies have resisted some previous handovers, out of concern that transferring the prisoners to foreign governments could harm American security or subject the prisoners to mistreatment.
...Transfers have been approved by the State Department to countries including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, identified in the department's own human rights reports as nations where the use of torture in prisons is common.
(Source: New York Times (Emphasis added.)

Is there no end to the outrage?

Meanwhile, the Defense Department's internal investigation seems to conclude superior officers are not responsible when subordinates torture prisoners:
Report on prisoner abuse raises questions of accountability
By Frank Davies
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - A new report on the interrogation of prisoners in the war on terrorism, released Thursday by the Defense Department, prompted senators to question whether senior civilian and military leaders will be held accountable for abusive treatment.

Vice Adm. Albert Church, the Navy's former inspector general, defended his report as a "thorough, exhaustive look" at 71 "substantiated cases of abuse" involving about 120 detainees held in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

Church told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a lack of guidelines and oversight, bad planning and a slow response to Red Cross warnings of abuse contributed to the mistreatment of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq.

...He said he agreed with a key finding of the independent report by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger last year that abuses were "widespread," and that "there is both institutional and personal responsibility at higher levels."

Church added, however: "I was not tasked to assess personal responsibility at senior levels."
Critics of the inquiries into prisoner abuse charge that the Bush administration and the Pentagon have sidestepped the issue of "command climate." They ask whether the push for better intelligence encouraged lower-ranking soldiers to regard prisoners as sub-human and treat them harshly. Many also ask why investigators have all but ignored the military principle that senior officers are always accountable for their subordinates' actions.
Human Rights Watch, which monitors prisoner abuse worldwide, criticized the report as a "whitewash." Church, at a later briefing at the Pentagon, said some people "were just unhappy with the findings."
Source: Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau March 10, 2005 (Emphasis added.)


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