Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Why did this take so long to come out?

While it was no surprise to anyone with more than a dozen neurones and an eye on the news (in particular, Sy Hersh's work), we just have this just in:
In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, sources tell ABC News.

The so-called Principals who participated in the meetings also approved the use of "combined" interrogation techniques -- using different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time -- on terrorist suspects who proved difficult to break, sources said.

Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.

The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.

At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

As the national security adviser, Rice chaired the meetings, which took place in the White House Situation Room and were typically attended by most of the principals or their deputies.
So why did this take so long to come out?

Simple answers to simple questions:

They knew what they were doing was wrong, and they didn't want anyone to know they did this. Nope, it was "just a few bad apples" that did the dirty work....

Don't believe me? Try this (from later in the article):
According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."
OK? Clear now?

(h/t to commentator AnnieW over at Glenn Greenwald's blog)


At 12:24 AM, Blogger Fraud Guy said...

I wonder if they were concerned about this little tidbits:

Art 131. No High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contracting Party of any liability incurred by itself or by another High Contracting Party in respect of breaches referred to in the preceding Article.

And the preceding Article is:

Art 130. Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the Convention: wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, compelling a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of the hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a prisoner of war of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in this Convention.

I forget; the deaths of how many detainees were ruled as homicides?

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Jim White said...

Thanks for this, Arne. I'm especially intrigued by the evidence that Rice was pressing them to go ahead after Goldsmith got uneasy about it. Do you suppose the timing of this is related to the increased chatter about Rice as McCain's running mate?

At 7:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also have to wonder about the timing of this article.

It does help Yoo a little bit on making him seem like a small fry, it hurts Powell right when he starts defending Obama and it makes it less likely that Rice would have a shot at YP.

History will not be kind indeed.


At 9:34 AM, Blogger Arne Langsetmo said...

Jim: I agree with Annie. I think that Condi as McCain's running mate won't help the ticket (and in part because of this).

But there are those on the right, looking for any edge they can get, that think that maybe Condi would help counter a female or black Democratic candidate by offering both. Clueless as ever, they don't understand either their own base, or the voters they think they could attract with such. These people still think that Dubya's the best thing since sliced bread, the Iraq war is a Glorious Quest, and that the country's in fine shape. But that is just the 28% "dead-enders", and even some of these would find it hard to pull the lever for a black (who's also of "suspect" conservatism). Most of the country doesn't see things this way, or Dubya protégé Condi as anything less than incompetent.

One thing I'm curious about, though: Why don't these Condi backers put forth her real asset to the ticket: That she'd bring her husband back into the the administration, where he could, as her advisor, effectively serve a third term.....



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