Monday, March 16, 2009


The employment of torture by the Bush administration, so recently described in numbing detail by Mark Danner writing in the New York Review of Books here is unimpeachable fact.

Danner writes how the United States of America voluntarily became monstrous after 9/11, in the process playing directly into the hands of al Qaeda and those who wished the rest of the world to believe the worst about the country.

Will Danner's article be the straw the finally breaks the camel's back? The camel, in this case, being the current DC ruling class received wisdom that the country only has time to look forward, not revisit the past with inquiries that might return conclusions that those who led the nation gladly made themselves war criminals. And that whether or not torture is proper is merely a political and semantic argument to be waged between the right and left.

Revisiting an old Associated Press piece from 2006, a reader comes across one George W. Bush's many lies and distortions relating to such matters, congruent with Danner's assertion that the President frequently lied to the press and public about the country's use of torture.

"Bush reminds Americans US is at war," reads the story's title.

"For example, Bush cited what he called 'a grisly al Qaeda manual' found in 2000 by British police during an anti-terrorist raid in London, which included a chapter called Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages," reported AP.

This after the US government had already approved and employed the beating and torture of prisoners at black sites.

Back then, DD wrote:

"Upon scanning Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages,' [in the al Qaeda manual] it is found: 'Religious scholars have permitted beating . . . In this tradition, we find permission to interrogate the hostage for obtaining information. It is permitted to strike the non-believer who has no covenant until he reveals the news, information and secrets of his people.'"

In this manner, the United States government invoked the same process, instead employing Jhn Yoo to craft the "torture memo," one arguing that it was proper and legal to torture those captured in the 'war on terror.'

The same manual Bush cited in 2006 as proof of the evil nature of our enemies also contained a chapter on what the jihadist might encounter should he be captured and interrogated.

The manual wrote that captives should expect to be tortured through various methods, including but not limited to being beaten, stripped naked, hung by the hands for long periods of times and having cold water poured over them. These were all methods employed by the US government to torture its captives, all detailed in Danner's account at the New York Review of Books.

However, the al Qaeda manual referred to by George W. Bush in 2006 was written in the late Eighties. It was used to describe what methods of interrogation captives might face if they were caught by other governments in the Middle East, not by the United States of America.

"[Let] no one think that the aforementioned techniques are figments of our imagination, or that we copied them from spy stories," it reads.

"On the contrary, these are factual incidents in the prisons of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and all other Arab countries. Those who follow daily events and read the newspapers and journals would be amazed to learn that."

The United States, as a torturing government, was conspicuously absent from this document. And this was probably because our country was, at the times of its writing, not known to torture its captives like the human rights-abusing regimes of the Arab world.

In 2006 when George W. Bush cited Guideline for Beating and Killing Hostages, it was employed as a fixture in a manipulative political argument. It was September and just before mid-term Congressional elections. It was pulled out to make the veiled argument that Democrats were weak when it came to defending the country from terrorists, that they did not understand the nature of the threat.

What we now understand clearly is that the US under the Bush administration beat its prisoners using the same corrupt reasoning employed by those who wrote Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages many years before in a different country.

"If you doubt the threat of terrorist aggression you are not only fools, but you deserve the destruction that you receive as your reward for non-vigilance," wrote some anonymous guardian, angry that the hypocrisy had been pointed out here.


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