Duped About Torture

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, April 21, 2008; 1:04 PM

Career military men know better than anyone that torture violates American principles, puts American soldiers at risk and just plain doesn't work. But when the White House adopted torture as an interrogation tactic, senior military officials didn't resist.

One reason, of course, is that many who might have objected to Vice President Cheney's torture cabal were bypassed or moved out of the way. Others just followed orders.

But a new report suggests that at least one man who couldn't be entirely bypassed -- and who should have known better -- fell victim to another tactic: He was duped.

Richard Norton-Taylor writes in the Guardian: "America's most senior general was 'hoodwinked' by top Bush administration officials determined to push through aggressive interrogation techniques of terror suspects held at Guantánamo Bay, leading to the US military abandoning its age-old ban on the cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners, the Guardian reveals today.

"General Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff from 2001 to 2005, wrongly believed that inmates at Guantánamo and other prisons were protected by the Geneva conventions and from abuse tantamount to torture. . . .

"In his new book, Torture Team, Philippe Sands QC, professor of law at University College London, reveals that:

"* Senior Bush administration figures pushed through previously outlawed measures with the aid of inexperienced military officials at Guantánamo.

" * Myers believes he was a victim of 'intrigue' by top lawyers at the department of justice, the office of vice-president Dick Cheney, and at Donald Rumsfeld's defence department.

" *The Guantánamo lawyers charged with devising interrogation techniques were inspired by the exploits of Jack Bauer in the American TV series 24.

"* Myers wrongly believed interrogation techniques had been taken from the army's field manual."

Here's an excerpt from the Philippe Sands book, on the Guardian Web site, full of details about how the torture decisions were made, how they were carried out in Guantanamo, and how the tactics migrated to Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Sands also has an article about torture in the May 2008 issue of Vanity Fair.

Was Myers at Fault?

Phillip Carter, in his washingtonpost.com blog, calls attention to Sands's deduction that Myers may have been eminently dupe-able: "He hadn't pushed for these new techniques, but he didn't resist them, either. He didn't inquire too deeply."

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