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Torture's Bad Seeds
Sands writes: "The Bush administration has always taken refuge behind a 'trickle up' explanation: that is, the decision was generated by military commanders and interrogators on the ground. This explanation is false. The origins lie in actions taken at the very highest levels of the administration--by some of the most senior personal advisers to the president, the vice president, and the secretary of defense."
Haynes is turning out to be a key figure in all this. But it probably would be a mistake to see him as much more than a pliant tool in the service of Addington, Cheney's cutthroat enforcer. As
As Jane Mayer wrote in The New Yorker in February 2006: "In 1989, when Cheney was named Secretary of Defense by George H. W. Bush, he hired Addington as a special assistant, and eventually appointed him to be his general counsel. Addington, in turn, hired Haynes as his special assistant and soon promoted him to general counsel of the Army.
"After George W. Bush took office, Addington came to the White House with Cheney, and Haynes took his boss's old job at the Pentagon. Addington has played a central part in virtually all of the Administration's legal strategies, including interrogation and detainee policies. The office of the Vice-President has no statutory role in the military chain of command. But Addington's tenacity, willingness to work long hours, and unalloyed support from Cheney made him, in the words of another former Bush White House appointee, 'the best infighter in the Administration.' One former government lawyer described him as 'the Octopus'-his hands seemed to reach into every legal issue.
"Haynes rarely discussed his alliance with Cheney's office, but his colleagues, as one of them told me, noticed that 'stuff moved back and forth fast' between the two power centers. Haynes was not considered to be a particularly ideological thinker, but he was seen as 'pliant,' as one former Pentagon colleague put it, when it came to serving the agenda of Cheney and Addington."
Here's more from Mayer in her July 2006 New Yorker profile of Addington: "Addington created a system to insure that virtually all important documents relating to national-security matters were seen by the Vice-President's office. The former high-ranking Administration lawyer said that Addington regularly attended White House legal meetings with the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency. He received copies of all National Security Council documents, including internal memos from the staff. And, as a former top official in the Defense Department, he exerted influence over the legal office at the Pentagon, helping his protégé William J. Haynes secure the position of general counsel. A former national-security lawyer, speaking of the Pentagon's legal office, said, 'It's obvious that Addington runs the whole operation.'"
In his prepared statement for today's hearing, former Navy general counsel Alberto J. Mora, who fought a private battle within the Pentagon to maintain longstanding interrogation rules, writes that "our Nation's policy decision to use so-called 'harsh' interrogation techniques during the War on Terror was a mistake of massive proportions. . . . This interrogation policy -- which may aptly be labeled a 'policy of cruelty' -- violated our founding values, our constitutional system and the fabric of our laws, our over-arching foreign policy interests, and our national security."
Mora reminds us: "The United States was founded on the principle that every person -- not just each citizen -- possesses certain inalienable rights that no government, including our own, may violate."
And he says the cost has been paid in American lives: "[T]here are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq -- as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat -- are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo."
The McClatchy Detainee Series
In the third part of a major McClatchy Newspapers series on detainees, Tom Lasseter writes: "A McClatchy investigation found that instead of confining terrorists, Guantanamo often produced more of them by rounding up common criminals, conscripts, low-level foot soldiers and men with no allegiance to radical Islam -- thus inspiring a deep hatred of the United States in them -- and then housing them in cells next to radical Islamists. . . .
"Guantanamo became a school for jihad, complete with a council of elders who issued fatwas, binding religious instructions, to the other detainees."