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General Accuses WH of War Crimes
Adam Zagorin writes for Time: "Despite years of investigation into alleged abuse and death of prisoners in U.S. custody since 9/11, the only Americans held accountable have been the low-ranking 'bad apples' convicted for the worst atrocities at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. No official blame has been assigned to higher-ups for abuses at Guantanamo or in Afghanistan, much less for crimes allegedly committed by U.S. personnel in various secret CIA prisons around the world."
Tim Rutten writes in his Los Angeles Times opinion column: "Apart from understanding how and why the Bush/Cheney administration tricked the American people into going to war in Iraq, no question is more urgent than how the White House forced the adoption of torture as state policy of the United States."
Rutten writes that, along with earlier revelations, "the current Senate investigation has established definitively that the drive to make torture an instrument of U.S. policy originated at the highest levels of the Bush administration -- mainly in the circle that included Cheney, Rumsfeld and Addington. This group had come to Washington determined to implement its theory of 'the unitary executive,' which holds that presidential powers of all sorts have been dangerously diminished since the Vietnam War. The fact that these guys seem to have defined executive branch power as the ability to hold people in secret and torture them pushes the creepy quotient into areas that probably require psychoanalytic credentials."
Rutten, however, has nothing but scorn for the "handful of European rights activists and people on the lacy left fringe of American politics" who are calling for criminal indictments or war-crime trials.
The White House Line
White House spokesman Tony Fratto repeated the official administration position yesterday: "I'm telling you that abuse of detainees has never been, is not, and will never be the policy of this government. The policy of this government has been to take these detainees and to interrogate them and get the information that we can get to help protect this country, which we have been very successful at doing, and we've been very successful at getting the information that has saved lives and prevented attacks on this country and on our allies. . . .
"[W]e do not abuse and we treat detainees humanely and comporting with the law."
Karen DeYoung writes in The Washington Post: "U.S. and Iraqi officials negotiating long-term security agreements have reworded a proposed White House commitment to defend Iraq against foreign aggression in an effort to avoid submitting the deal for congressional approval, Iraq's foreign minister said yesterday.
"The alternative under discussion will pledge U.S. forces to 'help Iraqi security forces to defend themselves,' rather than a U.S. promise to defend Iraq, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said. Although 'it's the other way around,' he said, 'the meaning is the same, almost.'
"Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), one of the most outspoken critics of the proposed agreement, called the change 'a distinction without a difference.' Senior Democratic and Republican lawmakers have questioned whether the accord will constitute a defense treaty requiring congressional ratification and have accused the Bush administration of withholding information on the talks. . . .
"In a document he signed last fall with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Bush pledged 'security assurances and commitments . . . to deter foreign aggression against Iraq that violates its sovereignty and integrity of its territories, waters, or airspace.'
"Under sharp questioning from U.S. lawmakers, the administration has insisted that the agreement will be 'nonbinding' and can be legally signed by Bush without congressional approval."