Let’s see if I have the chain of events that led to this searing SASC report on American use of torture techniques on prisoners in order here:
1. A doctrine against torture was championed by the US for decades, including through codification proceedings for Geneva Conventions and other international treaties that we helped enact as a preventative measure against our own troops and those of our allies being tortured. Because torture is bad and wrong. We know this from farther back than George Washington’s day, and he set the standard that American troops would not torture British captives. This has been US military standard as codified in the UCMJ for years.
2. The Chinese and North Koreans torture captured American troops during the Korean conflict.
3. In order to prepare elite US covert ops troops to resist such techniques, they are reverse engineered so that some training — in a highly controlled, limited environment with safety considerations built in as preparation for potential torture — can be done.
4. At this point, torture is still something evil done by rogue nations (others) against the fighters for truth, justice and the American way (us).
5. 9/11 occurs.
6. SERE techniques are asked to be reverse-engineered as interrogation techniques to be used against US captives. (No one bothers to ask where we got them?)
7. Through some craven mind trick, legal justification for torture is written up despite torture being illegal under US and international law in the very treaties that the US wrote only a few decades ago. Administration officials and their political allies defend it vociferously.
8. Because it’s not torture because Dick Cheney says so.
I don’t even know what to say to something so
searingly SEREingly illogical. And evil.
So I’ll leave it to the Senate Armed Services Committee report to explain implications:
The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of "a few bad apples" acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies and compromised our moral authority.
Much more on this to come today.
We’ll have Nathaniel Raymond from PHR here for a live chat at 3 pm ET/12 pm PT today, and Jameel Jaffer from ACLU’s National Security Project tomorrow afternoon at 3 pm ET/12 pm PT. Mark your calendars.
Please take a moment to sign our petition to AG Holder for legal investigation of these matters.
(YouTube — former State Dept. lawyer Phillip Zelikow on Rachel’s show discussing the OLC torture memos.)