Thursday, April 23, 2009

A depressing timeline

I'll stop with this for a few days. But this what I've put together from the recently released "Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainess in U.S. Custody" report put out by the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

Sep. 11, 2001 - you know

Dec. 2001 - Dept of Defense general counsel's office solicits information on "exploitation" of detainees from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) - a unit whose mission was to train Americans how to withstand interrogation techniques considered illegal under the Geneva Conventions.  JPRA trains personnel to withstand torture based on the techniques used by Communist China to "elicit false confessions during the Korean war", including stress positions, nudity, disrupting sleep, treatment like animals, loud music, extreme temperatures.  This training also "included waterboarding".

Feb. 7, 2002 - Bush signs a memo stating that the 3rd Geneva Convention did not apply to al Qeada or the Taliban.

Mar 28, 2002 - Abu Zabayah (a high-ranking Al Qaeda member) is captured

Spring, 2002 - "Members of the Presidents Cabinet and other senior officials attended meetings in the White House where specific interrogation techniques were discussed." This includes Condoleezza Rica, George Tenet, and Donald Rumsfeld.

July, 2002 - the JPRA provides the department of Defense with documents including lists of physical and psychological pressures used in their training, and a memo from a psychologist assessing the long-term effects of the training.  The deputy counsel of the department of defense confirms that they obtained this information so that they could "reverse engineer"  the torture techniques that we were training our troops to resist

August 1, 2002 - Justice department issues the two memos used to justify the legality of waterboarding and other torture techniques. They were issued after consultation with Alberto Gonzales (White House Counsel) and David Addington (Counsel to the Vice President).

August, 2002 - Abu Zubayah is waterboarded 83 times in a month.

Sept. 11, 2002 - Ramzi Binalshibh (the "20th hijacker" of 9/11) is captured

Oct. 2, 2002 - Jonathan Freedman, chief counsel for the CIA's Counterterrorist Center, attends a metting of Gitmo staff. Mr. Freedman says in the meeting, regarding the legality of the torture techniques - "It is basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies you're doing it wrong."

Late 2002 - early 2003 - U.S. Army psychiatrist Major Charles Burney testifies that during this time period interrogators were under pressure to provide evidence of a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.  "The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link...there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results."

Oct 11, 2002 - Maj. Gen. Michael Dunlavey, commander at Gitmo, requests authority to use "aggresive interrogation techniques" including waterboarding, hooding, deprivation of light and sound, and stress positions (which, you'll remember, we had copied from Communist China to train our troops to resist).

Nov, 2002 - a series of memos are produced by different elements in the military raising concerns that they were being asked to violate the law and torture detainees.

Dec 2, 2002 - Donald Rumsfeld signs onto a recommendation by department of defense chief counsel Jim Haynes that Gitmo interrogators be allowed to torture. Haynes' recommendation indicates that he had discussed the issue with Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith - deputy and under secretaries for Defense. The legal basis for Hayne's recommendation is based on what military lawyers considered "legally insufficient" legal analysis. Rumself signs the recommendation - including a comment in the margins "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?" in regards to 'stress positions'.

Dec 30, 2002 - Two Navy instructors from the JRPA arrive in Gitmo and conduct a session explaining the torture techniques to personnel there. They explain to the personnel that these techniques were developed by the Communist Chinese dictatorship to elicit false confessions.

Jan 15, 2003 - In response to a memo by Navy general counsel Alberto Mora that questioned the legality of the interrogation, and suggesting that it was torture, Rumsfeld rescinds authority for the the interrogation techniques he signed on Dec. 2nd, 2002. Rumsfeld establishes a working group to review the techniques.

March 1st, 2003 - Khalid Shiek-Mohammed, the planner of the 9/11 attackes, is captured.   During this month - he is waterboarded 183 times. That is not quite 6 times a day.  Note that this torture begins immediately upon capture - not after a period in which we tried normal interrogation techniques first. We *started* with the torture.

Mar 14, 2003 - The working group Rumsfeld set up on Jan 15th rejects the opinions of senior military officers and counsels in favor of a legal opinion from Justice Department's John Yoo.  Yoo states that criminal laws do not apply to military interrogations and that the Dept. of Justice could not prosecute the interrogators, in his opinion.

March 20th, 2003 - Citing the existence of weapons of mass destruction (since shown to be false) and a tie between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein (elicited as false confessions from detainees being tortured) President Bush orders the invasion of Iraq. To date, approximately 4,500 Americans have lost their lives. The estimated Iraqi death toll from invasion and inter-sect warfare since the invasion is close to 1,000,000.

August , 2003 - an email from staff headquarters of the Joint Task Force in Iraq (responsible for prisoners and intelligence) requests that subordinate units provide a "wish list" of interrogation techniques, and stated "the gloves are coming off" and "we want these detainees broken".  Also in August, a team from Gitmo arrives in Iraq to train the Joint Task Force interrogators on the new techniques.

Sep 14, 2003 - Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez approves the use of stress positions, sleep deprivation, and the use of dogs in interrogations.

Late 2003 - Interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq torture detainees.  The commander of Abu Ghraib at the time, Janis Karpinsky, estimates that "90% of the detainees were innocent".

Early 2004 - 60 Minutes and the New Yorker publish the pictures from Abu Ghraib and several of the staff are court martialled.

We. Tortured. People.  Repeat that with me. We. Tortured. People.

This did not make us safer - it led to an ill-fated invasion of a country that, while despotic, posed no clear and present danger to the U.S..

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