Friday, September 17, 2004

I Do News, Too

The Iraq Survey Report is coming soon and, like the Bible, it seems to contain whatever one wishes to find in it:

According to people familiar with the 1,500-page report, the head of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, will find that Saddam was importing banned materials, working on unmanned aerial vehicles in violation of U.N. agreements and maintaining a dual-use industrial sector that could produce weapons.

Duelfer also says Iraq only had small research and development programs for chemical and biological weapons.

As Duelfer puts the finishing touches on his report, he concludes Saddam had intentions of restarting weapons programs at some point, after suspicion and inspections from the international community waned.

After a year and a half in Iraq, however, the United States has found no weapons of mass destruction — its chief argument for going to war and overthrowing the regime.


Of course, because of U.N. sanctions, "banned materials" could mean damn near anything, but that won't stop morons from saying, "a-ha! plutonium!"

***

The Guardian has posted excerpts from Seymour Hersh's new book:

By the autumn of 2003, a military analyst told me, the extent of the Pentagon's political and military misjudgments in Iraq was clear. The solution, endorsed by Rumsfeld and carried out by Cambone, was to get tough with the Iraqi men and women in detention - to treat them behind prison walls as if they had been captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan. General Miller was summoned to Baghdad in late August to review prison interrogation procedures.

Rumsfeld and Cambone went a step beyond "Gitmoizing", however: they expanded the scope of the SAP, bringing its unconventional methods to Abu Ghraib. The commandos were to operate in Iraq as they had in Afghanistan. The male prisoners could be treated roughly and exposed to sexual humiliation.

"They weren't getting anything substantive from the detainees in Iraq," the former intelligence official told me. "No names. Nothing that they could hang their hat on. Cambone says, I've got to crack this thing and I'm tired of working through the normal chain of command. I've got this apparatus set up - the black special-access programme - and I'm going in hot.

[snip]

Military intelligence personnel assigned to Abu Ghraib repeatedly wore "sterile", or unmarked, uniforms or civilian clothes while on duty. "You couldn't tell them apart," a source familiar with the investigation said. The blurring of identities and organisations meant that it was impossible for the prisoners, or, significantly, the military policemen on duty, to know who was doing what to whom and who had the authority to give orders.

By last autumn, according to the former intelligence official, the senior leadership of the CIA had had enough. "They said, 'No way. We signed up for the core programme in Afghanistan - pre-approved for operations against high-value terrorist targets. And now you want to use it for cab drivers, brothers-in-law, and people pulled off the streets.'" The CIA balked, the former intelligence official said: "The agency checks with their lawyers and pulls out," ending those of its activities in Abu Ghraib that related to the SAP. (In a later conversation, a senior CIA official confirmed this account.)

The CIA's complaints were echoed throughout the intelligence community. There was fear the situation at Abu Ghraib would lead to the exposure of the secret SAP, and thereby bring an end to what had been, before Iraq, a valued covert operation. "This was stupidity," a government consultant told me. "You're taking a programme that was operating in the chaos of Afghanistan against al-Qaida, a stateless terror group, and bringing it into a structured, traditional war zone. Sooner or later, the commandos would bump into the legal and moral procedures of a conventional war with an army of 135,000 soldiers."

In mid 2003, Rumsfeld's apparent disregard for the requirements of the Geneva convention while carrying out the war on terror had led a group of senior military legal officers from the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps to pay two surprise visits within five months to Scott Horton, who was then chairman of the New York City Bar Association's Committee on International Human Rights. "They wanted us to challenge the Bush administration about its standards for detentions and interrogation," Horton told me in May 2004. "They were urging us to get involved and speak in a very loud voice. [ ... ] The message was that conditions are ripe for abuse, and it's going to occur." The military officials were most alarmed about the growing use of civilian contractors in the interrogation process, Horton recalled. The JAG officers told him that, with the war on terror, a 50-year history of exemplary application of the Geneva convention had come to an end.


Well, Rummy thinks big: if you're gonna defecate on the Geneva Conventions, why not go whole hog and torture children?

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