On July 30th a federal judge ordered the release of Mohammed Jawad, a former Guantánamo detainee represented by the ACLU, and was originally detained at roughly the age of 13. It was determined that his confession to throwing a grenade that injured 2 US soldiers was obtained under torture by Afghani Police, and therefore not usable in court. This sparked a renewed interest by the Justice Department into the treatment of detainees, but limited to cases handled by the CIA.
To everyone’s great surprise this inquiry unearthed some rather erie Justice Department memos outlining acceptable forms of torture. The Rachel Maddow Show highlights some particularly horrendous “abuses” found in the sparsely declassified sections of the report, including: mock executions used to frighten detainees, water boarding an individual 183 times, a pressure point technique that restricted the flow of oxygen to the brain, a report of detainee beaten to the point of death, threats against the children of detainees and a threat that a detainee’s mother would be raped in front the detainee.
How could such horror occur? Thank God we have our liberal pragmatic messiah committed to Judicial oversight, international law, and diplomacy. After all, one of Obama’s first moves in office was to announce the closing of Guantánamo, a move that Cheney fiercely denounced in town hall meetings across the country. Yet, something went awry with Obama’s commitment to ending the horrors of the Bush-Cheney years. He seemed to have inadvertently enabled the continuation of torture by defining detainees as “products of counterterrorism operations rather than of armed conflict.” Now Obama and the Justice Department are alleging to investigate illegal uses of torture, however, perhaps because of some sort of very clever Bush-Cheney specter, torture is still widespread and legal!
What happened?! Well, Obama has actually only outlawed detention centers operated by the CIA under a non short term/transitional basis (whatever that means), while additionally leaving open the potential for torture in any military or privately contracted detention center. Obama and Eric Holder, the Attorney General, are not questioning torture as a reliable method of obtaining confessions, but rather specific non prescribed torture tactics such as the staging of mock executions. Last time I checked the Geneva conventions did not allow for water boarding someone over a 100 times and outsourcing particularly horrendous torture tactics to privately contracted defense forces.
All of this amounts to little more than a liberal facelift of Bush policies. The Justice Department may release innocent people based on flimsy evidence, but it has little interest in prosecuting those who committed torture or even in ending torture in our current “counter terrorist” operations.