Chris Anders: The Watchdog Bites at the Torture Administration

At last. A report from the Justice Department that is on the correct side of the torture issue. Yesterday morning, the Inspector General of the Justice Department posted a long-awaited report on the FBI's role in interrogations (PDF)—and how the rest of the Bush administration swept aside the concerns of FBI agents who complained about the CIA and Defense Department using torture.

Torture and America

The report does not reflect any change of heart for Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Instead, the Inspector General is the internal watchdog, the only office in the Justice Department that isn'tcontrolled by the Bush Administration politicos.

The stunning 370-page IG report is a tour-de-force of new facts about perhaps the most serious, deliberate, and systematic plan to violate due process and human rights in our nation's history. For anyone who still believes that the torture seen at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo was simply the work of a few bad eggs, reading just two or three pages—almost any two or three pages in the lengthy report—will show that torture was a widespread and deliberate practice.

Written in a Washington version of a stream-of-consciousness style, with facts packed together but without any real themes or much organization, there are important revelations and many nuggets of new truths throughout the report. Things you can learn by flipping through the report include:

  • the first government report ever to identify Condoleezza Rice asplaying a role in the torture issue describes then-Attorney General JohnAshcroft expressing his concerns about a particular interrogation withthen-National Security Advisor Rice
  • regular meetings of the White House National Security Council PolicyCoordinating Committee (then chaired by Rice's top lawyer JohnBellinger) in which top Justice Department Criminal Division managerstold about FBI agents reporting abuse of detainees and explainingconcerns about "gravely damaging . . . the rule of law" at Guantánamo,
  • a meeting held in the office of then-Criminal Division chief MichaelChertoff with the current Criminal Division chief Alice Fisher (whoresigns her job this Friday—is this a coincidence?) and a top FBIofficial with Chertoff saying that he believed that abusiveinterrogations would make it hard to ever use the evidence in court,even if FBI "clean teams" later got the same admissions through legalmeans,
  • a report of FBI agents who kept their records of torture and abusethat they observed in a file called "War Crimes",
  • page after page after page showing that, despite critical reports fromFBI agents filtering all the way up to the White House and to FBIDirector Mueller himself, no one putting a stop to it or actually tryingto enforce the laws that they were charged with enforcing.

The Inspector General collected lots of facts, but now it's left to allof us to unpack his report—and to demand that Congress and the nextpresident get to the bottom of who did what on torture, whether crimeswere committed, and make sure that a special counsel will decide that,where warranted, any crimes are criminally prosecuted.

There's no better read this upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

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No better read indeed! June 26th, the day the House Judiciary Committee again convenes on this topic, is also the International Day Against Torture (anniversary of the U.N. Convention Against Torture going into effect). We can do a lot of letter writing if we've all read this by then.

Sam Doctors

I continue to be puzzled as to why the leadership in this Administration of is not under indictment for a variety of crimes against humaity as well as criminal violations of our Constitution.

There is an important need for impeachment trials whether or not there is still time for trial in the Senate for the President, the Vice President and a large number of other officials

It does the country no good to avoid this essential function of any society that considers itself to be law abiding. High office is no excuse for criminality!!

Sam Doctors

Not sure what "moderation" means in this case. Moderation in the defense of our laws is no benefit to the country or its citizens

Sam Doctors

Are you censoring my comments. What happened to my 1st amendment rights?

Steven Bonilla

Why can we not get justice in America, but yet the ACLU is fighting for non US citizen rights?Imagine loosing your freedom for simply writing a formal complaint against an police officer and then having your freedom takin away for it, I was.I want justice,you have no idea how it feels!!!

William Gruzenski

Why have state hospitals in PA turned to top-down torture when it comes to the admittance of certain patient groups. The term 'Hospitopia' is becoming more and more explicit. Administrators don't run hospitals; politicians with no experience do. And they want their statistics to shine keep posted to watch the numbers game. Is it dirty to admit the people with HIV, or Alcohol abuse or polysubstance abuse or sexual abuse? Perhaps the hospital looks like a college campus, but are the taxpayers getting their worth by excluding them from care (the intellectually deficient, the autistic)? Sherlock Holmes once said:"When faced with the impossible, consider the improbable." The new Utopia dressed up as Hospitopia. And you think we're advancing medical care?

R. J.

The help is DESPERATIVELY NEEDED. Each day, the Dept. of H&H Services churns out millions of new Medicare I.D. cards for thousands of us who have reached 65. We MUST carry the card in our wallet/purses to get the benefits paid over a lifetime.

Each of thse bears our social securty number followed by the letter "A." Each of us is acutely vulnerable to I.D. theft if we are robbed, if someone steals a medical record with this "ID number" etc. Coupled with a DOB, that's all a thief needs.

I have personally pleaded with Secretary Leavitt to immediately issue an order using a substitute number for my "account number" on my card and for others. He has refused.

Bush signed a bill prohibiting SS#s to be displayed on Driver's Licenses but each day, as indicated, his administration allows the printing of thousands of Medicare cards with social security numbers on them.

HR3046 is pending, but by its own terms, it will not even be 'effective" for one year after the bill is signed into law. It isn't even through Congress as of this date.

It will come too late for millions of us Americans who are now 65 and may, each day, need to sign up for supplemental and medigam SS benefits--all using our "account number" on our Medicare cards.

PLEASE, will the ACLU enter this matter and see what it can do. The most direct approach would be to request Bush to immediately issue an "Executive Order" REQUIRING Leavitt at Health & Human Services to immediately use pseudo numbers instead of SS #s on all MEDICARE cards.

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