“You could almost see their dicks getting hard as they got new ideas." A Vanity Fair reporter investigates the chain of command that tossed out the Geneva Conventions and instituted coercive interrogation techniques -- some might call them torture or even war crimes -- in Bush's Global War on Terror. UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo's now-obsolete 81-page memo to the Pentagon in 2003 [available as PDFs here and here] was crucial, offering a broad range of legal justifications and deniability for disregarding international law in the name of "self-defense." Others say that Yoo was just making "a clear point about the limits of Congress to intrude on the executive branch in its exercise of duties as Commander in Chief." [previously here and here.]
The administration's latest innovation in its effort to export democracy: Soviet-style gulags, a network of secret C.I.A. prisons known as "black sites." [From the Washington Post]. Meanwhile, SecDef Rumsfeld says no thanks to the idea of U.N. inspectors talking to detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
A year after the Abu Ghraib photos were widely circulated, and a few days after most of the low-ranking officers blamed were let off, Human Rights Watch releases a report clearly implicating the entire chain of command, and strongly urges the investigation of Donald Rumsfeld and George Tenet. (Full report here) Just some bad eggs, eh?
Consider Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, military defense attorney, now representing Salim Ahmed Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni who admits he was a driver for Osama bin Laden, a prisoner at Guantanamo since 2002. He was transferred to solitary confinement in December in preparation for trial, but no trial date has been set. He has been told the trial will be fair but that evidence may be withheld from him, and his lawyer must ask the government's permission before revealing any facts of the case. He can seek redress only up the chain of command--in other words, to the people who decided he should be charged in the first place. Swift has filed lawsuit in Federal District Court in Seattle against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush, arguing not only that Hamdan is an innocent civilian, but that the military tribunal President Bush's administration created to try him is unconstitutional. Also, he says, the tribunal rules violate military law and the Geneva Conventions. If the government is right and Hamdan cannot use this legal avenue, "the logical result" is that Hamdan "could serve a potential life sentence without ever being charged with a crime and without being afforded a chance to prove his innocence," legal filings state. (More Within)