Numerous Bush Admin officials committed crimes involving the torture of prisoners captured in the Middle East

Dandelion Salad

by Sherwood Ross
Global Research
July 10, 2008

At least a score of high Bush Administration officials authorized, and hundreds of U.S. military and other government employees committed, crimes involving the torture of prisoners captured in the Middle East, published reports and legal documents indicate.

Indeed, any impartial probe of the widespread abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody could go well beyond the handful of prison guards who have been arrested and tried to date. The list would include top White House officials who designed the torture policies and Pentagon flag officers who executed them. It would include CIA officials and their contract pilots and immigration personnel involved in abducting suspects to be tortured as well as foreign officials who turned suspects over to U.S. authorities for torture. It would include doctors, nurses, and paramedics who abetted interrogators in torture and the civilian contractors of the Department of Defense (DOD) who tortured inmates.

In his May 8, 2004, radio broadcast, President Bush deplored “shocking conduct in Iraqi prisons by a small number of American servicemen and women.” But he added, “We will learn the facts, the extent of the abuse, and the identities of those involved. They will answer for their actions.” As that’s the case, let’s begin, starting at the top.

President Bush himself bears primary responsibility for torture for his arbitrary February 8, 2002, suspension of the Geneva Conventions that protect prisoners. This action set the tone for the prison scandals that shocked the conscience of the world with the publication in 2004 of the bizarre prisoner abuse photographs from Abu Ghraib near Baghdad .

As for Vice President Dick Cheney, he’s been described by retired Army Colonel Larry Wilkerson, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff, as the man who provided “the philosophical guidance that led to the torture of detainees.” Wilkerson, who quit the State Department in January, 2005, said he didn’t fault Cheney for wishing to keep America safe “but he’ll corrupt the whole country to save it.”

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and his former Undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz, both authorized torture practices. When Bush nominated Wolfowitz as World Bank boss, Legislative Counsel Christopher Anders of the American Civil Liberties Union lamented, “As privates and sergeants are getting jail time, top level officials are getting promoted.” Human Rights First (HRF) has charged Rumsfeld with direct responsibility for torture. And the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) named Rumsfeld one of 10 defendants in a criminal complaint filed in Karlsruhe, Germany, for brutal acts of torture at Abu Ghraib.

CCR Vice President Peter Weiss said CCR filed its complaint in Germany “because there is simply no other place to go” as USA refuses to join the International Criminal Court, and Iraq has no authority to prosecute. Under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction suspected war criminals may be prosecuted anywhere.

Apparently, Rumsfeld did not put the military on the torture track without internal opposition. Then U.S. Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora, now retired, put up a diligent fight, according author Jane Mayer of The New Yorker. On December 2, 2002, Rumsfeld formally okayed coercive punishments such as “hooding,” “stress positions,” “exploitation of phobias,” “deprivation of light and auditory stimuli” and other tactics long forbidden by the Army Field Manual, Mayer wrote.

One torture victim was Saudi detainee Mohammed al-Qahtani, a terrorist suspect arrested in Afghanistan in connection with the 9/ll skyjackings. According to Mayer, he was stripped and shaved, put in an isolation pen under artificial lights for 160 days, kept in a cold room, interrogated for up to 20 hours at a stretch, deprived of sleep, straddled by female guards, forced to wear a bra and women’s underwear on his head, put on a leash and threatened by dogs, taunted that his mother was a whore, and forced to listen to blaring pop music.

It was Rumsfeld who appointed Dr. Stephen Cambone, the Defense Undersecretary who gave the orders to “soften up” Iraqi prisoners. Cambone told Major General Geoffrey Miller, former Guantanamo commandant, to go to Iraq to “Gitmo-ize” the interrogation process. Miller reportedly said, “You have to treat them like dogs” and okayed use of stress positions “for agonizing lengths of time,” according to reporter Seymour Hersh. Cambone is named in the CCR complaint for his role in “creating a secret operation program whose mandate included committing war crimes.”

One form of torture begins with “extraordinary rendition.” Alleged terror suspects have been abducted by the CIA and flown to be tortured (and/or murdered) in Egypt , Saudi Arabia , Syria , Morocco , Jordan and Uzbekistan , etc. The practice was begun around 1996 under President Clinton and vastly expanded by President Bush after 9/11. Sandy Berger, Clinton ‘s National Security Council director, and counterterrorism boss Richard Clarke, have been identified as having approved extreme rendition. Clinton , of course, is also culpable. Right now, Italy would like to lay its hands on 22 C.I.A. agents who three years ago abducted Milan resident cleric Hassan Osama Nasr for torture in Egypt .

CIA pilots involved in extraordinary rendition flights, as well as their boss, former CIA Director Porter Goss and CIA ex-counter-terrorism chief Cofer Black should be called to account. Recall Goss asked Congress to exempt CIA operatives from any law banning torture and Black told Congress, “After 9/11, the gloves came off.” Any European officials who transferred suspects to the CIA are culpable.

One human rights consortium said last April it has documented the involvement of over 600 U.S. military and civilian personnel for the abuse and torture of 460 detainees.

A spokesman the Detainee Abuse and Accountability Project, Professor Meg Satterthwaite of NYU Law School, said “detainee abuses were widespread, and few people have truly been brought to justice.” Added Tom Malinowski, of Human Rights Watch, one of the participating groups, “We’ve seen a series of half-hearted investigations and slaps on the wrist.”

As ex-President Carter writes in “Our Endangered Values”(Simon & Schuster) the “superficial investigations” into torture conducted by the Pentagon “have made it obvious that no high-level military officers or government officials will be held accountable…”

USA may be holding 11,000 prisoners in Iraq , Afghanistan , and at Guantanamo , Cuba , Human Rights First says. So far, more than 100 prisoners are said to have perished in U.S. custody. Captives include 800 Pakistani boys aged 13-15, some of them tortured, the International Red Cross has charged.

A key architect of the “new paradigm” torture policy is ex-White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales, now Attorney General, author of a torture memo in January of 2002. He dismissed the Geneva Conventions banning torture as “quaint.”

His predecessor, Attorney General John Ashcroft, told Bush the Conventions outlawing torture did not apply to Taliban detainees. The CCR sued Ashcroft on behalf of Canadian citizen Maher Arar, who was abducted to Syria and tortured. Immigration and Naturalization Service(INS) and FBI agents who arrested Arar at JFK Airport and put him on a plane to Syria are culpable.

In addition to Ashcroft, the CCR suit cited Larry Thompson, Acting Attorney General said to have signed the rendition order; FBI Director Robert Mueller; J. Scott Blackman, regional INS director; Edward McElroy, then INS director for the New York City district; and INS Commissioner James Zigler.

High Bush aides responsible for torture include Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, who on August 1, 2002, drafted what became known as the “torture memo.” Also, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff who, when head of Justice’s criminal division, advised the CIA it was okay to use water torture.

Other law violators include John Yoo, now a University of California professor, who advised Bush the Geneva Conventions did not apply to detainees; Jack Goldsmith, who drafted the torture policy for Gonzales when he headed Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel; David Addington, Cheney’s top lawyer and a principle author of a White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects; Douglas Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy who had oversight for Abu Ghraib and like prisons; and former Pentagon general counsel William Haynes II, author of memos rationalizing torture.

That such policy memos were translated into action was established by Human Rights Watch, which reported prison interrogators in the Baghdad area got a lecture from military lawyers saying Geneva Conventions did not apply and torturing was legit.

Among military officers involved in torture are:

# Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, U.S. senior commander in Iraq for about a year starting in June, 2003. His memo of September 14, 2003, authorized use of interrogation techniques such as dogs, isolation, and stress positions. Major General Walter Wojdakowski was his deputy commander in charge of an involved military intelligence brigade and is one of those named in the CCR criminal complaint. And Major General Barbara Fast, cleared by the Army of any wrongdoing, served as chief of intelligence for Sanchez.

# Colonel Thomas Pappas, head of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, was in charge of Iraq prisons and therefore responsible for what took place. He is also named in the CCR suit for torture “amounting to war crimes.” Lieutenant Colonel Steve Jordan, of 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, is said by CCR to even have witnessed one detainee’s death caused by his subordinates’ mistreatment.

# Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, with direct charge for Abu Ghraib and subsequently demoted to colonel, admitted to violation of the Geneva Conventions by holding so-called “ghost detainees” in secret. Sanchez, Pappas, and Karpinski are named in an ACLU complaint. Also, Captain Carolyn Wood, who oversaw interrogation at Bagram prison and approved the use of dogs and stress positions.

# Lt. General William Boykin reportedly advised Cambone to use water torture and to humiliate captives via religious taunting. Participating doctors, nurses, and paramedics who aided torturers at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere would be culpable as well.

# Air Force General Counsel Mary Walker, who headed a Rumsfeld working group on interrogation guidelines, rationalized that some criminal conduct was “not unlawful.”

# Lt. Colonel Stephen Jordan, former supervisor of interrogators at Abu Ghraib was named in the CCR complaint as having “clear knowledge” of ongoing abuses, and Lt. Colonel Jerry Phillabaum, commander of a military police battalion that oversaw Abu Ghraib was said by CCR to have failed to report war crimes.

# CCR also filed a class action suit in Federal court against Titan Corp. of San Diego and CACI International of Arlington, Va., and three of their employees, Stephen Stefanowicz and John Israel of CACI, and Adel Nahkla of Titan for abuses Abu Ghraib. Plaintiffs said they were hooded and raped, stripped naked and urinated on, prevented from praying, beaten with chains and boots, and forced to watch their father tortured to death. CACI has strongly denied the charges.

Title 18 of the U.S. Code makes it a crime for an American to commit torture “outside the United States ” and authorizes fines and prison terms of up to 20 years. If deaths result, those convicted may be jailed for life or executed. HRF has charged as of April, 2005, 108 foreign detainees had died in U.S. custody.

CCR President Michael Ratner said, “the existence of ‘torture memos’ drafted by administration officials and the authorization of techniques that violated humanitarian law by Secretary Rumsfeld, Lt. General Sanchez and others make clear that responsibility for Abu Ghraib and other violations of law reaches all the way to the top.”

Calling for an investigation, Amnesty International’s Jumana Musa, warned, “Torture thrives on impunity. By not holding accountable the people who drafted and implemented the policies, the US government is giving a wink and a nod to torturers world wide.”

Sherwood Ross is an American reporter and public relations consultant who has worked for major dailies and as a wire service columnist. To comment on this article or arrange for speaking engagements:

© Copyright Sherwood Ross, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is:

21 thoughts on “Numerous Bush Admin officials committed crimes involving the torture of prisoners captured in the Middle East

  1. Pingback: Nader Lauds Kristof Truth Commission Proposal « Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: Rep Nadler (D-NY) Judiciary on War Crimes & Impeachment « Dandelion Salad

  3. Pingback: Terror, Torture, and the Dark Side (videos) « Dandelion Salad

  4. Please pardon my very short sighted knowledge of businesses and the economy. I just watched an hour video of Nader at a rally. He is a good man, one who could have a powerful affect if he could ever hold an elected position. Maybe McCain or Obama could use him as a cabinet member. Do you think he’d last long in that position?

    He may have his plans for the future reversed. He should focus on how educating us to affect business’ success rather than his campaign to become president of a government “owned by corporations.” As a former teacher, I can definitely see a trend in business fixing our failing educational system. They really are tired of trying to find qualified workers.

    With all of his knowledge, he neglects the fact that American quality of life is pretty damned good and has been getting better, since corporations were built up. I still think they are the power behind our economy, not the government.

    Although there is greed and irresponsibility involved in some companies that should be stopped, I don’t think they are an enemy of the people. Millions of people depend on them for their job security, and business depends upon people having jobs to buy their products.

    Finally, corporations would rather have more people working and making a fair wage than jobless and on welfare simply so more money can be made. I just don’t believe that anyone becomes poor as others get rich because of capitalism.

  5. Thanks Dandelion,

    I certainly can agree with you that no vote is wasted for those who vote, and it is a disgrace, not just wasteful, only if you do not vote.

    If only there was a way to get those third (party) candidates into the general media. Unfortunately, In the case of Nader, he’s not “simple” enough for the masses to understand him. (ex. “Corporate Fascism” is way over the intellectual minds of most American voters who are looking for simple answers AND be entertained at the same time.) Whether he did or did not “spoil” elections (Probably not.), he undoubtedly cancelled a lot of votes that causes voters to think Bush might have been defeated. (I believe that he is more liberal socially, and closer to a Socialist economically. Consequently, Gore would have gained a significant number of his votes had he not run.

    Specifically, I don’t agree with his attacks on big business. I trust them to keep the economy healthy more than the government, who simply wants a piece of the pie through regulations and taxes. Even if he might have the answer for a better stable economy, he needs his enemies (big business) to support him which won’t happen.

    But generally I have decided not to vote for him or the other third party candidates because I want my vote to at least count for the sure possible winner. I’ll be thinking about you and respecting your idealism ESPECIALLY if it looks like the 2008 election is as close as 2000, hoping too that there won’t be another 8 year political war on the home front.

  6. It’s never a wasted vote if you vote for the best candidate. We need Ralph and Bob Barr and McKinney in the debates so millions can have the opportunity to hear from those in the third parties.

    Here are some of my favorite Nader posts and ones that address the “stolen” election(s):

    Interview: Ralph Nader Says We’re Living Under Corporate Fascism (link)

    Nader did not “spoil” the 2000 election (videos)

    In Defense of Ralph Nader by peacelf

    In defense of Ralph Nader (video)

    The past two presidential elections were indeed stolen, but not by Nader, hardly.

  7. Dandelion,
    Both Obama and McCain seem to be at least speaking for themselves not their parties. I like that, giving me hope that things will indeed change regardless. Unfortunately, some things never change. Ralph Nader is still a wasted vote, who was responsible for getting Bush elected (maybe twice). For the first time, I feel like I’m looking at candidates that will force Congress to follow a leader who won’t make excuses for getting nothing done because of party gridlock. Obviously I have supported cowboy Bush for having done what I feel has and will bring about positive results (even for a terrible price, and a pile of “misinformation”). And I also feel they need to start thinking as leaders on an international level. We are ready to show the world how diverse citizens can get along and get things done, but racists, feminists, the media, and Congress can’t accept that. That said, let’s get together and move forward.

  8. Sorry about that, I changed it to read “I”. I need new glasses but can’t afford to buy them.

    I’m planning on voting Independent in the presidential race. Ralph Nader!

  9. That’s Vote (I) (for Independent). Both parties seem to have hog tied voters by their influence, leaving us to truly effect this next election due to the schisms. I see too much race, gender or party affiliation (pride) other than here. At least there’s food for thought. Sorry Mr. Salad.

  10. Vote I, don’t presume to know me by reading a post written by someone else on my blog.

    Thanks, Natureboy! I edited your last comment to put in a link to the same post you suggested. Have had Internet connection difficulties so I’m in the process of catching up at the moment. 18 hours of no Internet, I have a lot to catch up on.

  11. Pingback: Countdown: War Crimes Prosecutions Possible « Dandelion Salad

  12. Lou,

    First of all, you cannot commit war-crimes.
    Torturing is a war-crime under Geneva and the UN.
    You wanna refute the rule of law, then you are advocating a lawless state.

    Second: There is a reason people are “Innocent until proven guilty”. Until you have assembled evidence, tried and convicted, you cannot punish. What you are advocating is punishing before trying, which is something Milosovic, Hitler & Pinochet would do. Is that whom you want to emulate?

    Never forget that the cutting off of heads were a hideous crime, but they were not an act of war by any sovereign nation. You have the right to arrest those individuals you suspect, and to indict and prosecute, but detaining and torturing those whom you may suspect may be involved or associated with crimes is no excuse for detaining political prisoners without a trace, torturing them in secret prisons, etc.

    Suggest you see the movie ‘rendition’ for an idea of what can go wrong with such a policy, warcrimes notwithstanding. Not all those detained and tortured have been likely guilty. In fact you have no idea who they’ve detained, and what they’ve done to them, because it’s all covert.

    Further, think for a minute about Pinochet, and Chile, a regime installed with the backing of the USA and Kissinger (the same guy who ordered the illegal carpet-bombing of Cambodia paving the way for Pol Pot, the arch horror-monger of all time).

    In Chile in the 1970’s after the coup, any political dissenters were rounded up, disappeared, and detained in a soccer stadium known as Estadio Chile.

    In there people were REALLY tortured, fingers cut off, electrocutions, rapes, ultimately killed, diasppeared, dumped from airplanes over the ocean. What was their crime? Were they terrorists? Mostly they were intellectuals, artists, musicians, etc. who had supported their democratically elected president allende, before the USA aided Pinochet in overthrowing Allende, assinating him, and installing a ruthless military dictator (so the USA spreads democracy, eh?).

    By your logic, each and every member of Pinochet’s regime should be detained, waterboarded and given the full-force of the same sort of thing you advocate for whomever the CIA thinks might be guilty of collaborating with the Taliban.

    And by your logic, anyone harboring such individuals, or sponsoring or financing them should also be similarly treated.

    That being the case, why are you not advocating the rounding up of each and every member of Pinochet’s regime, including their sponsors in the CIA, including Kissinger himself, and doing whatever to them (“who cares, look what they did to others” you’d say). And perhaps you’d have a point under your mode of justice-

    But then a logical point is that you are promoting a double-standard. You are outraged when fanatical psychopaths cut off the heads of a few hostages, and justifiably so. But where were you when your own USA did these horrible things to thousands upon thousands of innocents??

    And why would you then likely advocate the war in Iraq when Iraq committed no crime against the USA?

    Were all the victims of your Iraq war, the innocents who’ve born the brunt of the sacrifice in the hundreds of thousands, far in excess of anything Saddam ever did, are you not responsible for ‘torturing’ them with fear, terror, death and destruction? Is not then the USA, in acting militaristically against a people of no threat to them, guilty of terrorism on a grand scale?

    And by your own rules of “who cares what happens to the terrorists”, are the innocent sufferers of illegal US wars of agression not justified in feeling vindictive against the USA for committing the same acts of murder, but a million times over??

    Think on these things…

  13. Why Mr. Salad, how did you know that I was a Christian? As one who believes we should love everyone as Jesus does, it is impossible to know of what torture He would approve, but one thing I do know… He died for all mankind, including myself, so I would know that my (sinful) humanity has been forgiven and paid for. That means for me, I should be looking out for the welfare of all mankind. Consequently, I would put myself at risk to protect innocent people against those who would destroy them in the name of any religion including my own. Although Jesus was ready to die, rather than be defended by Peter’s SWORD. (Maybe Jesus wore one too.) I am not Jesus and would defend even you from terrorists that would rather die as a “martyr” than be captured and imprisoned.

    Let’s talk about evil that we have no control over. Is chemotherapy a torture that Jesus allows? It actually reminds me of collateral damage. I also know that there are evil people (maybe like yourself) who would allow terrorists to live and fight another day. If is wrong, what tortures me are people like you who have spent the last five years trying to pin crimes against the Bush administration when all they want to do is to prevent those who would kill you from doing so. So stop torturing me! My point is that torture is relevant and happens all the time, and as far as i know, Jesus allows it.

    Funny, but I even have something in common with terrorists, If Jesus allowed for Himself, I can take it. Torture me. Kill me for my cause to protect innocents. Terrorist expect nothing less for a chance to wipe me out.

    How’s that sermon for your short comment?

  14. Pingback: Book Cites Secret Red Cross Report of C.I.A. Torture of Qaeda Captives « Dandelion Salad

  15. Bunk, Bunkie! People caught in the act of terrorism were not tortured before they committed their acts and should expect nothing less from those who need to know information that will STOP future terrorism. Our troops have been trained to stand between innocent people and the enemy whenever possible. Our enemy deliberately stands behind innocents as human shields, hoping they will be hurt before themselves. (that is unless they can create mass destruction via suicide). They must be stopped by any means as long as innocent lives are at stake!

    Don’t project your revulsion and disrespect on others. Our country is respected BECAUSE we are not so weak we need to fight with our hands tied while prisoners remain alive and well with information that we can use to SAVE lives.

    Who the hell is Cynthia McKinney? Thanks to Bush, we have become more prepared to protect ourselves from global enemies, not just nationalist who were and are and will be trying to kill us. Thank God there are those who continue to look beyond your myopic world.

  16. There is no excuse for torture. We have lost our humanity. This kind of treatment creates terrorism, this kind of treatment IS terrorism. It really pisses me off that these offenses are done “in our name”. Once a respected country, we are now reviled. It is also unfathomable that anyone can actually see/hear/read about these human rights abuses and defend those responsible. “Who are we and what have we become” are the words of the great Cynthia McKinney.

  17. Interesting use of the word “animals” as I believe we have laws against torturing animals. Too bad we don’t also have (or uphold) laws against torturing people.

    What happened to “innocent before proven guilty”?

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    And my very favorite:

    The Golden Rule
    “That which is hateful to you do not do to another … the rest (of the Torah) is all commentary, now go study.”

    – Rabbi Hillel

  18. These people were cutting off the heads of Americans, perhaps if it was you husband, wife or child you would be less likley to write this crap. I don’t give a shit what they do to these people. They are animals and should be treated as such.

Comments are closed.