Former Iraq interrogator Mathew Alexander says protect our troops, stop torturing others:
If We’re Going to Reveal More Memos
By Mathew Alexander
Former VP Dick Cheney has requested the release of additional memos showing that torture and abuse saved American lives by preventing terrorist attacks. If the Obama Administration decides to release these memos, then I suggest they also release statistics from Iraq showing the number of foreign fighters that were recruited because of our policy of torture and abuse. It was tracked. I know because I saw the slides and because I heard captured foreign fighters state this day in and day out. The government can also release the statistics that show that 90% of suicide bombers in Iraq were these same foreign fighters. These foreign fighters killed hundreds, if not thousands, of American soldiers.
After these revelations, Americans can judge whether or not a policy of torture and abuse kept us safe. Unfortunately, we’ll never be able to evaluate the damage that was done to past or future interrogations. As I experienced firsthand, detainees were less likely to cooperate when they viewed us as hypocrites. We can’t establish the trust that is required to convince a detainee to cooperate unless we live up to the principles that we preach.
I had one detainee in Iraq, a previous Al Qaida fighter, who provided me with all the information he knew willingly without me having to run an interrogation approach. He told me that Al Qaida had accused him of being a mole and tortured him before we rescued him. He then proceeded to say that the reason he was going to cooperate was because we didn’t torture him and because of that, he knew everything that he’d been told about us by Al Qaida was wrong.
Before 9/11, the protection of American soldiers from terrorist attacks was a priority for our country. Consider our responses to the Beirut Bombing, Khobar Towers, and the USS Cole. When we talk about keeping Americans safe from terrorist attacks, we need to include all Americans, especially those that serve in uniform.
May 15th, 2009
Glenn Greenwald explains the problems with Obama’s decision to break his word and create new military commissions:
What makes military commission so pernicious is that they signal that anytime the government wants to imprison people but can’t obtain convictions under our normal system of justice, we’ll just create a brand new system that diminishes due process just enough to ensure that the government wins. It tells the world that we don’t trust our own justice system, that we’re willing to use sham trials to imprison people for life or even execute them, and that what Bush did in perverting American justice was not fundamentally or radically wrong, but just was in need of a little tweaking. Along with warrantless eavesdropping, indefinite detention, extreme secrecy doctrines, concealment of torture evidence, rendition, and blocking judicial review of executive lawbreaking, one can now add Bush’s military commission system, albeit in modified form, to the growing list of despised Bush Terrorism policies that are now policies of Barack Obama.
In response to Obama’s statememt today, Greenwald updated his article:
Obama’s just-issued statement announcing his support for military commissions is here. I said most of what I think is worth saying about this, but I’ll just add the following:
(1) Can anyone reconcile Obama’s statement today with his August, 2008 statement that we should prosecute accused terrorists ”through our courts and our Uniform Code of Military Justice,” or with the above-excerpted criticisms of Bush’s military commissions?; (2) Obama doesn’t even bother to argue any reasons why we cannot try accused terrorists in our already-extant court system; (3) for those who want to claim that Bush’s torture prevents obtaining convictions in a real court, Obama is purporting to bar the use of evidence obtained via torture, so how would his military commissions address that problem any better than real courts would?; (4) during the Bush era, civilian courts had a far better record of convicting accused terrorists than military commissions did, including convictions of Jose Padilla, Ali al-Marri, Richard Reid, John Walker Lindh, and Zacharais Moussoui, at least three of whom (Padilla, al-Marri and Lindh) were severely mistreated; if we could convict them in real courts, why can’t we convict the other accused terrorists who are actually guilty? (5) if the state is willing to accord due process only when it is guaranteed that it can win, but then creates a new system of diminished due process whenever it believes it cannot win, the guarantee of due process, for rather obvious reasons, becomes completely illusory (“we’ll give due process as long as we’re sure we can win, and if we can’t, we’ll give you something less”).
May 15th, 2009