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cal04 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 09:54 PM
Original message
Rejection Of Prison Abuse Was Sought
Administration Was Reluctant, Groups Say

After reports emerged in 2002 of abuses in military detention facilities, human rights groups repeatedly pressed the White House and the Pentagon to issue a presidential-level statement renouncing the cruel and unusual treatment of prisoners and detainees. Administration officials initially balked, issuing letters from low-level officials that drew the line at condemning torture.

Finally, after intense internal debate, the White House released on June 26, 2003, a statement by President Bush that not only condemned torture but also said the United States would "prevent other cruel and unusual punishment." The administration, however, never followed up with a plan to enforce the statement. The Pentagon, in fact, approved interrogation procedures that human rights groups say directly contradict the statement issued in Bush's name.

The handling of the 2003 torture statement spotlights what until recently had been the Bush administration's reluctance to forcefully reject the kind of abusive tactics that have been at the heart of the scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to human rights groups, congressional officials and former administration officials.

Despite pressure from human rights groups and European allies, the administration has been unwilling to tie the hands of the CIA and the military in interrogating detainees, a key tool in its effort to break al Qaeda and quell the insurgency in Iraq, these officials said. While willing to acknowledge the relevance of the Geneva Conventions to traditional wars between nations, the administration showed little interest in weakening tactics that officials saw as necessary for dealing with dangerous thugs.

Those familiar with the internal debate say it was unclear whether senior officials were driven by a disdain for international law or a fear that such a statement might someday come back to haunt the administration. For months, a former U.S. official said, the administration had "stiffed" human rights groups. "There was always great reluctance from the Pentagon and the White House counsel's offices, from people who were opposed to issuing a statement," the official said.

Human rights advocates say the failure to enforce a strong anti-torture position suggests that the White House and Pentagon officials were not serious about dealing with allegations of prisoner abuse in the first place.

"Personally, I feel burned," said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director of Human Rights Watch. "I feel they were being disingenuous. They put out a statement that gave us everything we wanted. But it was not translated into changes in interrogation policy, and the United States is paying a tragic price for that."

During a February 2003 meeting, William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon's general counsel, scolded the human rights officials, saying the United States does not torture and accusing the groups of cheapening the notion of torture, recalled Holly J. Burkhalter, U.S. policy director of Physicians for Human Rights.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A30214-20...
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ewagner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 09:59 PM
Response to Original message
1. This is just toooooo good:
During a February 2003 meeting, William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon's general counsel, scolded the human rights officials, saying the United States does not torture and accusing the groups of cheapening the notion of torture, recalled Holly J. Burkhalter, U.S. policy director of Physicians for Human Rights.

Here we have the Pentagon's general counsel caught in a direct lie.

In terms of exposing this group for the lying liars they really are, it just doesn't get much better than this.

Thanks for the Post post. :p
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hedda_foil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 10:39 PM
Response to Original message
2. Takes it right inside the White House too!
Those familiar with the internal debate say it was unclear whether senior officials were driven by a disdain for international law or a fear that such a statement might someday come back to haunt the administration. For months, a former U.S. official said, the administration had "stiffed" human rights groups. "There was always great reluctance from the Pentagon and the White House counsel's offices, from people who were opposed to issuing a statement," the official said.

Human rights advocates say the failure to enforce a strong anti-torture position suggests that the White House and Pentagon officials were not serious about dealing with allegations of prisoner abuse in the first place.

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