Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! It is an ever-fix'd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken
--Sonnet 116, Shakespeare
Shakespeare may have been speaking of love, but he was saying that it was an unvarying and inflexible quality. It did not become something else at the whim of the observer. The real deal was not fickle. This constancy could also be applied to our allegiance to certain invaluable foundational documents, like the Constitution. As Shakespeare might say, "the star to every wandering bark."
Unfortunately, this steadfastness has gone missing recently in the conduct of our national agencies, according to a 437-page Federal Bureau of Investigation's "war crimes file" recently released by the Department of Justice's Inspector General. The New York Times
says the report shows "internal dissent and confusion within the Bush administration over the use of harsh interrogation tactics (aka "torture"
) by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency (see the DoJ report here
To say the "Report Details Dissent on Guantánamo Tactics," is misleading since claims of prisoner mistreatment are not localized. Prisoner abuse went viral years ago, and has approached pandemic proportions. Torture is now an accepted U.S. policy tool for questioning terror suspects. As many FBI reports said, if these detainees were to be designated Enemy Prisoners of War (EPW's), the interrogators would be liable for prosecution.
The so-called "confusion" was based upon George Bush's erroneous philosophical stance that "everything changed after 9-11." Wrong, because the laws that bind all Americans are and will remain the same. If such a day comes that they do change, we are no longer America.
In one report, military interrogators collaborated with visiting Chinese officials to disrupt the sleep of Chinese Muslims held there.
"In another incident, it said, a female interrogator reportedly bent back an inmate’s thumbs and squeezed his genitals as he grimaced in pain."
The report cited "passionate objections" from the FBI over practices like inmate intimidation with snarling dogs, "short-shackling" to floors in temperature extremes and parading the prisoners nude before female soldiers. The report also commends the FBI for its "professionalism," but of course, that is not the concern -- "legality" is the only standard of import.
The FBI is an operational agency of the DoJ; if the DoJ does not object to the prisoner abuses, then the FBI's objections are just dust in the wind.
Terrorism is a legal issue, not a military one. If it were a war issue then the Department of Defense should deal with the intelligence requirements of warfighting. The CIA is a civilian intelligence agency distinct from the DoD, or at least is used to be before its militarization with the appointment of 4-Star nut-twister Michael Hayden.
There should be a national level policy regarding the topic of terrorism. Terrorism needs to be defined, along with an appropriate and proportional response to terrorist incidents. Is it war or is it criminal activity? It cannot be both.
Terming counter-terrorism "warfare" legitimizes criminals and waters down U.S. legal responses to the threat. Conversely, committing to a legal response does not negate the possibility of implementing actions to break up attack scenarios before they reach the execution phase. If U.S. policy cannot live within the confines of the law, how can we villanize terrorists for their illegal activities? How one defines terrorism should not depend on which side of the fence you're on.
In the old lead agency concept of terrorism counteraction, the FBI was the lead CONUS agency. This FBI primacy has become murky since Homeland Security (HS) has assumed the umbrella function. The breakdown is one of organizational hierarchy and responsibilities. The FBI and DoJ are experiencing an organizational disconnect.
Who is the lead agency in terrorist cases? Ask 20 people and you will get 20 different answers.
HS has clouded versus clarified the organizational functions of historical relationships. Lacking a clear definition of responsibility, the issue has morphed into a game of hot potato (or should we write, potatoe, since a lot of Republicans have shaped this confusion.)
No one wants to take the fall, that's for sure. The report notes that some DoJ believed military coercive techniques were "wrong," while others thought them merely "ineffective," and unlikely to garner actionable intelligence.
But Wrong and Illegal are two very different concepts. Emily Post would say it is "wrong" to wear white shoes after Labor Day -- who cares? Illegal is another level. The fashion police cannot throw you in jail; break actual laws and you will go to jail.
The issue of torture outstrips expeditiousness. Today, if it is effective,no one seems to care that an action may be illegal. But the pragmatic business model should not be used when the integrity of our nation is at stake.
The Constitution is an "ever-fix'd mark," and should not be at the whim of the junk bond trader mentality.
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Labels: department of justice report on Guantanamo abuses, fbi war crimes file, gitmo abuse