20
Aug
08

America’s War on Terrorism: War Criminals in High Office

Part 4: The New World Order

Chapter 15
War Criminals in High Office

Under the Bush administration, torture has become an official US Government policy. The orders to torture POWs in Iraq and Guantanamo emanated from the highest governmental levels. Prison guards, interrogators in the US military and the CIA were responding to precise guidelines.

The President directly authorized the use of torture including “sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc.”(1)

This authorization was confirmed in a secret FBI email dated May 22, 2004. The latter indicated that president Bush had “personally signed off on certain interrogation techniques in an executive order.”(2)

Another FBI email dated December 2003, described how military interrogators at Guantanamo had impersonated FBI agents,”to avoid possible blame in subsequent inquiries”, and that this interrogation method had the approval of (former) Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz:

[The email] describes an incident in which Defense Department interrogators at Guantánamo Bay impersonated FBI agents while using “torture techniques” against a detainee. The e-mail concludes: “If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD interrogators will not be held accountable because these torture techniques were done [sic] [by] the ‘FBI’ interrogators. The FBI will [be] [sic] left holding the bag before the public.”(3)

The document also stated that no “intelligence of a threat neu-tralization nature” was garnered by the “FBI” interrogation, and that the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF) believes that the Defense Department’s actions have destroyed any chance of prosecuting the detainee. The author of the e-mail writes that he or she is documenting the incident “in order to protect the FBI”.(4)

A third incriminating FBI email dated June 25, 2003 entitled “Urgent Report”:

showed that the Sacramento field office warned the FBI director that it had received testimony of “numerous physical abuse incidents of Iraqi civilian detainees”, including “strangulation, beatings, and place-ment of lit cigarettes into the detainees’ ear openings”. Other documents reported incidents such as detainees being dropped onto barbed wire, having Israeli flags wrapped around them, spat on and knocked unconscious, and shackled until they defecated on themselves.(5)

The evidence also confirmed that the US military was also involved in “mock executions” and the application of burning and electric shocks to detainees.(6)

Moreover, while several dozen detainees died in US custody, the records of these deaths were tampered with and the autopsy reports in many cases were not conducted, with a view to concealing the acts of torture.(7)

Abu Ghraib

The 2004 Abu Ghraib Taguba investigation (as well as two other reports) commissioned by the US military into “inhumane interrogation techniques” had exempted Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and of course, President Bush, of any wrongdoing or involvement.[8]

Despite the evidence, the reports placed the blame on lower rank servicemen and commanders in Iraq:

Several US Army Soldiers have committed egregious acts and grave breaches of international law at Abu Ghraib/BCCF and Camp Bucca, Iraq. Furthermore, key senior leaders in both the 800th MP Brigade and the 205th MI Brigade failed to comply with established regulations, policies, and command directives in preventing detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) and at Camp Bucca.(9)

The conclusion of the report was that command directives to prevent the occurrence of torture were not followed.

In other words, the reports not only denied the existence of official US policy guidelines on torture (e.g.. the August 2002 and March 2003 memoranda), they stated that the directives were explicitly “not to torture POWs” and that command orders had been disregarded. Their conclusions should come as no surprise, since Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had approved the conduct of these investigations.

Following the investigation, Brigadier General Janice Karpinksi in command of the military police unit at Abu Ghraib was suspended, whereas several lower rank servicemen and women were subjected to court martial procedures.

Court martial procedures were, therefore, initiated on the orders of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when in fact it was Donald Rumsfeld and the President who had issued the Executive Order to torture the POWs.

War criminals in high office thus ordered the holding of these show trials, which essentially served to camouflage a systematic policy of torturing POWs, in violation of the Geneva convention, while also exempting these officials in high office from prosecution.

Torture is “Un-American”

President Bush “apologized” following the release of the Abu Ghraib photos in May 2004:

People in Iraq must understand that I view those practices as abhor-rent. … They must also understand that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know. … There will be investigations, people will be brought to justice.(10)

Rumsfeld also apologized in a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee:

We didn’t, and that was wrong, … So to those Iraqis who were mistreated by members of the US armed forces, I offer my deepest apology.(11)

The Legalization of Torture

Torture is permitted “under certain circumstances”, according to an August 2002 Justice Department “legal opinion”:

if a government employee were to torture a suspect in captivity,”he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the Al Qaeda terrorist network,” said the memo, from the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel, written in response to a CIA request for legal guidance. It added that arguments centering on “necessity and self-defense could provide justifications that would eliminate any criminal liability” later.(12)

Even if an interrogation method might arguably cross the line drawn in Section and application of the stature was not held to be an unconstitutional infringement of the President’s Commander in Chief authority, we believe that under current circumstances [since the “war on terrorism”] certain justification defenses might be avail-able that would potentially eliminate criminal liability.(13)

A subsequent Department of Defense Memorandum dated March 2003 drafted by military lawyers, leaked to The Wall Street Journal, follows in the footsteps of the August 2002 “legal opinion”:

Compliance with international treaties and US laws prohibiting torture could be overlooked because of legal technicalities and national security needs.(14)

These “legal opinions” are casually presented as a surrogate for bona fide legislation. They suggest, in an utterly twisted logic, that the Commander in Chief can quite legitimately authorize the use torture, because the victims of torture in this case are “terrorists”, who are said to routinely apply the same methods against Americans.

New “Legal Opinion”: Torture is no longer Un-American

Coinciding with the release of the incriminating FBI memos in mid December 2004, the Justice Department ordered the drafting of a new “legal opinion” on so-called “permissible US military interrogation techniques” to replace that of August 2002:

[Attorney General] Gonzales “commissioned” the infamous Justice Department memo of 2002 that asserted President Bush’s right to order torture, even redefining the meaning of torture not to include any pain short of organ failure, death or permanent psychological damage. This prompted other legal decisions approving such inter-rogation practices as “stress positions” and intimidation with dogs, leading then to the abyss of abuses at Abu Ghraib.(15)

The Criminalization of Justice

“Legal opinions” drafted on the behest of war criminals are being used to “legalize” torture and redefine Justice.

War criminals legitimately occupy positions of authority, which enable them to redefine the contours of the judicial system and the process of law enforcement.

It provides them with a mandate to decide “who are the crim-inals”, when in fact they are the criminals.

In other words, what we are dealing with is the criminalization of the State and its various institutions including the criminaliza-tion of Justice.

The truth is twisted and turned upside down. State propaganda builds a consensus within the Executive, the US Congress and the Military. This consensus is then ratified by the Judicial, through a process of outright legal manipulation.

Media disinformation instills within the consciousness of Americans that somehow the use of torture, the existence of con-centration camps, extra judicial assassinations of “rogue enemies”-all of which are happening-are, “under certain circumstances,” “acceptable” and perfectly “legal” because the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) says “it’s legit”.

The existence of an illusive outside enemy who is threatening the Homeland is the cornerstone of the propaganda campaign. The latter consists in galvanizing US citizens not only in favor of “the war on terrorism”, but in support of a social order which upholds the legitimate use of torture, directed against “terrorists”, as a justifiable means to preserving human rights, democracy, freedom, etc.

The Spanish Inquisition

In other words, we have reached a new threshold in US legal his-tory. Torture is no longer a covert activity, removed from the public eye.

War criminals within the State and the Military are no longer trying to camouflage their crimes. Until recently, the logic was “We’re sorry for the torture, we didn’t do it. We’re against torture. Those responsible will be punished.”

The logic in the wake of 9/11 is entirely different and is remi-niscent of the Spanish Inquisition.

Under the Inquisition, there was no need to conceal the acts of torture. In fact, quite the opposite. Torture is a public policy with a humanitarian mandate. “Democracy” and “freedom” are to be upheld by “going after the terrorists”.

“The war on the terrorism” is said to be in the public interest. Moreover, anybody who questions its practices-which now includes torture, political assassination and concentration camps-is liable to be arrested under the antiterrorist legislation.

The Inquisition, which started in the 12th century and lasted for more than four hundred years was a consensus imposed by the ruling feudal social order. Its purpose was to maintain and sustain those in authority.

The Inquisition had a network of religious courts, which even-tually evolved into a system of political and social control.

The great Inquisitor was similar to the Department of Homeland Security.

The underlying principles governing the courts were straight-forward, and apart from the rhetoric, similar to today’s procedures: “You find them and take ’em out”:

[H]eresy cannot be destroyed unless heretics are destroyed and … their defenders and [supporters] are destroyed, and this is effected in two ways: …they are converted to the true catholic faith, or … burned [alive].(16)

Those who refused to recant and give up their heresy, were burned alive. Moreover, no lawyers were allowed, because it was considered heresy to defend a heretic:

A bishop came out and shouted out the names of the condemned. Then the heretics were led out, wearing black robes decorated with red demons and flames. Officials of the government tied them to the stake.

“Do you give up your heresy against the holy church?” a priest would challenge.

Anyone who repented would be strangled to death before the fires were lit. Most, however, stood silent or defiant. The fires were lit, and the square echoed with the screams of the heretics and cheers from the crowd.(17)

The Road towards a Police State

Today’s World is far more sophisticated. CIA torture manuals devel-oped under successive US Administrations are more advanced. The anti-terrorist legislation (PATRIOT Acts I and II) and law enforcement apparatus, although built on the same logic, are better equipped to deal with large population groups.

In contrast to the Spanish Inquisition, the contemporary inquisi-torial system has almost unlimited capabilities of spying on and categorizing individuals.

People are tagged and labeled, their emails, telephones and faxes are monitored. Detailed personal data is entered into giant Big Brother data banks. Once this cataloging has been completed, peo-ple are locked into watertight compartments. Their profiles are established and entered into a computerized system.

Law enforcement is systematic. The witch-hunt is not only directed against presumed “terrorists” through ethnic profiling, etc. The various human rights, affirmative action, antiwar cohorts are themselves the object of the anti-terrorist legislation and so on. Converting or recanting by antiwar heretics is not permitted.

Meanwhile, war criminals occupy positions of authority. The citizenry is galvanized into supporting rulers “committed to their safety and well-being” and “who are going after the bad guys.”

Historically, the Inquisition was carried out in Spain, France and Italy, at the neighborhood level in communities across the land. Today in America, the mission of the Citizens Corps operating at the local level is to “make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism”.

The Citizens Corps in liaison with Homeland Security are establishing “Neighborhood Watch Teams” as well as a “Volunteer Police Service” in partnership with local law enforcement.[18]

When the inquisition came to a suspected area, the local bishop assembled the people to hear the inquisitor preach against heresy. He would announce a grace period of up to a month for heretics to confess their guilt, recant, and inform on others.

If two witnesses under oath accused someone of heresy, the accused person would be summoned to appear. Opinions, preju-dices, rumors, and gossip were all accepted as evidence. The accused was never told the names of the accusers, nor even the exact charges.

The inquisition would collect accusations, where neighbors can be denounced.(19)

Under an inquisitorial system, the Executive Order personally signed by the president to torture becomes a public statement endorsed by the citizenry. It is no longer a secret FBI memorandum.

No need to conceal acts of torture.

The practice of torture against terrorists gains public acceptance, it becomes part of a broad bipartisan consensus.

It is no longer Un-American to torture “the bad guys”.

Under the Inquisition, people firmly believed that torture and burning was a good thing and that torture served to purify society.

We have not quite reached that point. But we are nearly there.

With regard to the Executive order to torture, several media in the US including the Washington Post, condemned Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, calling for his resignation.

They have not, however, acknowledged the fact that torture has for some time been a routine practice of the Military and Intelligence apparatus, since the days of “Operation Condor” and the US sponsored Central American Death Squadrons. The latter were overseen at the time by John Negroponte, who now heads the Directorate of National Intelligence.

What comes next?

When the Justice Department emits a legal opinion stating that the Executive order to torture is “legit”, that means that a legal and political consensus is being built.

In which case, the war criminals in high office, have “the right” to commit atrocities in the name of democracy and freedom. It is no longer necessary for them to lie, to hide their actions or to “say sorry” if and when these actions are brought to public attention.

Under this logic, torture is no longer seen as “Un-American”, as stated by President Bush when the Abu Ghraib photos were first released in 2004.

In other words, under an inquisitorial system, the public does not question the wisdom of the rulers. Citizens are compelled into accepting the political consensus. They must endorse the acts of torture ordered by those who rule in their name. Moreover, politi-cal assassinations are no longer conducted as covert operations. The intent to assassinate is announced, debated in the US Congress, pre-sented as a safeguard of democracy. In turn, the alleged terrorists are sent to concentration camps and this information is public.

Why is Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo, Cuba, public knowledge?

Precisely, to gradually develop, over several years, a broad pub-lic consensus that concentration camps and torture directed against “terrorists” are ultimately acceptable and in the public interest.

When we reach that point of acceptance, of broad consensus, there is no going back.

The lie becomes the truth. “Democracy and Freedom” are sustained through State terror. The police state and its ideological underpinnings become fully operational.

Unseat the Inquisitors

And that is why at this critical juncture in our history, it is crucial for people across the land, in the US, Canada, Europe and around the world, to take an articulate stance on President Bush’s Executive Order to torture POWs.

But one does not reverse the tide by firing Rumsfeld and putting in a new Defense Secretary or by asking president Bush to please abide by the Geneva Convention.

How can one break the Inquisition?

Essentially by breaking the consensus which sustains the inquisi-torial social order.
To shunt the American Inquisition and disable its propaganda machine, we must “unseat the Inquisitors” and prosecute the war criminals in high office, implying criminal procedures against those who ordered torture.

If the Judicial system supports torture, that means we have to dismantle the Judicial.
It is not sufficient, however, to remove the Inquisition’s high priests: George W. Bush or Tony Blair, who are mere puppets.

Increasingly, the military-intelligence establishment (rather than the State Department, the White House and the US Congress) is calling the shots on US foreign policy. Meanwhile, the Anglo-American oil giants, Wall Street, the powerful media giants and the Washington think tanks are operating discretely behind the scenes, setting the next stage in this ongoing militarization of civil-ian institutions.

“Fear and Surprise”

To break the Inquisition, we must break the propaganda, fear and intimidation campaign, which galvanizes public opinion into accepting the “war on terrorism”.

—–

TEXT BOX 15.1

Break the Spanish Inquisition
by Monty Python

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Our chief weapon is surprise … surprise and fear … fear and surprise ….

Our two weapons are fear and surprise …and ruthless efficiency….

Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency … and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope ….

I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

… Nobody expects the …um … the Spanish … um … Inquisition.

I know, I know! Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Our chief weapons are … … um … er … Surprise …

Okay, stop. Stop. Stop there-stop there. Stop. Phew! Ah!

Our chief weapons are surprise …blah blah blah. Cardinal, read the charges.

You are hereby charged that you did on diverse dates com-mit heresy against the Holy Church.
Now, how do you plead? We’re innocent.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! [Diabolical Laughter].(20)

—–

Osama bin Laden, Al-Zarqawi are names which are repeated ad nauseam, day after day, identified in official statements as enemies of America, commented on network TV and pasted on a daily basis across the news tabloids.

We must break the big lie.

Fear and Disinformation constitutes the cornerstone of Bush’s propaganda campaign.

Without fear, there can be no inquisitorial social order.

“Code Orange Terror Alerts.”

“The terrorists are preparing to attack America.”

“A terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event [will occur] somewhere in the Western world-it may be in the United States of America-that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event.” (Former CENT-COM Commander Tommy Franks)

“If we go to Red ... it basically shuts down the coun-try", (Former Secretary for Homeland Security, Tom Ridge)

"You ask,'Is it serious?' Yes, you bet your life. People don't do that unless it's a serious situation." (Vice President Dick Cheney)

Notes

  1. See American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), "FBI E-Mail Refers to Presidential Order Authorizing Inhumane Interrogation Techniques", 20 December 2004.
  2. Text of the original FBI Memo dated 15 December 2004, ACLU website
  3. Ibid.
  4. ACLU, op cit.
  5. The Boston Globe, 23 December 2004.
  6. The Washington Post, 23 December 2004.
  7. Ibid.
  8. See also Army Report, Department of Defense, August 2004.
  9. Taguba Report, http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/reports/2004/800-mp-bde.htm.
  10. President Bush, 5 May 2004, interview for the US-funded al-Hurra network and the Al-Arabiya satellite channel, 5 May 2004.
  11. Transcript of Donald Rumsfeld's Statement, Senate Armed Services Committee, 6 May 2004.
  12. Dana Priest and R. Jeffrey Smith, "Memo Offered Justification for Use of Torture Justice Dept. Gave Advice in 2002", Washington Post, 6 June 2004
  13. See complete August 1, 2002 Justice Department Memorandum: http:// http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/dojinterrogationmemo20020801.pdf.
  14. See complete Department of Defense text leaked to the Wall Street Journal at http://news.findlaw.com/wp/docs/torture/30603wgrpt.html.
  15. Observer-Dispatch (Utica, NY), 9 December 2004.
  16. See Constitutional Rights Foundation, http://www.crf-usa.org/bria/bria9_1.htm
  17. Ibid.
  18. See Citizens Corps website at http://www.citizencorps.gov/pdf/council.pdf.
  19. Constitutional Rights Foundation, http://www.crf-usa.org/bria/bria9_1.htm.
  20. Excerpts from the BBC TV Show, Monty Python, The Spanish Inquisition by Monty Python, http://people.csail.mit.edu/paulfitz/spanish/index.html.
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