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Wednesday, September 06, 2006


No more torture? Read the fine print.

Headlines are touting the new Department of Defense "manual" which bans torture of all prisoners, be they "real" prisoners of war or part of the completely extra-legal, Bush team-invented, media and Democrat-accepted category of "unlawful combatant." No more torture, right? Read the fine print (when it's there; on most broadcast versions of the story, and even in some print versions, it isn't).

Two-thirds of the way through the AP story, as carried in the New York Times, we find these five words: "It doesn't cover the CIA." The Washington Post completely fails to mention this "little" exemption, in the midst of an article touting the importance of the secret CIA prisons and their interrogation methods in obtaining allegedly crucial information. The Los Angeles Times takes a slightly different tack. While mentioning the CIA exemption from the purview of this new manual, they make this assertion:

Under the McCain amendment, the protections also will apply to CIA prisoners held in Defense Department prisons or bases.

They will not apply to CIA interrogators working in prisons run by other countries, although under the McCain amendment, those prisoners must be treated humanely and cannot be tortured.
Well, I'm no lawyer, but if you read the text of the McCain amendment, you'll see that the first sentence is true (with a proviso to be mentioned in a moment). But the second part of the McCain amendment, which applies to secret CIA prisons, doesn't state anything which the Administration doesn't already claim was true, and that they were following. Most importantly, it doesn't, unlike the new DoD manual, detail any actual techniques (like waterboarding), thereby leaving the entire language of that section up to the interpretation of the CIA and the Administration, just as it always has been. Furthermore (here comes the proviso), we don't have any reason to believe that Bush didn't issue a secret "signing statement" when signing the Defense Appropriation bill, nullifying the McCain amendment entirely.

Is this significant? Of course it is. When is torture likely to be deemed effective by its proponents? Surely not after someone has been in Guantanamo for four years and the "trail has gone cold." No, when they are going to torture people is right after they've been captured. Consider the recent announcement of the arrest of yet another "al Qaeda Number 2," Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi. First widely touted as having occured a few days ago, it has now been revealed to have occured on June 19. Where was Mr. al-Saeedi for two and a half months? It's a safe guess he was being worked over by the CIA in a secret prison, free from prying eyes and pesky laws.

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