Schmidt report

Andrew Sullivan is reading the Schmidt report.

BU GHRAIB - AUTHORIZED: Maybe you still remember the shock of seeing the photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. More gruesome images are on their way, and may well be released within a month. What we saw - the use of barking dogs, people shackled to the floor, sexual abuse, a man dragged around on a leash like a dog, simulation of gay sex, references and threats to relatives - was indeed shocking. But we were emphatically told by the administration that none of this was policy, that all of it was dreamed up by some nutjobs on the night shift who got their ideas from bad television or their own demented psyches. When some of us pointed out that there was clear evidence that some of these techniques were authorized, that, indeed, the commander of Guantanamo Bay, had been sent to Abu Ghraib to “Gitmoize” it, we were told we were slandering the troops and the administration.

SCHMIDT’S BOTTOM LINE: One great merit of the Schmidt report - which is otherwise riddled with worrying euphemisms, dismissal of troubling facts, exoneration of almost all commanders - is that we now know that almost every one of the Abu Ghraib techniques was practised and innovated at Guantanamo. These were not improvised out of nowhere. They were what the report calls “the creative application of authorized interrogation techniques,” and the interrogators “believed they were acting within existing guidance.” Here’s a list of techniques used at Gitmo. You might find some of them familiar:

* interrogators "brought a military working dog into the interrogation room and directed it to growl, bark and show teeth"
* some prisoners were restrained with "hand restraints connected directly to an eyebolt in the floor"
* one interrogator "tied a leash to hand chains, led [the detainee] around the room through a series of dog tricks."
* a prisoner was pinned down while a female interrogator straddled him
* a prisoner was told he was gay and forced to dance with another male
* one prisoner had his entire head duct-taped because he refused to stop "chanting passages from the Koran;" one had his Koran removed; another had an interrogator squat over his Koran on a table, while interrogating him.

If you recall Abu Ghraib, you will remember how almost every one of these techniques was deployed on the night shift. This is a critical point. The kind of techniques used in Abu Ghraib - sexual humiliation, hooding, use of dogs, tying prisoners up in “stress positions”, mandatory nudity, humiliating prisoners for their religious faith, even the famous Lynndie England leash - were all developed at Guantanamo Bay under the strictest of supervision. What we were told were just frat-guy, crazy techniques on the night shift - had been deployed by the best trained, most tightly controlled, most professional interrogation center we have. The Schmidt report argues that, while some of this was out of bounds, it was only because of some extra creativity, not because the techniques themselves were illicit, or unauthorized by Rumsfeld and Bush. Abu Ghraib is and was policy - just policy absorbed by ill-trained, unprofessional hoodlums. But those hoodlums didn’t get their ideas from thin air. They got them from the Pentagon and the White House.

In other words: it’s fucking Bush. That son of a bitch and his administration of crazies is doing this shit. It’s not some unruly band of drunk soldiers.

Oh come on, are you truly shocked? It’s been evident this wasn’t some fringe reservists having fun since the beginning.

Some further quotes from the linked source, bolding mine:

THE FIRST DETAINEE: One high-value detainee was subjected to the following:

He was kept awake for 18 - 20 hours a day for 48 of 54 consecutive days, he was forced to wear bras and thongs on his head, he was prevented from praying, he was forced to crawl around on a dog leash to perform dog tricks, he was told his mother and sister were whores, [b]he was subjected to extensive "cavity searches"[/b] (after 160 days in solitary confinement) and then "on seventeen ocasions, between 13 Dec 02 and 14 Jan 03, interrogators, during interrogations, poured water over the subject."

This latter is a very curious statement. Presumably, the interrogators weren’t refreshing the detainee. This, I infer, was “water-boarding,” a technique finessed by the French in Algeria, where water is poured over a person’s face to bring them to the point of drowning, and then released from suffocation at the last minute. Later in the report, we are told that this was done not just seventeen times but “regularly” as a “control measure.” All this was “legally permissible under the existing guidance.” That guidance was crafted by John Yoo, approved by Alberto Gonzales and signed by the president. Rumsfeld himself personally signed off on this interrogation. If anyone tells you that president Bush had nothing to do with what happened at Abu Ghraib, then hand them a copy of this report. But was it torture? Your call. If it happened to you, what would you call it? The Schmidt report calls it “degrading and abusive treatment.”

THE SECOND DETAINEE: But there’s another detailed account worth absorbing. It’s what happened to another high value detainee. Call him Detainee B. B cracked under interrogation and some of the approved techniques were never used as a result. But when he cooperated, he told one interrogator of what he called previous torture. He said he had been sexually abused: “female interrogators removed their BDU tops and rubbed themselves against the detainee, fondled his genitals, and made lewd sexual comments, noises and gestures.” The report concludes that the interrogators “used their status as females” to interrogate, but cannot corrobroate the specific charges. Recall that this kind of sexual stuff - including the smearing of fake menstrual blood on a detainee’s face - were specifically developed to offend strict Muslims (and were deployed at abu Ghraib). Detainee B also claimed he’d been beaten up. A physician found “rib contusions,” “an edema of the lower lip” and a “small laceration” on his head. Then it gets interesting. During the interrogation process, an interrogator posed as a captain in the Navy and told detainee B that they had captured his mother, and if she and he did not cooperate, she’d be sent to Gitmo as well. Then they sent in a masked interrogator. (The report says that “this was done in case the interrogation team wanted to use that interrogator later in another role.”) This masked man then told the detainee a story:

He told [detainee B] that he had a dream about [detainee B] dying. Specifically he told [detainee B] that in the dream he 'saw four detainees that were chained together at the feet. They dug a hole that was six feet long, six-feet deep, and four foot wide. Then he observed the detainees throw a plain, pine casket with the detainee's identification number painted in orange lowered into the ground.' The masked interrogator told the detainee that his dream meant that he was never going to leave Gitmo unless he started to talk, that he would inded die here from old age and be buried on 'Christian ... sovereign American soil.' On 20 Jul 03 the masked interrogator, "Mr. X" told [detainee B] that his family was 'incarcerated.'

The detainee was later told that his family was “in danger.” Then they sent in a fake messenger to “deliver a message to him:”

"That message was simple: Interrogator's colleagues are sick of hearing the same lies over and over and are seriously considering washing their hands of him. Once they do so, he will disappear and never be heard from again. Interrogator assured detainee again to use his imagination to think of the worst possible scenario he could end up in. He told detainee that beatings and physical pain are not the worst things in the world. After all, after being beaten for a while, humans tend to disconnect the mind from the body and make it through. However, there are worse things than physical pain. Interrogators assured detainee that, eventually, he will talk, because everyone does. But until then he will very soon disappear down a very dark hole. His very existence will become erased. His electronic files will be deleted from the computer, his paper files will be packed up and filed away, and his existence will be forgotten by all. No one will know what happened to him and, eventually, no one will care."

This threat helps make sense of the fact, as documented in previous government reports, that the Bush administration has designated some detainees in secret detention centers - and at Abu Ghraib - as “ghost detainees,” assigned them no numbers, and made them subject to potential “disappearance.” The threat, in other words, was a credible one. And it worked. Eventually, detainee B said he was “not willing to continue to protect others to the detriment of himself and his family.” Even the Schmidt report concluded that threatening someone’s life and the life of his family violates US military law, but is not “torture” as redefined by president Bush.

SOME CAVEATS: Some things to be aware of. This is not an independent report. It recommends mild reprimands at best. All of this occurred because interrogators “believed they were acting within existing guidance.”

This is going to sound full of histrionics but I wonder if people understand that if you’re willing to view someone as the enemy in a blanketed sort of way and thus deprive them of any or all rights as a human being just because they’re foreign, how close are you to being willing to view fellow citizens who’re politically opposed to mandates at the core of your movement as enemies and thus deserving of similar treatment once deemed an enemy of the state? I write this because I see soo damn many Americans arguing for or excusing this behavior and it’s bewildering to me. I’m not opposed to war or some bleeding hearted liberal who cries for puppies at night, but I can’t help but be alarmed at how these policies are so easily condoned by Bush supporters and other right wingers.

Then sleep well, John Reynolds. You are safe…for now.

The Right is blinded by fear and despair. Its not so much that they think what they are doing is good as that they fear doing nothing is very bad. Its a dirty job, they think, but someone has to do it. And they are noble for having to “balls” to proceed. They call Liberals cowards for “not doing what has to be done”. They call Liberals ignorant for not sharing their own “greater truth”.

Their Nightmare must be stopped. It will lead, and in fact is already leading, to disaster. Its slowly ruining American culture and worldwide perception of America. Its degrading individual Americans.

Their horrified worldview of a decaying land, of their own decaying soul, which must be revolutioned into something new, ANYTHING new, but preferably their antiquated kind of new, must be destroyed.

Neocon supporter: “Even a disaster is better than this horrible decadence”.

The funny thing is, what the Neocons will do is become conscious of this, and will use it as a political reality instead of as a myth. They will say “Yes, I’m afraid, and my fear gives me power!”

This is the core of the Neocon. They CANNOT relinquish their fear because just like a certain movement in Germany in the early 20th century, fear is a tool of their proposed human domination. Their proposed revolution. The result of their proposed human decadence, their proposed solution.

Tell the Neocon to look around. Tell the Neocon to leave his own self-absorbed nightmares for just a second (you wouldn’t want to make his life difficult after all… he is nobly trying to save humanity!) and actually LOOK AT THE FUCKING WORLD. Tell him to justify his own nightmare. Tell him to analyze his own nightmare. PROVE his fear.

If they can’t… if they won’t… then they should be put into the place in which they already live… their own haunted minds. The world does not need them and certainly does not benefit from them.

{Neocon laughs for the first time in his life}: Whoa… the world is actually pretty cool! To think all this time I just had sunglasses on!

Right now the Neocon is afraid of the world. His loves his insularity, his seperation, his becoming non-decadent. Anytime he touches the world he has black gloves on, painting the world with his dark image.

Push a Neocon into the world. If he returns with wisdom and puts on the black gloves again, then fine. But I’m betting he won’t.

Post-Neocon: “I turned out to like the world after all. I think I’ll stay a while.”

Neocon: The world must be purged… the world must be cleansed… the world must be remade anew. I am the man who must have the will to do it. I am the man who has the vision to see what must be done. I am Serious Angry. I love the Demagogues and Defeatists to show humanity their pathetic current condition and to put them under control. You are my Sodom and Gomorrah. I am your Apocalypse.

You’ll hate me now, but thank me later. You’ll see… you’ll ALL see, one day.

He must be apart of teh Illuminati. I agree.


Spot on, if a bit long winded!

Why is the extreme right so irrationally afraid of everything? Often of the very problems it’s policies create? At the drop of a hat, for temporary or even illusory security, they’ll give up hard won freedom, burn international good will (and thus economic prosperity), and start indefinitely locking up and/or torturing people with different color skin.

I thought this was supposed to be the land of the Free and the home of the Brave?

Jasper, I’m not shocked. This is just the first hard evidence that what everyone pretty much expected - top down policy - is true.

Yeah, that’s why the torture “discussion” in the US so flips me out. It’s the same line of exclusionary us/them reasoning, where everyone in a group takes on the attributes of lone cranks, and it results in stuff like the Japanese internment camps. Total trust in the government from people who should know better, nonsensical semantic arguments about what exactly is and isn’t torture while someone’s getting punched in the gut in the background of the frame, carping about details so you don’t have to look at the main argument, etc., etc.

To push the paranoia, I really don’t understand, for example, why the people excusing the torture in Gitmo & Iraq would suddenly get all “no no that’s not acceptable in the slightest” if we started doing it to US citizens, and that’s an dangerous alley. Am I supposed to believe Glenn Reynolds would suddenly be stricken with conscience if we started mass roundups of muslim US citizens and torturing them? I see no evidence he would.

I write this because I see soo damn many Americans arguing for or excusing this behavior and it’s bewildering to me. I’m not opposed to war or some bleeding hearted liberal who cries for puppies at night, but I can’t help but be alarmed at how these policies are so easily condoned by Bush supporters and other right wingers.

i don’t understand it either. i always figured the “torture our enemies” type people were just strawman stereotypes made up by liberal screenwriters for an easy to demonize enemy in movies and tv. it scares me how close some of those stereotypes are to actually being real people nowadays.

That’s honestly one of the funniest quote dubs i’ve read on the internet. The kid is perfect.