Opinion

Commentary: Detainee interrogation, rendition policy details needed

For thousands of Iraqi detainees, visits by a U.S. military monitoring team may be their one hope for learning why they were arrested.
For thousands of Iraqi detainees, visits by a U.S. military monitoring team may be their one hope for learning why they were arrested. Steve Lannen / Lexington Herald-Leader / MCT

This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.

More than four years after the outrageous pictures of detainee mistreatment at Abu Ghraib surfaced, a report by an authoritative source has finally put the blame squarely where it belongs – on former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other senior Bush administration officials.

Last week's report by the Senate Armed Services Committee didn't make the front page of most newspapers, probably because there was an air of deja vu about it. But that does not diminish its value and historic significance.

The findings will shock the conscience of anyone who can still remember when the United States was admired for the values it upheld.

"Removal of clothing, prolonged standing, sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation, hooding, increasing anxiety through the use of a detainee's aversions like dogs, and face and stomach slaps were all recommended for approval," the report states. In all, Mr. Rumsfeld authorized 24 specific interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay.

From there, they made their way to Abu Ghraib and contributed to an environment that, according to Army Maj. Gen. George Fay, "appeared to condone depravity and degradation rather than humane treatment." The official administration line is that this was all the work of a few "rotten apples," the few enlisted members who were subsequently court-martialed.

This report should put an end to that story. It makes clear that this was the direct outcome of official policy sanctioned by ranking officials at the Pentagon, the Justice Department and elsewhere.

Advocates for the administration say that Mr. Rumsfeld and others were only taking whatever steps they deemed necessary to prevent another 9-11. That doesn't justify what they did, either in terms of utility or legality. Hard liners consistently ignored the advice of experts who told them that inhumane treatment rarely produces good intelligence.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.

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