[ The Misleader.org piece below provides an overview of the new evidence pointing to Bush’s culpability in creating conditions that paved the way for torture of prisoners. As the Independent put it on 8 June:
… [I]t was revealed yesterday … A classified report prepared just weeks before Mr Bush ordered his forces to invade Iraq concluded that no international law was more important than “obtaining intelligence vital to the protection of untold thousands of American citizens.”
The report, a draft of which was obtained by The Wall Street Journal, had been prepared by the staff of Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary…. It … said [US laws and international treaties that forbid torture] could be legally side-stepped in the needs of national security…. The document said that “the prohibition against torture must be construed as inappropriate to interrogations undertaken pursuant to [President Bush’s] commander-in-chief authority.”
President Bush has claimed that the prison abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib was “disgraceful conduct by a few American troops,”1 and had nothing to do with broader administration policy. But according to a March 2003 Pentagon memo, Bush administration lawyers issued legal justifications for torture, specifically claiming, “President Bush was not bound by either an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal anti-torture law.”2 The revelations have now forced the President to backtrack from his previous denials of culpability, with the White House yesterday admitting for the first time that Bush did, in fact, “set broad guidelines”3 for interrogation in Iraq – a tacit admission that Bush himself “opened the door”4 to the torture tactics in the first place.
Now, the U.S. Senate is demanding the full Pentagon memo from the Bush administration. But the President has refused, instead dispatching Attorney General John Ashcroft to tell “lawmakers he won’t release or discuss”5 the memo, even if he is cited for contempt of Congress. This is the same Ashcroft who “conveniently declassified”6 internal Justice Department memos in an effort to slander 9/11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick. It is also the same Bush administration that leaked the classified name of a CIA officer7 in an effort to intimidate a former ambassador who had debunked their false WMD claims.8
- Presidential Speech, White House Website, 5/24/04.
- “Lawyers Decided Bans on Torture Didn’t Bind Bush“, The New York Times, 6/08/04.
- “Memo on Torture Draws Focus to Bush“, The Washington Post, 6/09/04.
- “The Roots of Torture“, Newsweek, 5/24/04.
- “U.S.’s Ashcroft Won’t Release or Discuss Torture Memo (Update 2)“, Bloomberg.com, 6/08/04.
- “Mr. Ashcroft’s Smear“, The Washington Post, 4/20/04.
- “Mission to Niger“, townhall.com, 7/14/03.
- “White House “warned over Iraq claim“, BBC News, 7/09/03.