Mixed Signals from Washington on Torture
by Stephen Lendman
Trump’s Secretary of Defense James (“mad dog”) Mattis said it doesn’t work. His CIA director Mike Pompeo believes it does.
Trump said he’s OK with whatever they want, earlier indicating support for waterboarding (torture by any standard) and much worse – believing torture works despite clear evidence otherwise.
It’s used for control and punishment, not as an information obtaining practice. According to Politico, Mattis and Pompeo were “blindsided” by a draft executive order, calling for use of torture.
Bipartisan lawmakers expressed concern, failing to denounce torture and other forms of mistreatment under Bush/Cheney and Obama.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said “(i)t’s not a White House document,” adding he “ha(s) no idea where it came from.” Trump didn’t order it, he claimed. He hasn’t seen the draft as far as he knows.
It calls for the DNI to consider continued use of overseas CIA black sites, infamous for brutal torture. Its use breaches fundamental international, constitutional and US statute laws.
The order calls for maintaining Guantanamo as a prison for terrorist suspects captured abroad. It requires the defense secretary and other top national security officials to recommend whether enhanced interrogation techniques should be added to the Army Field Manual.
It says US laws should be obeyed. It’s unclear who wrote the draft order. Lawmakers from both parties issued statements denouncing it.
Ranking Senate Intelligence Committee Democrat Mark Warner (VA) said “any attempt by this administration to restart torture is absolutely unacceptable.”
“I intend to hold nominees, including Director Pompeo and Secretary Mattis, to their sworn testimony to follow the law, banning the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.” He’ll hold incoming DNI former senator Dan Coats to the same standard.
An amendment to last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) banned torture, limiting interrogation techniques to what approved by the Army Field Manual.
On Thursday, at the GOP retreat in Philadelphia, Senator John Thune said “(w)ith respect to torture, that’s banned.” The 1984 UN Convention against Torture and other international laws prohibited it long ago – at all times, under all conditions, with no allowed exceptions for any reasons.
Separately, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists advanced its doomsday clock to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.
On January 26, it issued a statement, attributing the move to “the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new President of the United States.”
It moved its clock less than a full minute for the first time in its history because he’s been president only for a few days.
It expressed concern over his wanting America’s nuclear arsenal expanded, his strident nationalism, his dismissiveness about climate change, his “intemperate statements,” and questionable appointments, potentially “ma(king) a bad international security situation worse.”
His actions during his first few days in office are great cause for concern. They signal more continuity than responsible change when the latter is so badly needed.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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