Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Senate Report on Detainee Abuse

An unclassified version of the Senate Armed Services Committee's Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody has been released and can be read or saved here. Tim F. at Balloon Juice has helpfully typed up the conclusions. The full report is a long document (263 pages), so on the site or as a PDF, it can scroll very slowly.

I'm happy to see this come out. Let's see the coverage on this one. I'm working on a new torture roundup, but it's hard to keep up with everything. All new evidence and good analysis is welcome, of course. The majority of Americans want some sort of investigation. And I just wrote to NPR because I found one of their torture stories frustratingly timid, so I'm hoping their coverage of this report will be far more frank and forceful.

Some initial thoughts - some of the senators listed are quite conservative, and even more are less than honorable. I think it's wise to remember that as damning as this is, this is still probably a watered-down version. It's more useful for its documentation of facts and events than its conclusions. Case in point – those conclusions mention "anti-torture laws" twice, but always refer to "abuse" versus "torture." I'd be very surprised if Cornyn and the lot didn't fight like the scumbags they are over that. Also, the dissembling public statements of Cornyn and Lieberman, among others, are even more damnable given that they had access to this information. Lieberman has claimed waterboarding is not torture and described it inaccurately on several occasions (including yesterday), while Cornyn has tried to claim torture is justified with his ludicrous ticking time bomb scenarios. Cornyn has also opposed a truth commission of any sort and whined about partisanship.

Meanwhile, the McClatchy piece "Report: Abusive tactics were used to find Iraq-al Qaida link" focuses on a specific point, confirming what long has been likely and we have noted in part before, even if there are smoking guns yet to come. The torture apologists will argue details as a distraction, but even if specific timelines, events and motives still need to be nailed down, at the most generous, this was criminal, reckless negligence.

This and the economy are easily the most important stories right now. And funny, accountability, responsibility and making the difficult but right choices are crucial in both cases. Both Wall Street and the Bush administration should be treated like crimes scenes.

(Cross-posted at Blue Herald)

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