The "few bad apples" excuse dies

To the complete lack of surprise to most of the left blogosphere, it turns out that the abuses of Abu Ghraib were not, after all, invented there.

The techniques, approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for use in interrogating Mohamed Qahtani -- the alleged "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- were used at Guantanamo Bay in late 2002 as part of a special interrogation plan aimed at breaking down the silent detainee.

The investigation also supports the idea that soldiers believed that placing hoods on detainees, forcing them to appear nude in front of women and sexually humiliating them were approved interrogation techniques for use on detainees.

A central figure in the investigation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who commanded the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and later helped set up U.S. operations at Abu Ghraib, was accused of failing to properly supervise Qahtani's interrogation plan and was recommended for reprimand by investigators. Miller would have been the highest-ranking officer to face discipline for detainee abuses so far, but Gen. Bantz Craddock, head of the U.S. Southern Command, declined to follow the recommendation.

Miller traveled to Iraq in September 2003 to assist in Abu Ghraib's startup, and he later sent in "Tiger Teams" of Guantanamo Bay interrogators and analysts as advisers and trainers. Within weeks of his departure from Abu Ghraib, military working dogs were being used in interrogations, and naked detainees were humiliated and abused by military police soldiers working the night shift.

The abuses at Abu Ghraib included military police taking photos of themselves mimicking the tactics used at Guantanamo Bay. Several photographs taken in late 2003 at the prison outside Baghdad show detainees wearing women's underwear on their heads, detainees shackled to their cell doors or beds in awkward positions, and naked detainees standing before female soldiers. Perhaps the most famous image is of Pfc. Lynndie England holding a leash attached to a detainee's neck.

Qahtani, according to the investigative report, was once attached to a leash and made to walk around the room and "perform a series of dog tricks." The report also notes the use of "gender coercion," in which women straddle a detainee or get too close to them, violating prohibitions for devout Muslim men on contact with women. Interrogators also threatened to tell other detainees that an individual is gay, according to the report. Detainees at Abu Ghraib were posed in mock homosexual positions and photographed.

Allegedly, the abuse of Qahtani produced actionable intel, but that's impossible to verify. What is known is that the abuse and tortures that the low-ranking soldiers of Abu Ghraib were found guilty of was a small part of the abuses that were performed from Guantanamo to Bagram in Afghanistan and who-knows-where-else? These tortures have severely damaged the image of the United States around the world and have bolstered the credibility of people who hate America everywhere. The assertion by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) that the Guantanamo abuses form relatively "minor incidents" that should not be a matter of national interest is simply too ridiculous to take seriously. The United States used to be above this sort of thing. As this information was dragged out by an investigation as opposed to being announced at the highest levels, it's absolutely ludicrous to make the presumption that we've heard the last of revelations concerning it or that Americans now know the full extent of it.

Of course, the left blogosphere would find yet another revelation completely unsurprising, that Bush was kept fully informed and approved every step. That wouldn't surprise much of anybody on our side of the aisle.

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