More on Guantanamo

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Andrew Sullivan’s post on the new Guantanamo report is much recommended, especially this point:

One great merit of the Schmidt report – which is otherwise riddled with worrying euphemisms, dismissal of troubling facts, exoneration of almost all commanders – is that we now know that almost every one of the Abu Ghraib techniques was practised and innovated at Guantanamo. These were not improvised out of nowhere. They were what the report calls “the creative application of authorized interrogation techniques,” and the interrogators “believed they were acting within existing guidance.”

Very true. The “aggressive” interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo may not have amounted to torture, if you really want to parse the word carefully. (Although they were neither “humane” nor legal.) But they certainly set the stage for abuses in Abu Ghraib that did amount to torture. Pretending that the government can set “aggressive” policy and then exonerate itself when that policy horribly spins out of control is, to say the least, disingenuous. Sullivan also offers evidence of whitewash in the report. It’s hard to make a call on this one way or the other—what happened in those interrogation rooms will likely always remain a mystery—which is precisely why transparent democratic processes are so valued for being, well, transparent. Just to add to Sullivan’s list, though, let’s not forget this old story:

The U.S. military staged the interrogations of terrorism suspects for members of Congress and other officials visiting the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to make it appear the government was obtaining valuable intelligence, a former Army translator who worked there claims in a new book scheduled for release Monday.

Meanwhile, Marty Lederman has more on the report, highlighting some of the “flagrant disregard for the rule of law” problems discussed below.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate