The US institution of torture under the Bush 43 regime is a subject I’ve done plenty of blogging about. I think overturning a policy of non-torture put into place by then General George Washington will be on the most prominent legacies, and worst black marks on any US president, for George W. Bush.
Here’s a rountable debate on the “Torture’s Blowback” from the New York Times.
From the second link:
Susan Crawford, the senior Pentagon official who dismissed charges against Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Guantánamo detainee, said in a published report on Wednesday that she had concluded that he had been tortured by interrogators. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution, Ms. Crawford told The Washington Post. We asked these experts — most of whom were in our previous debate on the legal challenges of closing Guantánamo — how this admission of torture might affect that closure and the prosecution of other detainees.
And following are portions of the discussion.
David Cole is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, and the author, most recently, of “Justice At War: The Men and Ideas That Shaped America’s ‘War on Terror,’” and the essay “Closing Guantanamo,” published in Boston Review:
Susan Crawford’s admission that Mohammed al-Qahtani was tortured, and that as a result she had to drop the military’s prosecution of a man thought to the 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks illustrates just how costly the Bush administration’s short-sighted and immoral policies of coercive interrogation have been.
More than seven years later, it is not clear those practices have stopped any particular attack, but the Bush administration has yet to obtain a conviction against any of those behind the terrorist attacks.
Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor and author of “Willful Blindness: Memoir of the Jihad,” is legal affairs editor at National Review.:
As someone who has supported the military commission system, I must concede that it has performed abysmally, and Wednesday’s news reflects more of the same.
A short recap of its failings: The judge in the first military commission trial incorrectly instructed a jury on the definition of a “war crime” (a concept one would have thought rather basic to a “war crime” trial). The same judge gave the defendant — who had been a confidant and bodyguard of Osama bin Laden himself — a get-out-of-jail-free card. (I’ve been critical of various aspects of using the criminal justice system to counter terrorism, but one thing cannot be denied: terrorists convicted in our courts have gotten appropriately severe sentences — decades or more in prison.) Finally, a general in the appointing authority (the body that oversees the commission process) suggested that statements derived from waterboarding could be used as evidence.
Diane Marie Amann is a professor of law and director of the California International Law Center at University of California, Davis. In December she observed Guantánamo military commissions proceedings on behalf of the National Institute of Military Justice:
Last month, I was in the gallery of the Guantánamo courtroom built for the trial of the 9/11 case. I saw six defense tables, but there were only five defendants. There had been no official explanation for the absence — until now. Susan Crawford’s conclusion that Mr. Qahtani, the sixth man, was tortured — confirming what anyone following military commission proceedings already assumed — raises anew questions about what effect illegal interrogations will have on this and other post-9/11 cases.