Now that we have some numbers to go with the accusations of torture, people are really starting to take notice. The numbers:
The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum. Abu Zubaydah has been described as a Qaeda operative.
A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.
The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
So now that we have documents confirming Zubaydah was waterboarded an average of three times a day in August 2002 and Mohammed was waterboarded an average of six times a day in March 2003, people are finally starting to get outraged.
I was outraged after hearing we did it – ONCE. Waterboarding is torture and torture is illegal. Torturing prisoners does not send the right message to the rest of the world. Nothing good can come from torturing people, and I don’t give a damn what Evil Dick Cheney says. The Bush Administration admitted to waterboarding “a few times” a few years ago, and we should have begun investigations right then. But Americans love numbers, and numbers are what get them excited about doing something, so maybe now we’ll get started.
I guess some people thought we did it only a few times and we supposedly gained valuable intelligence as a result of it, so we should just excuse the illegality of the act. But now that we have numbers documenting the CIA’s repetitive use of waterboarding, we can no longer think of them as having had just a few lapses in moral behavior. They waterboarded with such alarming frequency that we must now think of them as serial torturers. 183 times on one man in one month! 83 times on another man in one month! 266 documented instances of waterboarding on just two prisoners!
Speaking of prisoners, this is what George W. Bush said about how they should be treated back in March of 2003 shortly after the Iraqi military captured some of our soldiers:
“If there is somebody captured, I expect those people to be treated humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals.”
And Donald Rumsfeld on March 25, 2003:
“This war is an act of self-defense, to be sure, but it is also an act of humanity…. In recent days, the world has witnessed further evidence of their [Iraqi] brutality and their disregard for the laws of war. Their treatment of coalition POWs is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.”
Waterboarding is inhumane, immoral, and illegal so, by Bush and Rumsfeld’s own standards for treatment of American prisoners of war, they and everyone in the Bush Administration that justified the use of torture should be treated as war criminals.
One of the key enablers was Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee who wrote in a memo how waterboarding would be carried out. He was a lawyer and is now a judge. He is not fit to sit on the bench. Go here to call for his impeachment.
Just this weekend Obama and Rahm Emanuel said “It’s not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back” out of “any sense of anger and retribution.”
But now the numbers have had an affect on the Obama Administration and today MSNBC reports on President Obama’s “opening of the door” to prosecution.
President Barack Obama left the door open Tuesday to prosecuting Bush administration officials who devised the legal authority for gruesome terror-suspect interrogations, saying the United States lost “our moral bearings” with use of the tactics.
The question of whether to bring charges against those who devised justification for the methods “is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws and I don’t want to prejudge that,” Obama said.
You can go to firedoglake to sign a petition requesting Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor to begin investigations of the Bush Administration’s use of torture.
And when you are done, watch Keith Olbermann on Daily Kos and take part in the poll.