The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a “life-threatening condition.”
“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution.
Crawford, a retired judge who served as general counsel for the Army during the Reagan administration and as Pentagon inspector general when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense, is the first senior Bush administration official responsible for reviewing practices at Guantanamo to publicly state that a detainee was tortured.
I can hear the folks over at RedState now…”But, but, but…what if a nuclear bomb were about to go off and Jack B-, I mean the CIA needed to find out where it was so they could diffuse it?”
Is it just me or is the fact that we actually had to have a debate about whether it’s okay to torture people is evidence of how far off track we’ve gone?
Obviously I’m not suggesting that our actions are anywhere close to being as bad as the terrorists, but one of the ways they’ll “win” is if we adopt their tactics. The Bush administration fell right into this trap and lost a massive amount of credibility as a result…as well they should.
Let’s hope our new POTUS is smarter.