Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Excecutive Excuses For War Crimes

The President fails to demonstrate that illegal abuse has any benefit or result of value to American interests. The results of abusive interrogations can hardly be called successes: America is losing in both Iraq and Afghanistan. American abuse of civilians emboldens the insurgents and further weakens American negotiating positions.

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Cheney suggested he would not oppose water boarding. The President indicated that he supported interrogations in 2006 against personnel captured on the battlefield.

The Vice President argued that the practice is not torture. This is meaningless. The standard in Geneva is whether the conduct is or is not abusive. This chart, inspired by Peter, helps illustrate the Vice President’s smokescreen.

The Bush Administration fails to comprehend that abusive treatment emboldens the enemy, and further erodes domestic support.

Bush fails to make a compelling case in 2006 that personnel who may or may not have any connection with combat should be detained or interrogated. The Afghan and Iraqi theaters have deteriorated, and transformed; any intelligence gleaned in 2006 at best relates to combat operations which are no longer relevant. At worst, the prisoners of war are innocent civilians, never in a position to provide any useful intelligence.

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The central flaw to the President’s argument is his incorrect assertion that interrogations produce credible information; and that information will achieve success. Putting aside how the President defines success, the results belie the President’s assertions: Despite abusive interrogations which may or may not have yielded any information, the Americans have failed to translate that information into tangible successes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

American combat success have been exclusively isolated to aerial targeting, but ground is not controlled from the air. Yugoslavia is different than Iraq and Afghanistan. Airpower is merely an option to secure territory, not a final outcome. Once the bombing stops, unless there are combat troops on the ground, the insurgency returns.

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The President circularly defines success not in terms of tangible combat successes, but in whether he alone asserts that the interrogations are legitimate. The results are not successful combat victories, but setbacks and continued erosion of American prestige and legitimacy. At best, the President pretends that defeat is success because the Americans have captured personnel who may or may not be trophies of the failed American campaigns.

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The so called successes of interrogations and abuse of prisoners is inconsistent with the ongoing negotiations with the insurgents.

No one in the Bush Administration can credibly argue why someone captured in either Afghanistan or Iraq has superior information than those the Americans currently negotiates. Despite ongoing discussions and contact with both the leadership and insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Americans cannot explain why they continue to hold prisoners of war or argue that the interrogations have any value.


Interrogation abuse is illegal and a war crime. The Vice President, despite Hamdan illegally advocates unlawful water boarding. It is irrelevant whether the Administration has or has not agreed that the illegal abuse is or is not torture. The Geneva standard is whether the conduct is abuse.

American ongoing discussions with insurgents and combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan overshadow any legitimate claim in 2006 that people captured between 2001-2006 might over superior information than those the US current negotiates.

American combat results, even if linked with interrogation or abuse, are not successes. The results do not support any claim that there have been any benefits to torture. The ongoing American defiance of Geneva emboldens the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, further weakening the American bargaining position with the insurgency.

Even if the US was winning, personnel captured and detained in 2001 hardly offer any valuable information or superior insight that would outweigh the information the negotiation partners would have.

American leaders must explain why they continue to hold innocent civilians, but freely negotiate in secret foreign fighters who have superior knowledge. America is not in a position to capture their negotiation partner for a reason: The Americans are weak, and negotiating from a position of weakness. Their intelligence personnel, despite funding and public discussions of their incompetence, are unable to penetrate the cells behind their negotiation partners.

America is in a worse position than simply losing in Afghanistan and Iraq. American negotiators risks negotiating away power, access, and principles it has no legal authority. At best the Americans are secretly making bargains with those it publicly accuses of terrorism; at worst, the Americans are engaging in practices no different than Saddam Hussein.