The Damage Done

by matttbastard

Apparently The Dark Side was only the iceberg’s tip:

“President Obama’s plans to expeditiously determine the fates of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials — barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees — discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.

Let’s pause for a moment to let that sink in: “there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.”

Ok, moving on:

Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is “scattered throughout the executive branch,” a senior administration official said. The executive order Obama signed Thursday orders the prison closed within one year, and a Cabinet-level panel named to review each case separately will have to spend its initial weeks and perhaps months scouring the corners of the federal government in search of relevant material.

Several former Bush administration officials agreed that the files are incomplete and that no single government entity was charged with pulling together all the facts and the range of options for each prisoner. They said that the CIA and other intelligence agencies were reluctant to share information, and that the Bush administration’s focus on detention and interrogation made preparation of viable prosecutions a far lower priority.

Rewind my selekta: “[T]he Bush administration’s focus on detention and interrogation made preparation of viable prosectutions a far lower priorty

A far lower priorty.

Of course, DeYoung and Finn wouldn’t be “objective” if they didn’t (falsely) balance things out with the requisite mealy-mouthed partisan broadsides from–wait for it, kiddies–some unnamed former Bush administration assbaskets who nostalgically break out their by-now-rusty bullshit shovels:

But other former officials took issue with the criticism and suggested that the new team has begun to appreciate the complexity and dangers of the issue and is looking for excuses.

After promising quick solutions, one former senior official said, the Obama administration is now “backpedaling and trying to buy time” by blaming its predecessor. Unless political appointees decide to overrule the recommendations of the career bureaucrats handling the issue under both administrations, he predicted, the new review will reach the same conclusion as the last: that most of the detainees can be neither released nor easily tried in this country.

“All but about 60 who have been approved for release,” assuming countries can be found to accept them, “are either high-level al-Qaeda people responsible for 9/11 or bombings, or were high-level Taliban or al-Qaeda facilitators or money people,” said the former official who, like others, insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters about such matters. He acknowledged that he relied on Pentagon assurances that the files were comprehensive and in order rather than reading them himself.”

Well, isn’t that cute!  He never read the (um, non-existent files) that the Pentagon claimed are comprehensive (and are, um, non-existent),  yet somehow still remains completely confident that all Gitmo detainees (apart from the 60 designated for release–oopsie!) are lawfully detained and cannot ever be released, because, um, well, because — hey, look! A Wookie from the planet Kashyyyk!

It does not. make. sense.

Ok, say what you want about the Nazis, but at least they had the *ahem* decency to keep oh-so-impeccable records on their detainees; would that the former administration have shown similar consideration.

Hilzoy (h/t) lays it out on the table:

It takes, well, a special kind of administration to detain people for years on end without bothering to assemble case files on them. I’m just glad they’re finally gone.

Yes, gone, but their tainted legacy, unfortunately, festers, like black mold spreading contamination throughout the structure of US and international law.

Steve Benen puts these latest revelations in context:

The previous administration a) tortured detainees, making it harder to prosecute dangerous terrorists; b) released bad guys while detaining good guys; and c) neglected to keep comprehensive files on possible terrorists who’ve been in U.S. custody for several years. As if the fiasco at Gitmo weren’t hard enough to clean up.

And in order to completely mitigate the rot that, over the past 8 years, has almost completely eaten away at the rule of law in the US, Sylvia/M believes that the Obama administration must subcontract the restoration of  justice to the Hague:

If Obama really wants to restore our standing in the international community and to reinstate the rule of law here in the United States, now is the time to bind ourselves to the Rome Statute, submit to international justice, and start cleaning up the deeply entrenched messes our previous partisan warhawk regime has wrought.  The damage is growing too deep and too great for our national court systems to fix alone.

At the very least, this latest postscript from The Dark Side further underscores how vital it is for the Obama administration to hold accountable those who, whether deliberately or by virture of willful indifference, chose–chose–to napalm all progress Western Civilization has made since the Magna Carta was signed.

Torching our value system, in order to save it.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

15 thoughts on “The Damage Done

  1. With all due respect mattt, the Bushites knew exactly what happens when “oh-so-impeccable records on their detainees” are rigously kept.

    Those documents become evidence when former Bush administration go on trial, accused of war crimes. Whence the deliberate disregard for keeping records.


  2. Great post, mattt.

    Lt-Cmdr Kuebler (Omar Khadr’s U.S. military defence lawyer) has been working this vein hard for the last couple of years. Apart from what he does at GTMO, he has been filing whatever he can in Washington about what has happened to notes and records (or absence of same).

    The whole system — combining a prison system with intelligence gathering — is bizarre and unworkable, and the longer you look at what they’ve done, the more terrifyingly tyrannical it shows itself to be.


  3. Oh no. There was no intelligence gathering done at Gitmo, the ’24’ ticking time bomb fictional scenario aside.
    Ask any professionally trained interrogator. Torture impels people to say anything to get it to stop. Endit. You get fantastical garbage and invention. That’s the compelling reason it is disallowed in court.


  4. Well, whether the intel gathering was what you and I would consider serious is a question apart from what the puffed-up bastards thought they were doing, and they definitely thought they were doing intel.

    Read Senator Levin’s report. Those people were not doing careful and disciplined criminal investigation, of a kind they could take forward to a trial. They were looking for “actionable intelligence,” and anyone may have that. You probably do; I probably do. Intel works by association, and has nothing to do with how guilty anyone might be of anything.

    That’s why they kept Omar Khadr, because of who he was related to, where he’d been taken, who he might have seen, etc. They know he’s innocent (altered Pentagon files), but he certainly represented actionable intel. They also turned one of his brothers into an operative for them.


  5. Sorry, I didn’t mean to suggest that your intent in mentioning “the final solution” wasn’t ironic.

    But it bears repeating that Bush administration officials are well-versed in the ways of avoiding accountability.


  6. What a tragic farce. There was absolutely no rule of law sensibility among the PNAC gang. We might as well call Guantanamo what it is, an illegal detention camp with absolutely no other purpose but to punish “those people” and pretend that they are protecting “our people”. It’s the zirconia jewel of the Bush/Cheney post 9-11 security crown.


  7. Whatever the rank and file tasked with an operation beyond their competence really thought – and I recommend the Milgram Experiment to your attention to anyone proposing to put untrained unprofessional staff in place as far as forcasting results goes – the fact remains that the assigning of staff was a deliberate unconscionable act of malicious criminal intent.
    Here’s a professional’s take


  8. BTW Kindly note Oldephartteintraining has been superseded by Opit’s Linkfest. I hate to send people on a wild goose chase on blogroll links. Thanks.


  9. I just can’t get over the unmitagated gall of Bush and his toadies trying to save me and my family from being slaughtered by Islamic fanatics.

    The moral outrage I feel at the treatment of these would-be butchers far exceeds any discomfort I would feel having my head removed with a long knive as Mohammad screams Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar!

    These misguided souls deserve our compassion and concern. Can you imagine – having to wear those orange jumpsuits every day? No room service? No cable TV? Just for wanting to destroy civilization and murder your children…

    Yeah – it’s Bush and his toadies that are the real problem. That and the mental illness that seems to permeate liberal thinking.

    Let’s get these poor GITMO prisoners put up at the Waldorf and start the Bush war crimes trial now!


  10. Liberal thinking! What are you talking about ? Liberal means free. That doesn’t mean freedom for the state but freedom from it! Progressives get it too.
    English history and the revolt that caused the enactment of the Great Charter in 1215 are revealing : we are less free than land slaves ( serfs ) of 800 years ago.
    But they weren’t the ones who revolted.
    Oh no. It was the nobility : the executives by birth.


  11. From an AP story today:

    “at least 18 former Guantanamo detainees have “returned to the fight” and 43 others are suspected of resuming terrorist activities. The Pentagon has declined to provide a complete list of the former prisoners they suspect are now on the battlefield.”

    And you naive liberals are worried about the welfare of these murderous detainees ahead of your own countrymen. The clearest case of mental illness ever documented.


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