Author Topic: Teamwork  (Read 636 times)

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« on: May 12, 2008, 01:52:12 PM »

 PHILIPPE SANDS:So take Diane Beaver. I had written a previous book where I treated her legal advice. She had been the person down at the bottom who'd signed off on aggressive interrogation. I didn't like her legal advice at all. I thought it was really bad advice and wrong advice. And I was rather uncomplimentary, perhaps even rude about it, in my last book. And then I met her. And she explained to me the circumstances in which she found herself. I don't think it justifies what happened. But she described to me the pressure she felt herself under, the anniversary of 9/11 coming up.

This man, detainee 063, al-Qahtani, present and caught. Tremendous pressure coming from the upper echelons of the administration. She described to me a visit that the administration has never talked about in which the three most important lawyers in the administration, Mr. Gonzales, who's the president's lawyer, Mr. Addington, who is the vice president's lawyer, and Mr. Haynes, who is Secretary Rumsfeld's lawyer-- came down to Guantanamo at the end of September, talked to them about interrogations and other issues, watched an interrogation, and left with the message, do whatever needs to be done. Now, put yourself in Diane Beaver's situation. You're getting a signal from the main man at the top of the administration: do whatever needs to be done. That takes the lid off and opens the door.

BILL MOYERS:Was there a single architect of the decision, the person who said, "Take the gloves off?"

PHILIPPE SANDS:There was one lawyer in particular who everyone kept referring to as being, if you like, the brains. I'm slow to use that word for such an awful series of events. But the driving force behind it, and that was David Addington. I know Diane Beaver and Mike Dunleavy, who was her boss, the head of interrogation at Guantanamo, told me that when they came down, it was obvious that Addington was the main person. He was the leader of the team. He was, I think they were very anxious around him, with his big booming voice, his big beard. Nothing is known about him in detail. He's never, previously, I gather, appeared before Congress. And he's now, just been subpoenaed. I think he may well have been the driving force. But he wasn't speaking off his own back. I mean, he was speaking for the vice president. And I think that the finger of responsibility in the end, will most likely go to the vice president. But Mr. Rumsfeld was deeply involved. And, of course, the president has indicated just within the past month, that he signed off on everything.

BILL MOYERS:You subtitle the book Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values. Tell me briefly about that memo and why it betrayed American values.

PHILIPPE SANDS:The memo appears to be the very first time that the upper echelons of the military or the administration have abandoned President Lincoln's famous disposition of 1863: the U.S. military doesn't do cruelty.

BILL MOYERS:And that's the basis, isn't it, for the military handbook that soldiers use--


BILL MOYERS:--to follow, to try to stay within the rules of the game?

PHILIPPE SANDS:Yeah. It's called the U.S. Army Field Manual, and it's the bible for the military. And the military, of course, has fallen into error, and have been previous examples of abuse. But never before--

BILL MOYERS:There were prison camps in the Civil War that were abominable.

PHILIPPE SANDS:Absolutely. No one is saying it hasn't happened before. But apparently, what hasn't happened before is the abandonment of the rules against cruelty. And the Geneva Conventions were set aside, as Doug Feith, told me, precisely in order to clear the slate and allow aggressive interrogation.

BILL MOYERS:And Rumsfeld's memo was the catalyst for this?

PHILIPPE SANDS:Rumsfeld's-- well, the timing was that the Geneva Conventions were set aside in February 2002 by decision of the president, at the insistence of Doug Feith and a small group, including some lawyers. And the memo by Donald Rumsfeld then came in December, 2002, after they had identified Muhammed al-Qahtani. But it was permitted to occupy the space that had been created by clearing away the brush work of the Geneva Conventions. And by removing Geneva, that memo became possible. Why does it abandon American values? It abandons American values because this military in this country has a very fine tradition, as we've been discussing, of not doing cruelty. It's a proud tradition, and it's a tradition born on issues of principle, but also pragmatism. No country is more exposed internationally than the United States. I've listened, for example, to Justice Antonin Scalia saying, if the president wants to authorize torture, there's nothing in our constitution which stops it. Now, pause for a moment. That is such a foolish thing to say. If the United States president can do that, then why can't the Iranian president do that, or the British prime minister do that, or the Egyptian president do that? You open the door in that way, to all sorts of abuses, and you expose the American military to real dangers, which is why the backlash began with the U.S. Military.

BILL MOYERS:And you say, from there, it slipped into a culture of cruelty?

PHILIPPE SANDS:It slipped into a culture of cruelty. There was a, it was put very pithily for me by a clinical psychologist, Mike Gellers, who is with the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, spending time down at Guantanamo, who described to me how once you open the door to a little bit of cruelty, people will believe that more cruelty is a good thing. And once the dogs are unleashed, it's impossible to put them back on. And that's the basis for the belief amongst a lot of people in the military that the interrogation techniques basically slipped from Guantanamo to Iraq, and to Abu Ghraib. And that's why, that's why the administration has to resist the argument and the claim that this came from the top.

BILL MOYERS:For a long time, it was thought that the, it went up the chain from Bagram in Afghanistan, to Abu Ghraib, and then to Guantanamo. But you're saying it started in Washington and went down?

PHILIPPE SANDS:It started with a few bad eggs. The administration has talked about a few bad eggs. I don't think the bad eggs are at the bottom. I think the bad eggs are at the top. And what they did was open a door which allowed the migration of abuse, of cruelty and torture to other parts of the world in ways that I think the United States will be struggling to contain for many years to come.

BILL MOYERS:You said that the backlash came from the military.

PHILIPPE SANDS:I think it's, I tell a really complex story. It's more sort of like a thriller, actually, because you've got different--

BILL MOYERS:We'll read it.

PHILIPPE SANDS:You've got different camps who are struggling down at Guantanamo. And I think it would be wrong in any way to give the sense that there was unanimity to move towards abuse or that there was even strong support towards moving towards abuse. There was a strong body of belief down at Guantanamo amongst the military community, amongst the military lawyers, with the FBI, with the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, that this is a bad thing. Abuse doesn't work, abuse undermines authority, abuse undermines morale. We are going to stop it. Initially, they weren't successful. But once the abuse began, a backlash followed. And the folks down at Guantanamo identified a man in Washington who was the general counsel of the Navy, a man by the name of Alberto Mora, who truly is a heroic individual, in my view, who intervened very courageously, no personal advantage, directly with Jim Haynes, and said, "This must stop. If it doesn't stop, I'm going to reduce this into writing, and I'm going to cause a big fuss." And eventually, it did stop. But only after 54 days of abusive interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani, and not before the door had been opened, and the dogs had slipped their leash.

BILL MOYERS:The legal affairs correspondent of The National Journal, a very respected fellow named Stuart Taylor, says that we should focus on amending the law to prevent future abuse of torture, but not hold those responsible for past interrogations of questionable legality. What do you think about that?


BILL MOYERS:I mean, some people have said that the committee that you appeared before is on a witch hunt to go after these lawyers and the politicians. And some of the critics on the blogs are saying that you're aiding and abetting that.

PHILIPPE SANDS:I think the crucial issue is you've got to ascertain the facts. I was asked by the committee what should happen. My answer to that question was, "Let's sort out the facts. Once we've sorted out the facts, then it will be for others to decide what to do."

PHILIPPE SANDS:I'm satisfied here a crime was committed.


PHILIPPE SANDS:A crime was committed.


PHILIPPE SANDS: The Geneva Conventions were plainly violated in relation to this man. And in our system laws, if a man violates the law and commits a crime, he is punishable.

BILL MOYERS:So who violated the law?

PHILIPPE SANDS:I think it goes to the top. And I think that the lawyers contributed to the violation of the law-


PHILIPPE SANDS:And the lawyers themselves face exposure. But just coming back to this bigger point, I'm not saying there, I'm not on a witch hunt. I'm not saying that there should be a campaign of investigation and prosecution and sentencing, and conviction, and so on and so forth. What I'm saying is let's start by sorting out the facts. Once the facts have been sorted out, let's see exactly what they say, and it will be for others to decide what needs to be done. But until that's done, you can't close on the past and you can't move forward.

BILL MOYERS:But David Rifkin says in the hearing, "I think it would be madness to prosecute anybody, given the facts involved." ... "The efforts to go-- the efforts to go after the lawyers borders, to put it mildly, on madness. Those lawyers were not in any chain of command. They had no theoretical or practical ability to direct actions of anyone who engaged in abusive conduct."

PHILIPPE SANDS:He's just wrong. The lawyers were deeply involved in the decision making process. The lawyers that I've identified, from John Yoo at Department of Justice, preparing a legal memorandum which abandons American and international definitions of torture, and reintroduces a new definition that has never been passed by any legislature, that is totally unacceptable. What was he doing there? Was he really giving legal advice? No he wasn't. He was rubber stamping a policy decision. This is not careful, independent legal advice. What was Jim Haynes doing when he recommended to Donald Rumsfeld the authorization for the approval of 15 techniques of interrogation? He was saying to the Secretary of Defense, I'm your lawyer. I'm telling you this is fine. You can do it. If he hadn't done that, Mr. Rumsfeld would not have signed the piece of paper that Jim Haynes wrote. Jim Haynes is directly involved in the decision making process. And the lawyers, as such, play an absolutely key role. Now, at the end of the day, they're not the most important people. The most important people are the people whose signatures are actually appended. They are the politicians who actually decided the issue. But in this case, without the lawyers, they would never have had a piece of paper to sign.

BILL MOYERS:Do you think that people like David Addington and John Yoo and Jim Haynes, and the other lawyers you've mentioned who advised and were on the torture team, should ultimately be held responsible in court for what they did in government at this period of time?

PHILIPPE SANDS:If they were complicit in the commission of a crime, then they should be investigated. And if the facts show that there is a sufficient basis for proceeding to a prosecution, then they should be prosecuted. Lawyers are gatekeepers to legality and constitutionality. If the lawyers become complicit in a common plan to get around the law, to allow abuse, then yes, they should be liable.

BILL MOYERS:There are people who say, "I don't want to hear about this." A lot of Americans say, "I don't want to hear about this." It's like being diagnosed with cancer. You don't really want to hear the terrible news. You know, this is something that was done in a particular period of intense fear and uncertainty. We had been attacked, 3,000 people killed right here in New York. And I just want the government to take care of it. I don't want to hear about the cruelty, the torture, the enhanced interrogation techniques. Do you understand why they would say that?

PHILIPPE SANDS:I do understand that. And here's what I'd say. I would want the government to take care of it in a way that is going to protect me over the long term. And if understand that using abuse produces pictures of the kind that have appeared at Abu Ghraib, and of the kind that have appeared at Guantanamo and are going to make it more difficult for me to protect the American public, I want to know about that. And if it is indeed the case that those pictures are going to make it more difficult to protect the American public, I want to sort it out, that we remove that obstacle to protecting the American public, and we ensure that it doesn't happen again in the future, and as necessary, make sure that those who erred in putting in policies that allow that to happen, face appropriate responsibility. You know, Bill, what has really agitated me the most about this—at the end of the day, I've been reflecting on it this week in particular, just being before the committee, some very pertinent questions from both side of the House, Democrat and Republican. It's not just that a crime was committed. It's that there's been a failure to take responsibility. There's been a cover up from the top in terms of pointing the finger to people who should not take blame for what has happened.

BILL MOYERS:But soldiers down the line?

PHILIPPE SANDS:Soldiers on the front lines who are doing their best in difficult circumstances, to protect the United States, should not be blamed for what was decided at the top. But there's an even bigger issue at a very personal level. It's not about legality, about criminality. It's about taking individual responsibility. If people like Doug Feith and Jim Haynes had said to me, "Look, Philippe. September the 11th came. The anniversary was coming. We were getting information that there were going to be more attacks. We had people that we were told had information that we need to do something about. And we therefore felt, in those circumstances, it was right to use all means appropriate and necessarily to get the information. But, with the benefit of hindsight, we realize we fell into error, we made a mistake. We accept responsibility for that. We will learn from those mistakes. We'll make damn sure it doesn't happen again." I didn't get that at all. There was not a hint of recognition that anything had gone wrong, nor a hint of recognition of individual responsibility. When you read these chapters, when you read my account with Doug Feith and with others, you will see the sort of weaseling out of individual responsibility, the total and abject failure to accept involvement. Read Mr. Feith's book. on how to fight the so-called war on terror. And it's as though the man had no involvement in the decisions relating to interrogation of detainees. And yet, as I describe in the book, the man was deeply involved in the decision making from step one. So it's about individual responsibility. And there's been an abject failure on that account.

BILL MOYERS:Do you think torture's still going on?

PHILIPPE SANDS:I don't think torture is still going on at Guantanamo. I'd have to say my own view is that there has not been systematic torture at Guantanamo. I think it was isolated to two or three cases. I think the Guantanamo facility violates international law in many other ways and is wrong in many other ways. But I don't think that there was systemic torture at Guantanamo. I think there was probably far more systemic torture in Afghanistan, at Bagram and in Kandahar, but not in the military. And I think the military has now stopped. But it's important not to forget that although the military now, following in particular, the intervention of the United States Supreme Court in 2006, very important judgment in the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which said, Common Article Three of the Geneva Conventions can be invoked by all detainees at Guantanamo. So on the military side, it has stopped. But there remains the other side, the dark side, as Vice President Dick Cheney called it, the CIA. And just in the past few weeks, the President of the United States has vetoed legislation which would allow the CIA, which would prohibit the CIA from using the very techniques of interrogation that are the subject of this book, as necessary in the future. And I think that has disturbed a lot of people.

BILL MOYERS:But truth has consequences. And in the hearing the other day, Representative King of Iowa said to you, you're hurting the war on terror. You and all the critics, all the journalists, all the people who are trying to stir up this debate, and expose what happened in the inner workings of the administration.

REP. STEVE KING:"Wallowing in self-guilt as a nation, and bringing hearings before this Congress and pumping this into the media constantly, when we've identified that these are narrow, very narrow, exceptional circumstances, and at our knowledge on it isn't complete, that it extends the outrage,That this panel and this testimony, and those things that supplement it across this media, also extend the outrage and may be extending this global war against these people, whom we won't call terrorists, we'll call them Islamic jihadists."

BILL MOYERS:Now, he's saying too much truth about what really went on can be explosive in our ability to deal with the threat we face.

PHILIPPE SANDS:I think he's ahistorical. And he's revealing--

BILL MOYERS:Ahistorical?

PHILIPPE SANDS:Ahistorical. He has no sense of history. He's revealing his lack of understanding in other contexts, where similar analogous situations have arisen. And again, I come back to my own experience in Britain. I was a kid growing up in London when the streets of London were being bombed. For a period of 1970s, the view was, let's hit them hard. Let's hit them very hard. And it soon became clear that that is not a technique that works. The technique ultimately that worked-- and prime ministers over time, John Major, Tony Blair, have put in-- tried a different approach. And the different approach is you understand what's at the root cause of the conflict. You talk to these people, sometimes secretly.

You try to reconcile that errors have been made. And that is a crucial part of bringing closure to a painful past. It happened in South Africa. It happened in Chile. It's happened in many other countries around the world. And if nothing else, an inquiry such as the House Judiciary Committee is doing, is playing into the establishment of the facts, which is a first prerequisite to moving on. So I directly contradict the views of the representative. It's exactly the opposite. Until you begin to come to terms with the past, and accept if errors were made, that they were made, and who has responsibility for them-- not necessarily in a prosecutorial way, but in some appropriate way-- then you're able other move on. But without that, you can't move on.

BILL MOYERS:I read comments just this week by a noted Arab scholar, who said that if you walk the streets of Cairo today, stop at the book stalls, stop at the book stores, you see, looking out at you everywhere, photographs of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. That the-- this torture, these enhanced interrogate-- interrogation techniques ? this cruelty-- has seized the imagination of the Arab world. And that long after all of us have gone, including the torture team, the next generation of Arabs will living with those images. What's your own sense of that?

PHILIPPE SANDS:Well, that, I'm very sad to say, is my observation. I do travel a lot. I travel, you know, in South America, I travel in Asia, I travel in the Arab world. I do a lot of work for governments around the world. And it's sad but true. The image of the United States today is that it's a country that has given us Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Now, that is not the America that I know. I've spent a lot of time here, you know. I'm married to an American. My kids were born in the United States. I know what the true America is. And for me, this is a distressing story, because it has allowed those who want to undermine the United States a very easy target for doing it. It's even worse than that, Bill. I mean, I've been in situations-- in a globalized world with the internet, the legal advices that have been written by people like John Yoo at the Department of Justice, and the memos written by Jim Haynes, that have been put in front of the desk of Donald Rumsfeld, have gone all over the world. They've been studied all over the world. Other governments are able to rely upon them, and to say equally, look, this is what the United States does. If the U.S. does it, we can do it. It's undermined the United States' ability to tackle corruption, abuse, human rights violations in other countries, in a massive way. And it will take 15 or 20 years to repair the damage. And that's why, irrespective of the complexion of whichever next president happens to hold that high office-- and I think irrespective of whether it's Mr. McCain or Mr. Obama, or anyone else, there will be a recognition of a need to move on. And moving on means recognizing that errors were made.

BILL MOYERS:So the next president has to wrestle with this, and so do we?

PHILIPPE SANDS:I think we're all going to be wrestling with this. And I think we have a responsibility to wrestle with it in a constructive way, precisely because I think we do face real global challenges. And the threat of terror is real. And the importance of putting the spotlight on the past is to make us learn for the future and to make sure it doesn't happen again.
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Re: Teamwork
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2008, 06:22:13 PM »
A good interview.

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Re: Teamwork
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2008, 07:10:38 PM »

Suicide bomber was former Guantanamo detainee
May 8, 2008

A man who carried out a suicide attack in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has been identified as a former Kuwaiti detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a US military spokesman said.

"One of the recent suicide bombers in Mosul has been identified as Abdallah Salih al-Ajmi, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee," said Major Bradford Leighton, a US military spokesman in Baghdad.

Al-Ajmi returned to Kuwait after being released from the US detention centre at Guantanamo, but later traveled to Iraq via Syria, the spokesman said.

"We don't know what motivated him. His family apparently was shocked to hear that he had conducted the bombing," he said.

While 90 per cent of suicide attacks in Iraq are carried out by foreigners, instances where they were carried out by Kuwaitis "have been relatively rare", he said.

Major Leighton was unable to say if there have been any previous cases of former Guantanamo detainees carrying out suicide attacks.

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