Torturing Rumsfeld

On December 11, 2008, the “bipartisan” Senate Armed Services Committee released a report detailing causes behind the “mistreatment” of detainees in GITMO and Iraq. Not surprisingly, this lays the blame for nearly every instance of “detainee abuse” at the feet for former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

At the outset it is important to note this report is the result of collaboration between the hyperpartisan Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, Democrat and Senator John McCain, the committee’s ranking Republican. (Yes, the same “bipartisan” McCain who described Rumsfeld as “as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history” during a campaign stop in early 2007.)  

Just keep in mind that McCain is about as unbiased toward Rumsfeld as the New York Times is.  And, too, keep in mind that McCain’s “anti-torture” amendment in 2005 was a sham.  Instead of “outlawing” torture, McCain engineered a change to an existing criminal law — which everyone understood — to redefine “torture” to include “inhumane” and “degrading” treatment of a prisoner.

Now, thanks to McCain, no one knows what is torture and what isn’t.

One other thing we need to keep in mind: The report of the Senate Armed Services committee presupposes that our Muslim enemies are mean to us because we are mean to them. In so doing, the Senators behind the report equivocate on what it means to be “mean.” The meanness over which they criticize our military and Rumsfeld consists of interrogation tactics that included such cruelties as “sensory deprivation, sleep disruption, stress positions, waterboarding…slapping…[and] manhandling” detainees: none of which result in death.

Yet the committee’s report conveniently overlooks the fact that our enemies “mean” tactics often include beheading helpless prisoners.

Rumsfeld became the focus of the report for approving the use of certain “aggressive interrogation techniques” for GITMO detainees on December 2, 2002. In addition to the “mean” tactics already mentioned, Rumsfeld approved “the removal of clothing, use of phobia (such as fear of dogs)…and auditory stimuli.” Yet what really pushed the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee over the edge was the fact that Rumsfeld wondered if interrogations couldn’t be a made a little tougher.

It seems that the “aggressive interrogation techniques” that Rumsfeld had approved contained the limitation that detainees would not be required to stand for longer than 4 hours. Of this limitation Rumsfeld wrote: “I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is [detainee] standing limited to 4 hours?” Oh, the horror.

In their report, the Senate Armed Services Committee noted again and again that the interrogation techniques approved by Rumsfeld were techniques we subject our own Special Forces personnel to during “Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) training.” The intellectual giants on the committee noted that “those who play the part of interrogators in SERE school neither are trained interrogators nor are they qualified to be. …Their job is to train our personnel to resist providing reliable information for our enemies [rather than to extract useful information from them].”     

Did you catch that folks? Not only is Rumsfeld to blame for approving such “cruelty” but he is also a buffoon for being lucid enough to figure out that the tactics we use against our own forces during SERE training could suffice to convince terrorists to tell us what buildings, towns, or countries they’re targeting next.

The crux of the report states that Rumsfield’s approval of said tactics for GITMO in December 2002 resulted in the “abuses” at Abu Ghraib in late 2003. Taking this assumption as fact, the report implies that the abuse our personnel have received from militant Muslims is but reciprocation: “Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists are taught to expect Americans to abuse them.”

Sens. McCain and Levin might note that the “terrorists,” as your own report describes them, aren’t looking for reasons to hate us — they hate us because we are infidels according their religion. Thus Muslim extremists captured and beheaded journalist Daniel Pearl in the summer of 2002. Pearl was beheaded months before Rumsfeld approved “aggressive interrogation techniques” for GITMO.

And if we want to be precise about our timeline, and who would expect anything less than precision from a Senate-sponsored report, Rumsfeld rescinded the use of the GITMO interrogation tactics on January 15, 2003; nearly a year before the “abuses” at Abu Ghraib took place.

Rumsfeld isn’t the man who caused “detainee abuse,” but he is the one man who took our war against an enemy who cuts the heads off their detainees seriously.

Rumsfeld deserves our praise and our gratitude. Not some “bipartisan” jab from partisan hacks who spent who knows how much of the people’s money compiling a report that tells us how cruel we are for depriving terrorists of sleep and interrogating them with tactics that work; even if such tactics do hurt the terrorist’s little feelings.

Thank you Donald Rumsfeld for having the courage to stand when other men, even U.S. Senators, lacked the courage to stand with you.