By Michael P. Tremoglie, The Bulletin
Published: Friday, December 19, 2008
A Senate Armed Services Committee report released last week concerning the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody is being criticized by a veteran Pentagon reporter and an ex-Justice Department official as being inaccurate and politically motivated.
The committee report concluded senior officials authorized aggressive interrogation techniques. This, in the committee’s opinion, was a direct cause of detainee abuse and conveyed the message it was okay to mistreat and degrade detainees in U.S. custody.
“Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) training techniques were designed to give our troops a taste of what they might be subjected to if captured by a ruthless, lawless enemy so that they would be better prepared to resist,” U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the committee chairman said. “The techniques were never intended to be used against detainees in U.S. custody.”
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, the ranking member, backed the report’s findings.
“The committee’s report details the inexcusable link between abusive interrogation techniques used by our enemies who ignored the Geneva Conventions and interrogation policy for detainees in U.S. custody,” Mr. McCain said. “These policies are wrong and must never be repeated.”
Veteran Pentagon reporter Rowan Scarborough and former Assistant United States Attorney Andrew C. McCarthy contend the committee report ignores prior nonpartisan examinations of how detainees are treated.
They note that this report ignores the previous four nonpartisan, nonpolitical investigations into detainee abuse including the 2004 Independent Panel to Review Department of Defense Detention Operations. This was a bipartisan panel chaired by James Schlesinger, who served as Defense Secretary under the Nixon and Ford administrations, and former Carter Defense Secretary Harold Brown.
Their report stated the Bush administration did not implement a torture policy.
Mr. McCarthy was noteworthy for obtaining the 1995 conviction of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Mr. Scarborough and Mr. McCarthy both have said Senate and House Intelligence Committee members, both Democrats and Republicans, were informed of the techniques in 2002 without objection. They also said this fact was not mentioned in the committee’s report.
“There have been 12 official investigations to date. No one has reached the partisan conclusions in Sen. Levin’s report,” Keith Urbahn, a spokesman for former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said in an interview with Human Events.
“False allegations by a few have made the task of hundreds of thousands of men and women serving in the military all the more difficult because millions of people around the world will read in newspapers, in the Levin report, that the Department of Defense condoned torture and abuse and it did not.”
Michael P. Tremoglie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org