The Senate Torture Report

Cartoon by Simanca Osmani, Brazil.

I've written before about the Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) training techniques, originally designed to help captured members of our military withstand torture, which were then used as "agressive" interrogation techniques of detainees in U.S. custody.

Well, yesterday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) released a report, "Senate Armed Services Committee Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody (executive summary and conclusions)" which in major part looked at the influence of the SERE techniques.

The Committee concluded that the authorization of such techniques by senior officials was both a direct cause of detainee abuse and conveyed the message that it was okay to mistreat and degrade detainees in U.S. custody.

Levin said,

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. The techniques were never intended to be used against detainees in U.S. custody.

Senator McCain added,

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. These policies are wrong and must never be repeated....The abuses at Abu Ghraib, GTMO and elsewhere cannot be chalked up to the actions of a few bad apples. Attempts by senior officials to pass the buck to low ranking soldiers while avoiding any responsibility for abuses are unconscionable. The message from top officials was clear; it was acceptable to use degrading and abusive techniques against detainees. Our investigation is an effort to set the record straight on this chapter in our history that has so damaged both America’s standing and our security. America needs to own up to its mistakes so that we can rebuild some of the good will that we have lost.

Kinda nice to have McCain2K back, now that he's no longer running for prez and needs to kowtow to Mr. Bush in photo-ops where the later says he's "wink" against torture, while issuing signing statements to the contrary.

In "Pack of Liars," Dan Froomkin does a nice job over at the WaPo of summarizing the report, ading some additional background and linking to other coverage. As he writes,

Yesterday's bipartisan Senate report on the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere doesn't just lay out a clear line of responsibility starting with President Bush, it also exposes the administration's repeated explanation for what happened as a pack of lies.
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