Something inside me just snapped

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

It is just another revelation about our inhumanity toward others.  Usually the stories send me into a rage.  Today, something just snapped. I just feel sick and disoriented.

It happened when I read this story in the Washington Post. It is not even about the depravity of CIA, military, and civilian contractors under our glorious commander-in-chief Bush. It is about law enforcement officers watching war crimes and doing nothing.  

I am still trying to figure out why it caused my head to spin.

Maybe it is the fact that the FBI agents are held up as virtuous.  Sure, they witnessed torture and did nothing, but they did not join in. They even “balked” (which could mean they even questioned the depravity of the torturers).  

The lengthy study by the Justice Department’s inspector general clears the FBI of engaging in coercive questioning of terrorism suspects, concluding that “the vast majority of FBI agents deployed in the military zones” adhered to bureau policies and balked at more aggressive tactics used by Defense Department and CIA employees and contractors.

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We are told the problem was one of confusion.

More than 300 FBI agents who served in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq or Afghanistan told the inspector general they had observed or heard about questionable interview tactics by other government workers. But bureau employees apparently were confused about how to draw the line between behavior that was “abusive” or merely harsh, such as the use of loud music and stripping.

That is a lot of confusion. But, we need to look on the bright side.

“But we believe the FBI should be credited for its conduct and professionalism in detainee interrogations in the military zones and in generally avoiding participation in detainee abuse.”

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The problem was one of deficient guidance by the FBI leadership.  They were “too slow to provide guidance” to the field agents. It is nothing that a remedial course in leadership cannot fix.

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine faulted bureau leaders, however, for waiting until May 2004 — a month after abuses at the Guantanamo Bay military prison became public and nearly three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — to issue a policy making clear that FBI workers were obliged to report abuse or mistreatment of detainees even if it fell short of criminal violations. The FBI was “too slow to provide guidance,” Fine’s report said.

The confusion and inaction is really the fault of the Justice Department.

In congressional testimony last month, Mueller hinted that the FBI’s hands were tied in part by opinions from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which approved several of the coercive interrogation strategies.

The “FBI’s hands were tied” seems like a poor choice of words when talking about torture, but maybe my sense of irony has atrophied.

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And why has it taken five years for the allegations to come to light?

The report was delayed for years because of alleged foot dragging in declassification by the Defense Department. Portions of the 370-page study remain subject to redactions for national security reasons.

At the end of the day, no one will be held accountable except a few lowly military personnel, but certainly not high ranking members of the Defense Department, Justice Department, CIA, or our patriotic corporations.  They were just a little too zealous in protecting our freedom.  

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At least I can be proud the FBI resisted the temptation to torture and I live in a country where people care about lapel decorations.

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I am probably just catching a cold.  It is probably nothing a few aspirin will not fix.

19 comments

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    • DWG on May 20, 2008 at 9:50 pm
      Author

    There must be something wrong with me.

  1. –this has nothing to do with torture, but–Henry Waxman earlier was handing the EPA chief’s ass to him on a platter.  Had to stop watching because I have a Bios problem with my computer and too much video makes it crash…but there are still heroes, and Waxman’s one, IMO.

  2. I saw the article and I thought I’d write an essay about it.  It is, after all, about reactions to seeing torture at Gitmo.  And I want the US to close Gitmo and stop torturing.  But I couldn’t write the essay.  I got frustrated and didn’t write it.

    …bureau employees apparently were confused about how to draw the line between behavior that was “abusive” or merely harsh, such as the use of loud music and stripping.

    Perdon, but that doesn’t make any sense to me.  Nor, to tell the truth, does the rest of the article.  An FBI agent at Gitmo sees something that is horrible and s/he is “confused” into inaction?  And silence?  WTF is that?  I just don’t get it.

  3. confusion intentional? Was the administration sending mixed signals to agents so that they would be slower to blow the whistle on anything because they wouldn’t want to report something that was within the guidelines?

    This is the banality of evil, and I know it sounds like splitting hairs here but I think part of the policy may have been to keep everything nebulous and see how far under those conditions the envelope could be stretched.

    You’re right to be upset.

  4. We have a reasonable expectation that FBI agents, as our top law enforcement agency, would aggressively demand that laws be followed and that any “confusion” be swiftly cleared up.  These aren’t politically-appointed hacks.  They are professionally trained and expected to take charge in “confusing” situations.  

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