Military vs CIA; the “I was just following orders” defense

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, only because pictures were released, those military members who were involved were scapegoated, tried, convicted, and sent to prison.  The defense of “I was just following orders” didn’t work for them.  

Now that we know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the CIA and its contractors tortured detainees, the “I was just following orders” defense is suddenly paramount to President Obama?

More after the fold…

The first thing every person in America needs to understand is that there was ONE standard being applied to detainees — the guidelines had been approved at the highest level.  So, why were military members sent to prison?  The answer is obvious: the Abu Ghraib scandal was a public embarrassment to the Bush administration while the CIA’s involvement was still kept “secret” (even though anyone who had been reading the news reports knew of the CIA involvement).

The Bush era of torture may be over, but, there are still service men and women in prison who were merely “following the orders” and “guidelines” given to them under the exact same “legal cover” that even now protects the CIA operatives.  Haven’t we seen this before?

Go back in time to the Vietnam War.  Go back to a time when Tiger Force, an Army team, went on a seven-month killing spree.  Go back to a time when the CIA was torturing prisoners captured in Vietnam.  Go back to the Mai Lai massacre, where only a military person was tried and convicted of having committed a crime.  The parallel is not only apt, but, a historical lesson on how when an act that was sanctioned at the highest levels, but, that causes political embarrassment to the administration, puts the military members in prison while the CIA operated with impunity.

Republicans and their media shills are crying about how torture worked while ignoring the purpose behind the torture.

Conclusion3: The use of techniques similar to those used in SERE resistance training- such as stripping students of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, and treating them like animals – was at odds with the commitment to humane treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. Using those techniques for interrogating detainees was also inconsistent with the goal of collecting accurate intelligence information, as the purpose of SERE resistance training is to increase the ability of U. S. personnel to resist abusive interrogations and the techniques used were based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions.  

The two detainees who were waterboarded repeatedly were both tortured at the times when the Bush administration was trying to justify their invasion of Iraq by getting “evidence”, coerced via confession, that Al-Qaeda was operating in Iraq.  But, once the genie was let out of the bottle, it (it being torture) was now a universal part of our interrogations of ALL detainees thought to have intelligence value.  Why else was only those two individuals, at those specific times, waterboarded over 260 times in a one-month period if not to elicit a false confession?  Yet, as in the past, it is the lower military ranks who are in prison and the CIA who is protected.

Back in the 1950’s there may have been a noble purpose for the CIA.  But, since the 1950’s, the only purpose the CIA has served is to conduct illegal operations under the cover of absolute immunity for their actions.  Remember, that it was the CIA in 1953 that overthrew the elected leader of Iran so the Shah, a brutal dictator, could be installed.

The CIA follows orders with immunity.  The military follows orders, but, they have no immunity for their actions.  What’s the difference?  It is harder for the military to operate in total secrecy.  That’s it.

Now the light is shining on that secrecy.  Now we know what was authorized at the highest of levels.  We know it was torture.  We know it was techniques designed to give false confessions, not intelligence.  And the defense of those who authorized it?  It worked!  There are memo’s that prove it worked!

It was still torture.  And there are still military members in prison for following orders while the CIA will, once again, get immunity.  This is why we cannot wait, as some have suggested, for investigations to begin.

As a former law enforcement officer that acted as the prosecutor for the misdemeanor offenses that I was the arresting authority, I know that there are some cases you win and some you lose, but, you don’t wait to prosecute.  You trust our system to work.

The mantra of “the left” is “keep our powder dry.”  The result is that nothing ever happens.  This cannot be allowed to stand this time.

We helped establish the Nuremburg principles.  We, as a nation, must now abide by them.  If that means CIA agents go to prison, so be it.  If that means that senior military officials go to prison, so be it.  If that means a former President and Vice-President to go prison, so be it.  The law is the law.  The standards we helped put into practice must be adhered to and upheld.

President Obama is feeling the heat from all sides, but, only ONE side is right — those who say that torture is illegal, those who say “only following orders is no defense”, those who wish for us to adhere to the rule of law.

Military men and women are already in prison.  The CIA operatives and Bush administration officials should join them.


Skip to comment form

  1. And the defense of those who authorized it?  It worked!  There are memo’s that prove it worked!

    We don’t know that. We’ll never know that, because no proof was ever furnished while it was still going on. No good faith attempt to EVER come clean to the American people was ever made. Any asshat can type up a backdated memo that says anything the asshat wants it to say, and if the asshat is capable of torture, deliberate assassination and so many other war crimes, what’s falsifying one little memo?

    • geomoo on April 22, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    while those poor slobs sit in jail, my blood boils.  We may not like the truth about us humans, but it has been pretty conclusively shown that most typical American kids put into that environment would have behaved much the same way they did.  I know we wish we would all be principled, but human behavior and even thought is highly dependent on circumstances.  They are in jail for not being exceptional human beings while others go free who are the “worst of the worst.”

    This is a terrific point about the CIA vs. the military.  That’s why it was so upsetting to hear Obama tell them “don’t worry.”  To me he was saying we’ll protect your privileged status as the one who doesn’t get headaches but gives them.  In the CIA, we are providing a safe haven for terrorists.  Until we get them under control, our country will continue to grapple with these kinds of problems every time something happens to become public.  We don’t need them; they don’t help us.

    • Arctor on April 22, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    not follow the wiser precept of deferring to DoJ and Congress on this issue, let’s remind him again: 1. The Nuremburg Defense was rejected at the time by distinguished American jurists, 2. (Credit Paul Begala last night CNN)The US executed Japanese military officials who had waterboarded American POW’s, and 3. The Bush administration, through the military, felt it necessary to prosecute Lyndde England and Charles Grainer, thus how can they say it was not a crime (as you pointed out too, above.)

Comments have been disabled.