But first a little . . . er, light comedy:
It is safe to say that the wheels have come all the way off the Bush administration's legal wagon regarding the justification for indefinite detentions of alleged terrorist suspects when a three-judge appeals court panel with one of the most conservative judges in the land resorts to quoting Lewis Carroll.
In ruling that accusations against Huzaifa Parhat, an ethnic Uighur from a Muslim region of western China held for over six years were based on unverifiable claims, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia compared those claims to the absurd declaration of a character in Carroll's poem "The Hunting of the Snark:
"I have said it thrice: What I tell you is three times true."More here.
THIS ONE'S GONNA BE INTERESTINGThe Pentagon this week filed death penalty charges against Abd al Rahim Nashiri, whom it says masterminded the Al Qaeda-led suicide bombing of the USS Cole off Aden, Yemen, in 2000 that killed 17 sailors and wounded 47 other people.
If the 43-year-old Saudi rings a bell with those of you keeping a torture regime scorecard, it is because he is one of three people whom the CIA acknowledges waterboarding, while Nashiri has told officers at Guantánamo Bay that he concocted a confession to appease his torturers.
The charge sheet against Nashiri seeks to try him through the military commission system at the Navy base that the Supreme Court ruled against last month and has produced paroxysms of horror among habeas loathing right wingers.
Air Force Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann, who announced the charges, credited them to the work of "a multitude of government agencies," including the Defense and Justice departments, and responded to a reporter's question about the waterboarding allegation by saying that it would be up to a military judge at trial to decide whether to accept evidence obtained in that manner.
"That's the beauty of the system," Hartmann said.
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESEOur pals the Chinese have played a largely unacknowledged role in the torture regime.
It was recently revealed that military personnel at Guantánamo allegedly "softened up" detainees at the request of Chinese intelligence officials who had come to interrogate the men, who include Uighurs, while it has now been learned that military trainers based an entire 2002 interrogation class on a chart outlining torture techniques copied verbatim from an Air Force study of Chinese techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions from American prisoners, many of them false.
The New York Times reports that:
"The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo and by the CIA."Some methods were used against a small number of prisoners at Guantánamo before 2005, when Congress banned the use of coercion by the military. The CIA is still authorized by President Bush to use a number of secret "alternative" interrogation methods.
QUOTABLECIA veteran Milt Bearden in The Washington Independent:
"Throughout this ugly drama, U.S. leaders have assured the public that the extreme interrogation measures used on detainees have thwarted acts of terrorism and saved thousands of American lives. The trouble with such claims is that professionals who know something of interrogation or intelligence don't believe them. This is not just because the old hands overwhelmingly believe that torture doesn't work -- it doesn't -- but also because they know that torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize."More here.
SUPPORT FOR TORTURE INCREASESWhen asked whether they would condone torture when used on terrorists in order to save lives, a large and growing minority of Americans say that they would.
That number now stands at 44 percent, according to a poll released by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a project managed by the University of Maryland. While some 53 percent think all torture should be banned, the 44 percent figure is an 8 percentage point increase since the same question was asked in 2006.
The pollsters had little explanation for the apparent rise in public tolerance for torture except to note that Americans receive a steady stream of news reports about terrorist attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.