As you might not have heard, the Red Cross has met with the 14 prisoners recently relocated from "black prisons" to Guantanamo Bay. What's in the US news is stuff like this:
Just days into the job, the Pentagon's new Southern Command chief made an overnight weekend visit to the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay - and declared captive conditions compatible with the Geneva Conventions.and this:
What is your opinion of the Military Commissions Act that President Bush signed this month?Or maybe this:
Renzi It allows military prisoners to see the evidence against them. It sticks with the Geneva Convention. Pres. Bush doesn't decide what constitutes torture. Congress and the intelligence oversight committees can watch over the process, and they have a list of what's acceptable. The CIA must report on its interrogation techniques. It includes new standards about how fast a case must move through the military court system.
I've been to our military prison at Guantanamo Bay twice. The interrogators are trying to move people through the system. The Red Cross oversees conditions.
These prisoners shouldn't be entitled to habeas corpus.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that an anti-terrorism law approved by President Bush last week undermines international humanitarian law.But nothing so plain and direct as this:
ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger warned that the Military Commissions Act "disrupts" parts of the Geneva Conventions that are regarded as "elementary considerations of humanity."
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Suskind, the Red Cross recently visited all of the prisoners at Guantanamo who had been transferred from secret CIA prisons, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh. Do we know more about these CIA prisons, or "Black Sites" as a result of this visit?This is why President Bush won't talk about "techniques" and the euphemism is "enhanced interrogation" and Vice-President Cheney thinks a little fake drowning to save a life (an unprovable assertion, of course) is a good thing. Because, in the deepest, most secret places, we've gone medieval on the enemy. But here, as they say, is the money quote:
Suskind: We know that almost everything from the tool kit was tried: extraordinary techniques that included hot and cold water-boarding and threats of various kinds. We tried virtually everything with Binalshibh. But he was resistant, and my understanding of that interrogation is that we got very, very little from it. At one point, there was some thinking that we should put out misinformation that Binalshihb had been cooperative, he had received money and he was living in luxury. So that would mean that his friends and family, who obviously are known to al-Qaida, might face retribuition, and we ended up not doing that.
Suskind: He was really the prize. He is the 9/11 operational planner, a kind of general in the al-Qaida firmament. He was water-boarded, hot and cold, all matter of deprivations, beatings, threats. He told us some things, but frankly things that professional interrogators say could have been gotten otherwise.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: With waterboarding, the prisoner is made to feel as though he is drowing, even if he isn't really at risk of dying. There are reports that Mohammed was a kind of unoffical record-holder when it came to waterboarding.
Suskind: With extraordinary minutes passing he earned a sort of grudging respect from interrogators. The thing they did with Mohammed is that we had captured his children, a boy and a girl, age 7 and 9. And at the darkest moment we threatened grievous injury to his children if he did not cooperate. His response was quite clear: "That's fine. You can do what you want to my children, and they will find a better place with Allah."
Suskind: ... yes, and without paying this terrific price, namely: America's moral standing. We poured plenteous gasoline on the fires of jihadist recruitment.Bush has never denied knowing what the techniques are. He's never denied knowing what's being done, or approving it. He's just played games, insisting that what we do isn't torture.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: So the average interrogator at a Black Site understands more about the mistakes made than the president?
Suskind: The president understands more about the mistakes than he lets on. He knows what the most-skilled interrogators know too. He gets briefed, and he was deeply involved in this process from the beginning. The president loves to talk to operators.
Now, it appears, the Red Cross says otherwise. But good luck finding that out before the first Tuesday in November.