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Torturers Desperately Try to Justify Their Crimes in Wake of Bin Laden Killing

7:51 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

Much of the aftermath of the killing of Osama Bin Laden Sunday night in Pakistan has consisted of sophomoric chest-thumping proclaiming a twisted version of “justice” that Peterr very eloquently exposed here. There is another trend in the response, however, that is even more disgusting. A number of people involved in the torture program created and implemented during the George W. Bush administration are now trying to claim that Bin Laden would not have been found and killed without torture. Marcy Wheeler was out in front of those claims, debunking them before they came out and has stayed on the task with more details as the torturers continue their spin. The torturers are getting more desperate, and today we have none other than Jose Rodriguez, who ordered much of the torture as head of the CounterTerrorism Center (and then was the one who destroyed videotaped evidence of torture, only to be given a “get out of jail free” card by Barack Obama and Eric Holder), appearing in the press to justify his actions.

Rodriguez gave his first interview after escaping justice to Massimo Calabresi of Time. Here is the most disgusting bit from Rodriguez:

Jose Rodriguez ran the CIA’s CounterTerrorism Center from 2002 to 2005 during the period when top al-Qaeda leaders Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) and Abu Faraj al-Libbi were taken into custody and subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” at secret black site prisons overseas. KSM was subjected to waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other techniques. Al Libbi was not waterboarded, but other EITs were used on him.

“Information provided by KSM and Abu Faraj al Libbi about Bin Laden’s courier was the lead information that eventually led to the location of [bin Laden’s] compound and the operation that led to his death,” Rodriguez tells TIME in his first public interview.

Calabresi then quotes National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor debunking Rodriguez’ claim: “There is no way that information obtained by [enhanced interrogation techniques] was the decisive intelligence that led us directly to bin Laden.”
Read the rest of this entry →

When Looking at Lindsey’s Slip, Don’t Miss the “But”

11:30 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

As a Reserve Judge Advocate, one would think that Lindsey Graham would know better than to "out" a spy. (US Air Force photo)

Marcy Wheeler has already pointed out a huge mistake that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made in discussing the status of Raymond Davis, who sits in a jail in Lahore, Pakistan after killing two Pakistanis on Januray 27.  Besides Graham’s possible slip of the tongue in characterizing Davis as an “agent”, Graham’s statement reported by AFP is worthy of scrutiny for other reasons, as well:

But Senator Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on Leahy’s subcommittee, strongly warned against any rollback of assistance to Pakistan, citing the need for help in the war in Afghanistan and the hunt for suspected terrorists.

“Our relationship’s got to be bigger than this,” Graham said.

“This is a friction point, this is a troubling matter, it doesn’t play well in Afghanistan. We can’t throw this agent over, I don’t know all the details, but we cannot define the relationship based on one incident because it is too important at a time when we’re making progress in Afghanistan,” he said.

Graham is anxious here not to suspend payments to Pakistan and cites non-existent “progress” in the profound failure that is the US war in Afghanistan.  As a long-time anti-Muslim war monger, Graham has much of his career invested in promoting our multiple wars.  However, could it be that in broaching the subject of “throw(ing) this agent over”, even while claiming he doesn’t want to do so, Graham is sending a signal that he thinks we should?  After all, the “we can’t throw” part of Graham’s statement has a “but” following it, where he points out that his beloved war must be more important that this one incident.

In suggesting this possibility, it becomes even more significant that Graham would “downgrade” Davis’ status from President Obama referring to him as “our diplomat” to now being a mere agent.    It seems far more likely to me that the government could abandon a spy but never could abandon a diplomat.  Note a concern that crops up in a Reuters article from Thursday:

The postponement to March 14 will likely be met with exasperation in Washington, where the Obama administration has urged Pakistan to free consular employee Raymond Davis and avoid a precedent being set for trials of U.S. officials abroad.

So now an important concern driving the push to have Davis freed is the “precedent being set for trials of U.S. officials abroad.”  And that concern comes less than two weeks after George W. Bush abruptly canceled a trip to Switzerland, perhaps out of fear that he might face prosecution for torture.

There clearly are significant political forces within Pakistan who prefer a trial for Davis:

In an argument before the court in Lahore, the advocate general of Punjab Province, Khawaja Haris, said the authorities had filed a “double murder case” against Mr. Davis.

/snip/

The judge in Lahore, Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry, ordered the Foreign Ministry to present its findings on Mr. Davis’s immunity in three weeks, further frustrating the Obama administration’s effort to win his speedy release.

/snip/

The argument by Mr. Haris before the court echoed the hard line taken by former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Mr. Qureshi lost his job in a cabinet reshuffle last week because he said he refused to issue the “blanket immunity” for Mr. Davis demanded by the United States, and favored by President Zardari and his close advisers.

By downgrading Davis’ status from diplomat to agent, perhaps Graham is hoping that Davis will merely be locked away and forgotten.  It’s too bad for Graham that Pakistan is not as lawless as the US in this regard, so there is little chance that Davis will be held indefinitely without being tried.  The US also can’t rely on its infamous Hague Invasion Act which is still in effect, because it only applies to armed rescue of those in the armed forces facing charges in the International Criminal Court.

Is it possible that Senator Graham thinks we should sacrifice a spy in order to continue our war efforts at full speed ahead?  He appears to be at least floating that possibility as a trial balloon.

Why US Foreign Policy Is Flummoxed by Egypt’s Uprising

7:35 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence via Wikimedia Commons

As the United States struggles to respond to rapidly changing conditions in Egypt, it is informative to look at the arc of US foreign policy over the past half century or so. Foggy Bottom is stuck in a fog precisely because the approach to foreign policy has not evolved sufficiently since the demise of the Cold War. US foreign policy today is just as dependent on supporting individual despotic leaders today as it was in the 1950′s and 1960′s.

Consider the “crowning achievement” of the neocons under George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda”. Because they were imposing freedom at the end of a gun, rather than through the actions of the people, Bush’s new governments in Afghanistan and Iraq have given us corrupt leaders in the form of Hamid Karzai and Nouri al Maliki, whose governments are, at best, only loosely engaged with their citizens. Laying aside for a moment the underlying agenda of the robber barons promoting the neocon agenda to enrich themselves, note just how disengaged these governments, formed under US leadership, are from their citizens. Karazai still operates as if he is a small time drug lord and is actively squirreling away assets and real estate in Dubai. Iraq was unable to form a government for over a year after elections, because there was no real mechanism built into the US-designed “democracy” for people to have a voice.

The US has long backed Hosni Mubarak, and as Marcy has noted, the new Vice President has been an essential cog in the US rendition-torture process, so he is a natural replacement for Mubarak as the typical thug repressing his people to promote US foreign policy. The US stumbles in considering Mohammed el Baradei, perhaps because he is not proposing to come in as a “strongman”, but is instead saying that all he wants is a voice for the people.

In 2009, the US was slow to support a popular uprising in Iran against a despot who is not in favor in Foggy Bottom. However, perhaps because we had not yet chosen a new “Shah”, the US did not provide enough signals to the people of Iran that we would support their moves to overthrow the suppressive regime.

I believe that our foreign policy is too stuck on the wrong passage from the Declaration of Inedpendence. Policy today is centered on this clause from the Declaration:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient cause

Perhaps Foggy Bottom should spend some time reading how that paragraph begins:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Clearly, Mubarak has lost (if he ever had it) the consent of those whom he governs. Likewise for Karzai and al Maliki. A new US foreign policy with the consent of the governed as the primary focus would go a long way toward having a proper response to popular uprisings like the one already completed in Tunisia, the one under way in Egypt, and those that might be beginning in Yemen, Jordan and Syria.

In fact, it is also the failure to take this approach that was the basis for the Bush administration’s utter failure when Hezbollah Hamas (corrected h/t Hannibal in comments) won the democratic elections in Palestine. By refusing to even acknowledge their win, the US emboldened Israel’s brutal stranglehold which continues today under Obama.

h/t: I have seen several people over the past few days make the observation of US foreign policy being mired in the Cold War era and felt the idea needed further fleshing out. I apologize for not remembering and being able to note just those who brought up the concept.

Who Are Those Guys Who Want Petraeus to Get His Fifth Star?

6:56 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

White House photo of Vets for Freedom appearing with George W. Bush on July 20, 2007.

An op-ed appeared in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal bearing the title “A Fifth Star for David Petraeus“. The byline for the op-ed lists Pete Hegseth and Wade Zirkle and the Journal provides this “description” of their association at the bottom of the piece: “Messrs. Hegseth and Zirkle are directors at Vets for Freedom. Mr. Hegseth served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division and will deploy to Afghanistan in 2011. Mr. Zirkle served two deployments to Iraq as a Marine infantry officer and is a recipient of the Purple Heart.” The Journal provides no further information on Vets for Freedom. Thursday night, Pouting Baby gave us the description of Vets for Freedom off their website:

Vets for Freedom is a nonpartisan organization established by combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our mission is to educate the American public about the importance of achieving success in these conflicts by applying our first-hand knowledge to issues of American strategy and tactics in Iraq and Afghanistan.

/snip/

Vets for Freedom PAC is a Political Action Committee whose mission is to help candidates-mostly combat veterans-who believe in achieving success in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the overall War on Terrorism, get elected to the United States Congress and other Federal positions.

Digging a little further, I note that Vets for Freedom places Republican Allen West at the top of their list of candidates they supported in the 2010 elections. Bragging about getting such a deranged person elected to Congress tells me a lot about where this group is coming from.

But there is much more. SourceWatch has a very long, highly documented portrait of Vets for Freedom, which includes this pithy, one-sentence summation:

It was, in essence, a Republican front group managed by Republican-affiliated public relations[8], media[9], legal[10], and political consultants, including former White House spokesman Taylor Gross, to defeat candidates who advocate an end to the US occupation of Iraq.

When he provided testimony against confirmation of Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court, Mother Jones provided this description of Hegseth:

Finally, there’s Pete Hegseth, the former Bear Stearns banker and head of the Republican-friendly political action committee Vets for Freedom, whose way through Princeton was paid by the anti-gay Family Research Council. While a student, he started the Princeton Tory, a conservative school paper funded with thousands of dollars from national right-wing groups, including the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Leadership Institute, and YAF. Hegseth used the Tory’s pages to attack “atheist public schools” while advocating spanking and “a return of the acceptability of the ‘homemaker’ vocation.” He also called the National Organization for Women “a radical, leftist, feminist organization” and, for a would-be Army civil affairs officer, did a really poor job of predicting success in Iraq in late 2002:

I believe, if done correctly, eliminating Saddam and liberating Iraq could be the ‘Normandy Invasion’ or ‘fall of the Berlin Wall’ of our generation…the Iraqi people are eager to be rid of Saddam, and there is equally encouraging evidence that republican principles could thrive there.

In 2008, Hegseth pulled down a $100,000 base salary as the head of Vets for Freedom. Tax filings from that election year also show his “nonpartisan” group has deep GOP ties, paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars to right-wing consultants, including one lobby group connected to former Republican senator Bill Frist, the Bush-Cheney campaigns, and Frank Donatelli, the treasurer of Youngblood’s YAF.

In a glowing profile of him at Power Line, we learn more about Hegseth when they quote a newspaper column by Katherine Kersten:

At Princeton, Hegseth joined ROTC and the National Guard. But the opportunity to serve came sooner than he expected. In March 2004, three days after he started at Bear Stearns — and three weeks after he married Meredith Schwarz, his high school sweetheart — he was called up.

Hegseth was sent to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The SourceWatch article also contained the White House photo you see above, where Pete Hegseth is closest to George W. Bush. The photo was taken on July 20, 2007. In a very interesting coincidence, that is also the date that George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13440, which provided a “new” interpretation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and has been described as allowing “harsh” interrogations.

Isn’t that interesting? On the day a former Guantanamo guard (who later would go on to help a elect a former torturer to Congress) visits him, Bush signs an Executive Order that re-starts torture.

To see a little bit of Hegseth in action catapulting the propaganda on Iraq, here is a very low resolution YouTube posted by Vets for Freedom of Hegseth appearing with Glenn Beck during the 2008 “National Heroes Tour” that Vets for Freedom organized to gin up support for the Iraq War:

As for Wade Zirkle, he doesn’t appear much better. Here’s a happy picture of him with Gordon Liddy.

Is Vets for Freedom preparing to support David Petraeus as a candidate for President? Shouldn’t the Wall Street Journal have mentioned that Vets for Freedom supports candidates for office who are veterans and support “victory” in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Obama Fails to Restore Separation of Church and State

7:02 am in Military, Religion by Jim White

Army photo found by Jason Leopold demonstrating religious nature of the military's "spiritual fitness" concept.

Despite famously, spectacularly and cravenly throwing his long-time pastor under the bus during the 2008 Democratic primary, Barack Obama has failed to steer our country back to its founding principle of the strict separation between church and state. Because George W. Bush relied heavily on radical Christian fundamentalists to be elected, it was not surprising when he followed through on a campaign promise and established an office of faith-based initiatives.

Obama, however, has continued the office, with only minor changes to the window dressing. Furthermore, despite public attention on The Family and its nefarious activities, Obama defied calls to stay away and still spoke last year to the National Prayer Breakfast, which is organized by the same group.

Although the US is not yet to the point that politicians will be killed because they are viewed as likely to weaken a blasphemy law or there are mass killings based on religious differences,  how far away are those days now that the military sees the need for extra “counseling” for soldiers who are atheists, when a House Committee Chair plans hearings on the “radicalization” of a faith he differs with, and some cadets at the Air Force Academy replied in a survey that they “felt in fear” since they were not Christian fundamentalists?  Integration of radical Christian fundamentalist (or any other religion’s) views into the US government and military is a huge danger to our country and to the world, and yet Obama seems just as fearful of attacking this problem as he is in the other political battles in which he has capitulated.

Here is how Jason Leopold broke the story this week on the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) test which refers soldiers for counseling if they fail to meet the standard of “spiritual fitness”:

An experimental, Army mental-health, fitness initiative designed by the same psychologist whose work heavily influenced the psychological aspects of the Bush administration’s torture program is under fire by civil rights groups and hundreds of active-duty soldiers. They say it unconstitutionally requires enlistees to believe in God or a “higher power” in order to be deemed “spiritually fit” to serve in the Army.

/snip/

CSF is comprised of the Soldier Fitness Tracker and Global Assessment Tool, which measures soldiers’ “resilience” in five core areas: emotional, physical, family, social and spiritual. Soldiers fill out an online survey made up of more than 100 questions, and if the results fall into a red area, they are required to participate in remedial courses in a classroom or online setting to strengthen their resilience in the disciplines in which they received low scores. The test is administered every two years. More than 800,000 Army soldiers have taken it thus far.

Despite the claims that the “spiritual fitness” measured is not religious, Leopold even found the illustration above for the program, showing a group of soldiers joining hands in a circle to pray beneath a heading of “spiritual”.

That disturbing level of pressure on religious conformism begins early in the training for some military personnel.  In a report that the Air Force Academy tried to hide, it was found that many cadets are subjected to severe pressures if they do not conform to the majority Christian fundamentalism that is rampant at the Academy:

The results showed that 141 cadets have been subjected to unwanted proselytizing more than once; 212 had been approached once or twice; and 23 cadets “felt in fear” because of their religious beliefs.

Sadly, Representative Peter King chose merely to attack the messenger when the folly of his planned hearings on the “radicalization” of US Muslims was exposed in the New York Times:

“I’m certainly not going to take any political advice or direction from The New York Times,” King told The Hill. “I have more contempt for The New York Times than anything or anyone I can think of.”

How can King not see the absurdity of his position? He has been one of the leading critics of those who would hold actual judicial trials for Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo who have been subjected to torture or arrested based on false information obtained under torture.  Yet, he is holding the hearings on Muslim radicalization because he is upset that an imam would advise his congregants not to talk to a government that has jailed and tortured Muslims based on false information.  King is emblematic of how US policy that is increasingly fueled by Christian fundamentalism radicalizes Muslims.  His hearings will only add to the problem and provide additional fuel for further radicalization.

It is not yet too late for Obama to end this dangerous movement toward the establishment of Christian fundamentalism as the US religion.  He could start by ending the “spiritual fitness” evaluation requirement for deployment and by removing administrators at the Air Force Academy who have nurtured an environment where those who are not Christian fundamentalists fear persecution.  He could stay away from this year’s National Prayer breakfast, which appears to be scheduled for February 3.  He would score bonus points in this regard by citing Matthew 6:6-7 back to the organizers:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

If Obama continues to avoid confrontation with this trend, it won’t be long before radicalized Republican fundamentalists, who already campaign on claims that the US is a “(Judeo-)Christian nation”, amend the Constitution to allow establishment of a US religion.  How long after such an establishment would it take to get our first blasphemy law? Or is the Oklahoma initiative banning Sharia law a type of blasphemy law already established in the US?

With His Training Myth Pierced Yet Again, Will Petraeus’ Political Ambitions Ever Suffer?

7:40 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

General Babaker Zebari

General Babaker Zebari, center (photo: Stephen Baack on Flickr)

BBC is reporting Thursday that Iraq’s highest ranking army officer has said that his country is not ready to take responsibility for its own security:

Lt Gen Babaker Zebari warned that the Iraqi military might not be ready to take control for another decade.

/snip/

Gen Zebari told a defence conference in Baghdad that the Iraqi army would not be able to ensure the country’s security until 2020 and that the US should keep its troops in Iraq until then.

"At this point, the withdrawal [of US forces] is going well, because they are still here, but the problem will start after 2011," he said.

It should be kept in mind that the myth of training Iraqi forces to take over their own security is a product of General David Petraeus’ long history of spinning the media. Remember that Petraeus entered the realm of politics by publishing an Op-Ed in the Washington Post on the eve of the 2004 elections. His overly optimistic description of his "success" in training Iraqis is thought to have played at least a partial role in helping George W. Bush to a second term as President. Here is the heart of Petraeus’ 2004 spin:

Nonetheless, there are reasons for optimism. Today approximately 164,000 Iraqi police and soldiers (of which about 100,000 are trained and equipped) and an additional 74,000 facility protection forces are performing a wide variety of security missions. Equipment is being delivered. Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired. Command and control structures and institutions are being reestablished.

Less than three years later, of course, Petraeus then led the political spin surrounding his "surge" in Iraq, sending in more troops and starting anew on the training mission. The previous claims of training success were discarded without note and training started all over.

Today, the Obama administration is employing semantics to claim the end of combat operations in Iraq this summer while leaving 50,000 combat-ready troops in Iraq under a re-designation as advisers. This move allows the myth of Petraeus’ training of Iraqi forces to remain in operation, while the advisers stand ready to fill the gaps left by the poorly trained Iraqi forces.

Thus, Zebari’s plea can be read as a request to keep these advisers in Iraq for another ten years. Heaven forbid anyone should try to pierce the political aspirations of Petraeus and admit that his claims to training are a total scam perpetrated on the US government and the citizens who have funded his self-aggrandizement. Just consider the adulatory tone of this American Forces Press Service article from April, 2009:

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the author of the military’s counterinsurgency manual, yesterday explained the principles that led to success in Iraq and how they apply to the fight in Afghanistan.

The commander of U.S. Central Command spoke to a packed stadium at Kansas State University, invited as part of the prestigious Alfred M. Landon lecture series on public issues hosted there.

To a resounding ovation, he stepped to a podium that has seen three standing presidents and five former presidents, the current and three previous defense secretaries, a slew of politicians, ambassadors, Pulitzer and Nobel prize winners, but only a handful of military generals since the series began in 1966.

With his own Ivy League doctorate degree and tours as a military professor, Petraeus is no stranger to academia and is friends with the university’s president.

This article should remove all doubt on the question of whether Petraeus has political aspirations. Not only does he have them, but he is willing to use the military press to start building a presidential aura. As long as the government and the corporate press hold onto the myth that his superior ability to train foreign forces allows those countries we have destroyed to eventually take over their own security arrangements, he will continue on his path of eventually running for President.

Should General Zebari continue to provide evidence against the Petraeus training myth, it would not be surprising for him to be replaced soon. The Petraeus myth is quite fragile at this point and I would suspect that anyone who is seen as a threat to it would be slated for silencing.

Where Is Everybody? They’re Piling onto Helen Thomas

6:52 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

Among others, Attaturk and Phoenix Woman have pointed out the hypocrisy in Helen Thomas being drummed out of the White House press corps for improper remarks while real racists like Patrick Buchanan still figure prominently in the village culture of Washington. I’d like to dwell for a moment on the magnitude of the loss we have suffered with Thomas’ forced retirement.

On April 23, 2008, Helen Thomas put Dana Perino on the spot by calling out Bush Administration lies that the US does not torture when the evidence pointed out that waterboarding had been approved at the highest levels. Just a few days prior to this exchange, George W. Bush had publicly admitted to approving this form of torture. Listen carefully to the exchange between Thomas and Perino, and note especially Thomas’ exasperation when Perino moves on to other topics, around 1:36 in the clip:

Thomas clearly asks "Where is everybody?" That phrase will forever embody Thomas’ career for me. She was there, day after day, asking the hard questions that no other member of the Washington press corps dared ask. She tried to lift the veil of disinformation and spin daily coming from the White House briefing room, whether the administration in charge was Democratic or Republican. On this particular issue, she knew that the President of the United States had admitted publicly to committing a war crime, and she was the only person in the room willing to point it out.

It should come as no surprise then, that when Thomas is caught on tape making inappropriate remarks, there is no investigation to see whether there has been selective editing of the tape to make her remarks more inflammatory. Instead, the Obama White House has joined the attacks on Thomas, condemning her remarks and blithely tossing her legendary career away. That is very much to their advantage, since the Obama White House is busy hiding the crimes of the Bush White House. With Thomas out of the picture, there is nobody left to ask the difficult questions.

Official Joint Chiefs Policy for Long-Term Detention and Interrogation of Civilians

8:13 am in Military, Torture by Jim White

An article posted Friday on the website for The Times of London points out that Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, has submitted a sworn statement confirming that President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld all knew that innocent civilians were detained at Guantanamo:

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.

The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.

Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell’s chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was “politically impossible to release them”.

While doing background research and reading that was inspired by this post and the ensuing comment thread at Emptywheel, I ran across a document that I believe outlines the Joint Chiefs policy that was cobbled together to justify the long term detention and interrogation of innocent civilians that was described in the Times article.

The publication, which is a 298 page pdf file, can be found here. The document is titled "Joint and National Intelligence Support to Military Operations". I have not read the entire document, but my attention was directed to Appendix G through my initial Google internet search on the term "mobile detainee review and screening teams". Appendix G is titled "Joint Exploitation Centers" and has this graphic at the beginning:

joint exploitation centers

Moving down to section 4 of this appendix, titled "Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center" we find the description of the responsibilities of the centers:

b. Responsibilities. Service component interrogators collect tactical intelligence from EPWs and ECs based on joint force J-2 criteria. EPWs (i.e., senior level EPWs) and ECs are screened by the components; those of further intelligence potential are identified and processed for follow-on interrogation and debriefing by the JIDC to satisfy theater strategic and operational requirements. In addition to EPW and ECs, the JIDC may also interrogate civilian detainees, and debrief refugees as well as other nonprisoner sources for operational and strategic information. The JIDC may identify individuals as possessing intelligence of national strategic significance; these persons may be relocated to a strategic exploitation center for longer-term interrogation.

Acronyms present here: EPW = enemy prisoner of war; EC = enemy combatant; J-2 = intelligence directorate of a joint staff; JIDC = joint interrogation and debriefing center.

There is a lot packed into this small paragraph. We start with normal interrogation and debriefing of enemy prisoners of war and enemy combatants, but somehow these same joint interrogation and debriefing centers are supplied with civilian detainees and even refugees [don't refugees have special, protected status under the Geneva Conventions?] to interview, and then, somehow, from among these various groups interviewed, the JIDC "may identify individuals" who are sent for longer term interrogation (i.e. to Guantanamo) if the JIDC decides that they posses "intelligence of national strategic significance". There seems to be no restriction that the long-term detainees only come from the EPW or EC groups, so innocent civilians could end up in Guantanamo under this policy, just as Wilkerson has documented.

The policy outlined in the document is official, as we see in the preface that "The guidance in this publication is authoritative". The preface also notes that the document is a revision of 1996 and 1998 documents, so it appears that this policy document is another example of Bush-era "after the fact" justification/documentation providing official policy to authorize crimes already committed.