5.23.2009

DOJ Memos Show Abu Ghraib Ties Directly to Gitmo

Drip. Drip. Drip.

From Dan Froomkin (via Nieman Watchdog):

Soon after the photos of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib went public, Bush administration officials contrived a high-stakes disinformation campaign to prevent the American people from linking the White House to the vile, sadistic treatment of detainees in that Iraqi prison. They repeatedly insisted that the abuses were just the work of a few “bad apples.” They scoffed at the notion that their orders circumventing historic limits on interrogation were remotely responsible.

Five years later, they’re still at it, with former vice president Dick Cheney waging a clever campaign that would have the debate over government-sanctioned torture turn on what techniques were employed at the CIA’s secret prison -- and whether they “worked.” But the national debate should be a much broader one, as there is an ever-growing body of evidence definitively linking decisions made by Bush and Cheney not just to the torture at the CIA’s black sites, but to the pervasive, inhumane treatment of detainees – many of whom were utterly innocent -- at prison facilities such as Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantanamo as well. As desperately as the Bush team wanted to avoid the taint of Abu Ghraib in the 2004 re-election campaign, they appear now to be equally intent on minimizing the scale of their misdeeds in order to tamp down the public demand for some sort of thorough, official investigation into their conduct.

But “Torture Team” author Philippe Sands points out that a vivid illustration of the disinformation campaign – showing just how far officials were willing to mislead and lie in their desperate attempt to avoid culpability for Abu Ghraib – can now be found by comparing one of the newly-released Justice Department memos with statements made by then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales in June 2004.

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