THE THRESHOLD FOR TORTURE.

We know that waterboarding, which was considered among the most "extreme techniques" was only used on three "high value" detainees: Abu Zubayda, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. But other torture techniques were used on detainees whose intelligence value was negligible by comparison. Consider that Mohammed Jawad was subjected to the "frequent flier" sleep deprivation program at Guantanamo Bay, even though he was probably a minor at the time, and that the government's case against him was so weak that a judge recently ordered his release.

Now consider this statement from the IG report, which Glenn Greenwald pointed out and which I'll reproduce in its entirety:

Agency Officers report that reliance on analytical assessments that were unsupported by credible intelligence may have resulted in the application of EIT's without justification.

For American political purposes, everyone detained at Guantanamo is guilty until proven innocent--yet the government has lost 28 of the last 33 habeas petitions from Gitmo detainees, despite the Bush administration's assertion that all of the individuals in custody were "the worst of the worst." Well, according to the 2004 IG Report, not even the CIA believed that.

For some reason though, it seems almost impossible to get this simple point across: Not all the detainees in our custody have done something wrong. They have not been convicted of any crimes. Some of them have been imprisoned and tortured on the basis of very flimsy evidence. Some of them certainly have committed crimes, and should be tried in court--but the only reason torture and indefinite detention remain feasible as policies is that we're still operating from a presumption of guilt by definition. Unfortunately, I'm not really sure how one goes about changing that.

-- A. Serwer

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