Even as they worked out the details of how interrogation techniques widely regarded as torture would be used on detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Pentagon officials sought to keep the blood off Defense Department hands.
Before the Pentagon's detainee interrogation policy was finalized in 2002, military officials -- both supporters and opponents of the controversial techniques it condoned -- concerned themselves primarily with protecting their organizations from scrutiny rather than with preventing the techniques from being instituted in the first place. One senior Pentagon official even recommended removing detainees from the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so that techniques that appeared to violate the U.S. Code of Military Justice could not be attributed to his agency.
After Democrats stood their ground and refused to pass a series of draconian FISA amendments in February, negotiations over the wiretapping law went behind closed doors. In the months since then, news reports have occasionally suggested that another Democratic party sell-out was imminent, only to be superseded by other reports indicating that negotiations were ongoing. Until today.
Over the objections of senior lawyers across the military, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, acting on the advice of Department of Defense General Counsel William "Jim" Haynes, approved the use of 15 harsh interrogation techniques requested by officials at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be used on alleged "enemy combatants."
Rumsfeld's December 2, 2002, decision has been widely reported, but the fact that the techniques he approved were heavily questioned just one month earlier -- including by senior military officials in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines -- was revealed at a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Armed Services committee.
As George W. Bush focused his final presidential visit to Europe on Iran's nuclear program, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus joined a group of peace activists on Capitol Hill at an event designed to foster dialogue between everyday Iranians and Americans.
In the wake of a recent Defense Department report from the Office of Inspector General that documents (PDF file) the improper accounting of billions of dollars in war contracting funds, the issue of waste, fraud, and abuse in Iraq is once again in the spotlight on Capitol Hill.
Those findings were amplified on Tuesday when the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington-based watchdog group, obtained a separate inspector general report that found that the number of Pentagon auditors overseeing military contracts has not kept pace with defense spending, which has doubled under the Bush administration -- creating conditions that are ripe for corruption and abuse.