Earlier this week, a Frenchman named Marc Aubrière escaped from his kidnappers, who were members of an extremist Islamist group. He then miraculously “appeared on the streets of Mogadishu,” according to The New York Times. He sneaked past sleeping guards, walking barefoot so he would not wake them, and then managed to get free, following the example of Times reporter David Rohde. Earlier this summer , Rohde escaped from his his kidnappers, members of the Taliban who had held him in a mountainous area of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
As the CIA inspector general’s 2004 report shows, the abuse of detainees was systematic and brutal and as exacting as a lawyer’s brief: “In 2004, when Daniel B. Levin, then the acting assistant attorney general in the counsel’s office, sent a letter to the C.I.A. reauthorizing waterboarding, he dictated the terms: no more than two sessions of two hours each, per day, with both a doctor and a psychologist in attendance,” wroteScott Shane and Mark Mazzetti in The New York Times. The details about the interrogation program are chilling and reveal the extent to which government lawyers were involved in its execution.
"Interrogators got results, could face charges." That is a banner headline in today’s print edition of The Washington Times, and it neatly captures the conservative argument for President Bush's so-called enhanced interrogation program.
In this version, the American officers who had waterboarded the terrorists were doing a nasty job, but somebody had to do it, and it is not fair to punish them for carrying out their patriotic duty. It would be easy to dismiss such claims as the views of right-wing ideologues, except that nearly a decade after the terrorist attacks, the argument continues to capture people’s imagination.
Admiral Mike Mullin, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press that, “I believe we’ve got to start to turn this thing around from a security standpoint in the next 12 to 18 months.” To that end, American commanders want more troops. Given that Afghanistan has 40,000 villages, however, the number of troops would have to be around 480,000, as Dan Fordwrites.
For weeks, people in Washington had wondered what had shocked CIA director Leon Panetta so much that he decided to expose the exploits of a 2004 government program to assassinate high-level Al Qaeda members. As Mark Mazzettireports in today’s New York Times, it was Blackwater USA that convinced him, since the private security contractors had been hired to assist with the operations: “Bringing outsiders into a program with lethal authority raised deep concerns about accountability in covert operations.”