Brian Beutler

Brian Beutler is the Washington, DC correspondent for The Media Consortium, a network of progressive media organizations, including The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The Torture Taint

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. On November 4, 2002, Sam McCahon, chief legal adviser to the Defense Department's Criminal Investigation Task Force, raised objections to a legal opinion authored by Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver of the Army's Judge Advocate General Corps that greenlighted a number of controversial interrogation tactics. In a memo to CITF Commander Brittain Mallow, McCahon wrote: "Any policy decision to use [techniques that could...


Brian Beutler of the Media Consortium reports: 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since then, news reports have occasionally suggested that another Democratic party sell-out was imminent, only to be superseded by other reports indicating that negotiations were ongoing.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. A few moments ago, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer released what he refers to as a "bipartisan" "compromise" bill: The FISA Amendment Act of 2008 , which he authored along with Jay Rockefeller , Kit Bond , and Roy Blunt (respectively, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence committee, and the House Minority whip). The word "bipartisan" is technically indisputable. The word "compromise", by contrast, is a total farce. The most controversial elements of the February legislation were provisions that would have allowed the White House to...

"If the Detainee Dies, You're Doing it Wrong"

We have known for a long time that Donald Rumsfeld approved the use of 15 torture techniques in 2002, but a new congressional hearing exposes the depth of opposition he faced from the military.

Editors' Note: This article has been corrected . 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. "While it has been known for some time that military lawyers voiced strong objections to interrogation techniques in early 2003," said committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., "these November 2002 warnings from the military services -- expressed before the Secretary of...

The Friendship Offensive

Peace activists on Capitol Hill hope to stave off war with Iran through cross-cultural contact between ordinary citizens. Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus show their support.

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. On Tuesday afternoon, the activist groups Enough Fear and Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran set up a phone bank outside the Cannon House office building, inviting activists, reporters, and passersby to speak with people in Iran. Leaders of the two groups seek to build lasting person-to-person ties between Iranians and Americans in the hope of building sentiment against a military confrontation between the two nations. "The main idea is that if more people in this country have friends in Iran the two countries are less likely to go to war," explained Nick Jehlen, co-founder of Enough Fear. "It's as simple as that." The event, called "Time to Talk to Iran", was Jehlen's brainchild. Jehlen invited every member of...

Byron Dorgan's Contracting Fraud Crusade

Byron Dorgan has led a crusade against contractor fraud in Iraq. Now he wants a full congressional committee with subpoena power to finally expose the truth about war profiteering.

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. While Congress has launched sporadic inquiries into contracting fraud, one legislator, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has made it his mission to investigate contractor corruption. Dorgan chairs the Democratic Policy Committee , a Senate entity tasked with gathering and distributing policy, strategy, and oversight information to...