Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Torture in Iraq

So I'm always about an issue and a half behind on my reading of the New Yorker. Which means I just read Jane Mayer's intensely depressing and upsetting article about the death of Manadil al-Jamadi at the hands of the CIA in Abu Ghraib. If you haven't read it yet, I suggest that you do. There is no doubt in my mind that the US is torturing detainees in Iraq and Romania and Thailand and wherever else. And there's no accountability -- and will be none under this administration, McCain amendment or no McCain amendment. Furthermore, as the Guardian reports yesterday:
More than 35,000 Iraqis have been detained by American troops since the invasion of the country but only a tiny fraction have been convicted of wrongdoing....

About 21,000 have been released without ever being charged or tried. Of the 1,300 who have been charged, only half have been found guilty.

Some 13,500 Iraqis are still being detained, more than double last year's total, according to official American figures.
This means, even for those advocates of torture (and I am not one -- if every single person detained were guilty of some charge I would be against torturing any of them), that we're probably abusing a good number of innocent Iraqis.


"The president already decided."

I came across a transcript of a 2 November presentation at the Council on Foreign Relations featuring Uzi Dayan, former security adviser to Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, and there is an interesting little tidbit on the lead-up to the war in Iraq.
Look, first of all, the whole situation -- it's a good one for Israel. We are not [sic] the enemy of Iraq. Iraq took part, participated in all the wars against Israel from '48.

And we don't have a common border with Iraq. We don't have a joint border. We don't have conflict of interest. And the same time, Iraq was kind of a bitter enemy against Israel.

So making this change in Iraq is very good from the Israeli strategic point of view. And actually, all the main enemies of Israel are on a kind of -- on what is called the elephant trail of this war. I'm talking about Iraq, I'm talking about Iran, talking about Syria, about Libya. So I think that for Israel it's a good move....

And I was in charge those time [2001 and 2002] on the strategic relations between Jerusalem and Washington. And it was the first time that I could come to Washington and ask what I was always been -- would ask here: "What is your strategy?" So I said phase two is going to be Iraq. And I said, "What's going to be the trigger to this war?" And the officials that I talked to said, "What do you mean by trigger?"

I said, "This is a war that you -- you have to set up a strategic goal, and then, not less important, derived achievable missions in order that the generals' and the politicians' statement will have a common language. Well, what are we going to achieve? It's not enough to set a strategic goal. You have to derive from it achievable missions. And then you need a trigger."

And the answer that I got here was, "We don't need a trigger. The president already decided," which is a very interesting response.
Not that this is shocking news at this point, of course, but it's also interesting to note the level of involvement of the Israelis in the lead-up to the war.

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