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Odierno and Petraeus vs. Cheney on Abuse as a Terrorist Recruitment Tool

odeirno-raymond.thumbnail.jpgYou remember Dick Cheney’s defense of torture from two weeks ago, I’m sure. This was my favorite excerpt:

Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a “recruitment tool” for the enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left, “We brought it on ourselves."

Well, tell it to Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq. As referenced in today’s Washington Post story about U.S.-Pakistan relations, Odierno, along with his Central Command boss, Gen. David Petraeus, submitted a recently-declassified statement (warning: PDF) to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in support of keeping 21 photos depicting detainee abuse hidden. Among the reasons he supports that designation? The role of images from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib in recruiting terrorists. Here’s Odierno blaming America first:

The graphic revelations of detainee abuse motivated some terrorists including foreign fighters from Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia to join the jihad. Reporting also indicates that some organizations may have staged and disseminated photographs of Arab women being abused by men in U.S. uniforms. Extremist groups intentionally misrepresented the depicted abuse as evidence of the widespread rape of female Iraqi detainees by U.S. soldiers as a further motivation for recruitment and to support the exhortation for attacks against Coalition Forces (CF).

And here’s Petraeus, who must be one of those mantra-chanting conspiracy theorists Cheney derided.

An influx of foreign fighters from outside Afghanistan and new recruits from within Afghan could materialize, as the new photos serve as potent recruiting material to attract new members to join the insurgency.

These are statements made by Odierno and Petraeus on May 27 under penalty of perjury. Whatever you think about the release of the torture photos — and it’s worth reading Odierno and Petraeus’ statements for stark appraisals of the security situations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan — there can be little doubt that detainee abuse is a strategic asset for al-Qaeda and affiliated insurgent and terrorist organizations. Cheney can be proud of his role in doing bin Laden’s work for him.

Crossposted to The Streak.

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Spencer Ackerman

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