The news surrounding Bin Laden’s death has included a renewed effort to justify torture.
The subtle, anonymous quotes are all over the news.
As a representative, and not extreme, example: The Washington Post wrote an article entitled Obama’s Moment is Bush’s as Well (in the print version, it has been renamed online), which quoted an anonymous Bush administration source.
Without information from detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison and elsewhere, U.S. officials would never have tracked the courier who led them to bin Laden’s compound.
There is not a shred of evidence to support the claim that this information came out of the brutal interrogation regime at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, but there is overwhelming evidence that there was a massive state-sanctioned torture program, at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. The anonymous quote was designed to justify that torture. What was the justification for anonymity?
The evidence of a torture regime is undeniable, and culpability rises to the highest levels: The Yoo/Bybee torture memos, from top White House lawyers, implemented by people like William Haynes and Geoffrey Miller. Psychiatrists (such as Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell) hiring themselves out to reverse-engineer classes designed to teach torture survival. The FBI refusing to participate in CIA interrogations. The “black sites” around the globe, secretly constructed and operated, long denied. The disappearances and renditions. The destroyed videotapes.
George W. Bush has confessed to ordering water boarding, and has expressed no remorse.
The existence of a systemic torture regime is no longer in debate.
We are legally (under Article 12 of the Conventions Against Torture) and morally obligated to investigate the torture at Guantanamo and elsewhere. Systems of torture thrive in cultures of impunity, but cannot survive in a culture of accountability.
We live in a culture of impunity and it is becoming more so with every torture justifying anonymous quote.