Tied to the Whipping Post

From Holden:

The Washington Post’s editorial page published a series of editorials critical of the Bush Assministration’s torture policy.

Here is the latest.

As The Post’s Dana Priest reported yesterday, the CIA maintains its own network of secret prisons, into which 100 or more terrorist suspects have “disappeared” as if they were victims of a Third World dictatorship. Some of the 30 most important prisoners are being held in secret facilities in Eastern European countries — which should shame democratic governments that only recently dismantled Soviet-era secret police apparatuses. Held in dark underground cells, the prisoners have no legal rights, no visitors from outside the CIA and no checks on their treatment, even by the International Red Cross. President Bush has authorized interrogators to subject these men to “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment that is illegal in the United States and that is banned by a treaty ratified by the Senate. The governments that allow the CIA prisons on their territory violate this international law, if not their own laws.

This shameful situation is the direct result of Mr. Bush’s decision in February 2002 to set aside the Geneva Conventions as well as standing U.S. regulations for the handling of detainees. Under the Geneva Conventions, al Qaeda militants could have been denied prisoner-of-war status and held indefinitely; they could have been interrogated and tried, either in U.S. courts or under the military system of justice. At the same time they would have been protected by Geneva from torture and other cruel treatment. Had Mr. Bush followed that course, the abuse scandals at Guantanamo Bay and in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the severe damage they have caused to the United States, could have been averted. Key authors of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, could have been put on trial, with their crimes exposed to the world.

Instead, not a single al Qaeda leader has been prosecuted in the past four years. The Pentagon’s system of hearings on the status of Guantanamo detainees, introduced only after a unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court, has no way of resolving the long-term status of most detainees. The CIA has no long-term plan for its secret prisoners, whom one agency official described as “a horrible burden.”